August 02, 2012

Comic Movie Musings

Remember back when you were a kid, and you read comic books?  And all the other kids thought you were a nerd, because you read those comic books?  Yeah, me too.  What makes me laugh about that whole thing now is that our current state of affairs in the media amounts to what is essentially a celebration of geek culture.  People are walking about sporting Green Lantern t-shirts, Batman logos on their ball caps, and lining up in droves to see movies based on characters they used to make fun of other people for liking.

My my how the world has changed.

When I was a kid I didn't get picked on much, even though I was a pretty big nerd.  I was of a size that was intimidating enough that I generally got left alone, or made those who attempted the picking on generally regret having done so.  Sadly I know that wasn't the case for others.  But hey, growing up is painful and all that.  And people generally suck, even when they're grownups so, whether you were a nerd then, or are a chic geek now...I say simply like what you like and tell anyone who gives you a hard time about it to go fuck themselves.

Whoa, I'm not sure where that came from...I had intended to write about comic book movies.  Actually I guess my above diatribe is still applicable, because everyone is watching comic movies now.  They're some of, if not THE biggest cash generation engines for the Hollywood movie machine.

So what have we had lately?  Superman Returns, Nolan's Batman trilogy, Green Lantern, Thor, way too many Spider-man movies, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man.  Oh and the Watchmen, 300 and probably a few others I've missed.  And that's all within the last 6 or 7 years.  Roll back 10, 15 or even 20 years and take a look at comic-inspired movies.  There aren't a lot of them, and most of those were pretty damned awful.

I'm not saying everything I just listed has been gold either.  Superman was generally abysmal.  I liked Brandon Routh in the role, but the plot of the movie was shit, and almost everyone else in the movie had zero chemistry.  Why people thought we needed to see Lex Luthor on screen again, or a Kryptonian love child, or Superman as a dead-beat dad / stalker is anyone's guess.

Green Lantern, again...not good.  It had some decent moments, but I think Ryan Reynolds (as good an actor as he is) was seriously miscast in the title role.  I'm a big Green Lantern fan, and even I didn't like the movie.

Most of the recent Marvel stuff has been good, and I enjoyed what they did leading everything into a big Avengers movie.  I know my next statement will probably get large objects (or insults) hurled my way, but I didn't enjoy Avengers.  I don't buy Chris Evans as Captain America, nor do I like Sam Jackson in anything, and while the movie was decent, I didn't care about anything that happened in it.  I'd much rather watch another Thor or Iron Man sequel than see the Avengers on screen again together.  But I'm in a very small majority.

Spiderman...oh boy.  The first one of the last trilogy was actually pretty decent, even if I disliked Kirsten Dunst in every scene she was in.  The Green Goblin's outfit looked like he stole it from the set of a Japanese kids show like Kamen Rider or something, but hey...he was crazy, so why wouldn't he wear green devil-samurai tech-armor?  Then the sequels followed and my brain leaped out the window.  Doc Ock is a shit villain, and the third movie should never be spoken of Marvel rebooted the whole damn thing.

And you know what?  It was good.  It happened way too soon, and didn't really need to happen at all, but it was good.  Emma Stone and that Garfield kid actually had good chemistry and the movie over all was far far better than it had any right to be.  Do I want to see another one with them in it?  No.  But I'm sure there will be another one.  There's too much money to be made otherwise.

Finally that brings me to Batman.  The biggest comic book character to break into movies ever.  And the trilogy put forth by Christopher Nolan and his team has been pretty damn good.  Was it perfect all round?  Not at all.  In fact, I'd say that Christian Bale's rendition of Batman has probably been the weakest part of each movie in that series.  The storytelling and the universe though, they could support a less-than-stellar Batman and make things interesting enough for us to stick around to the end.

According to Nolan, his involvement with the Batman franchise is done.  As it should be.  The story reached a satisfying conclusion and shouldn't be returned to.  There are plot points that could be picked up and run with obviously.  I'd easily pay money to watch a movie about Nightwing starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  However I'd be extremely shocked if it were any good without Nolan's input, and even more shocked if DC / Warner had the intelligence to put it together in the first place.  They certainly don't seem to have the same kind of brain power behind their movie machine that Marvel / Disney does.

I'm looking at the upcoming Superman movie with interest.  There's a lot of story-telling potential to be found with a character like Superman, and I hope they're able to realize some of it.  Were it up to me I'd go with the Death of Superman plotline involving Doomsday, but then killing your title character might be a little too dark...  Building up towards Darkseid appearing in a sequel or maybe JLA film might also be an interesting idea.  We'll have to wait and see though.

So do I have a point?  Not really no.  I just think it's interesting that comic characters, comic-inspired movies, and all their associated stuff are now chic and generate huge cash.  Who would have thought that being a geek would some day equate to any kind coolness?!


Brummie said...

I enjoyed probably most the films you've mentioned. The new Superman didn't float my boat and I couldn't get past the start. I quite like the Spiderman's done previously I agree the third film is a bit meh! Not seen the new one yet but I'm sure I will at some point.

Regarding the newer batman movies. I agree Bale is not perhaps the best Batman but I really like the grim, dark take the movies presented.

The first few Batmans (Michael Keaton) where quite good but when they got to third movie for me they got a bit silly and I found painful to watch.

Obsidian3D said...

I remember when I saw the first ads for Batman in '89 and thought "Michael Keaton as Batman...ridiculous!" However, he was actually very convincing and those first two were great movies. I was a fan before that...stuff like Beetlejuice and Pacific Heights were excellent.