There’s a common complaint about movies in Hollywood these days, specifically of the summer blockbuster variety.
“There is nothing out there original anymore!”
This complaint applies to TV shows being turned into movies like Dukes of Hazzard, Miami Vice, and A-Team. It applies to the constant remakes like Clash of the Titans or reboots of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If a new movie directed toward young adult females comes out it’s usually based on a young adult novel like The Hunger Games or The Fault In Our Stars. There doesn’t seem to be much in terms of new ideas or new concepts coming around.
Of course, this never really gets said about comic book movies*.
We’re at the second iteration of Spider-Man films. We’re at the second reboot of Superman. We’re at the third reboot of Batman. X-Men movies have been going on since 2000 and are being directed by the same person again. We’re about to see the second reboot of Fantastic Four. In due time we’re getting another Avengers movie and based on the official poster it looks more like the Avengers invaded the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie from 1995, complete with Ultron as an updated Lord Zedd.
But nobody is complaining about this being a re-hash or unoriginal Hollywood or stuff we’ve seen before or a lacking of unoriginality. For some reason, its fine to scour the pages of comic books for your next film but something based on a young adult novel from a few years ago is repulsive. Really, both should be acceptable.
It makes me wonder why comic book movies get some sort of protection from scrutiny from a large audience, especially on the Internet. I found the Thor films to be just as stupid as the Transformers films but Michael Bay I guess is a bigger lightning rod for controversy. But why is he? Why can Michael Bay get ripped to shreds for awful movies based on history (Pearl Harbor) and asteroids (Armageddon) but if Marvel Films releases a mediocre action movie with rainbow bridges, it gets a pass?
But this isn’t the only reason I’m done with comic book movies, as the title suggests. I’m absolutely exhausted. Every year there are new movies that everyone is excited for and I’m left wondering why. I think Guardians of the Galaxy was the first to make me wonder. I love Chris Pratt as an actor and seeing the raccoon was pretty exciting. Every trailer just reminds me of another superhero movie I watched in Green Lantern. It feels like Green Lantern with a lot more colour and a lot slicker presentation. With the Marvel movies deciding to go space fantasy, what is supposed to pull me into this? Why am I supposed to care about an Infinity Glove? I don’t and it hasn’t yet been explained why I should. I can understand the people who read the comics who care. But the others? The casual film goer? What’s really in it for them aside from slick action and CGI?
Not much. And that’s okay. But I find it very difficult for me to say criticize a silly Roland Emmerich film and then make excuses for the latest Marvel film just because it’s based on a comic book. I enjoyed Iron Man 3 because it was pretty much Shane Black being Shane Black. But a big part of my enjoyment was because Shane Black really doesn’t get the money to make Shane Black movies anymore and if you strip away everything comic book related from the movie, I still would have enjoyed it. I probably would have enjoyed it even more. Robert Downey Jr. as some sarcastic millionaire teaming up with U.S. Agent Don Cheadle to take down a mad scientist. See, remove Iron Man and you still get a buddy cop Shane Black flick. That’s what I’m really there for. But for others? They were there for Iron Man and got angry when the story turned The Mandarin into a joke. I thought it was great and I still haven’t heard a reason for it not being good aside from, “It didn’t stay honest to the source material!”
I know there are a lot of people who enjoy these movies for what they are, and those folks? I am not talking about. I get it when a person likes Batman. But what I don’t get is anyone defending Batman. Batman for me is a John Wayne character, an incredibly flawed and ultimately broken protagonist which is appreciated because his demeanours and attitude is just enough to take him over the source material. He’s junk food, and I love junk food. But when someone tries to argue Batman on an intellectual level or compare The Dark Knight to a film like No Country for Old Men or L.A. Confidential, it’s an unfair comparison. Because it should be. The Dark Knight was at one point argued by many as the best film of its year, but that’s only true in the confines of the comic medium. It’s like arguing Tomb Raider as the best videogame movie ever made, therefore it should be treated like a great movie. It isn’t. It’s good enough for its genre.
This is probably reading more like a bunch of ranting from someone who is just tired of the comic book movie love of others, and it is. It’s a genre I once enjoyed and now feel like I’m supposed to like it just because. And I can’t stand that. It is not a rite of passage of liking geek culture to enjoy all comic book films. But that’s where we are. Every film website has to cover comic book movies because they sell, and the people buying them have little reason other than it’s a comic book movie.
In the end I have to extend my deepest compliments to Hollywood. They finally found a medium to exploit that people won’t criticize them for. Dramatic actors can go do some silly comic book movies without taking a hit on their career reputation. When Liam Neeson does Taken and A-Team, people discuss how he’s throwing his career away. But Chris Evans doing Fantastic Four and Captain America? It’s great! There’s no risk and full reward, especially in pay. I’m now hearing Joaquin Phoenix plans to be Dr. Strange and why not? After appearing in The Master and Her, it’s time for him to appear in something that guarantees $500M at the box office and lets him live in luxury without doing commercials in Japan. Or do the commercials anyway because Suntory Time! Hollywood figured out just how they can repeat the same thing over and over again and the 18-49 Male Demographic will have absolutely zero complaint in them doing so. Kudos, Hollywood. Kudos.
As for me? I’m done. No longer will I get excited for these movies. I need to take a break and figure out why I enjoyed them in the first place. In the meantime I’ll enjoy Snowpiercer.
Disclaimer: I liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier quite a bit but much like Iron Man 3, I would have liked it more if you stripped out the comic book elements and left it as a U.S. government thriller. Which was the entire point of the film, to be like a 70s political thriller wrapped up in comic book action and CGI.
*Comic book movie: Film based on a North American comic book. Before you bark at me for mentioning Snowpiercer, which is based on a French graphic novel, nobody is ever going to confuse Snowpiercer with Avengers.