This week on Comics & Cinema, the question is: What makes for a good comic book movie? Sometimes the answer is very simple. Warning: If you are an ‘Iconic’ Superman fan, don’t read this article. You’ve been warned!
This Article: Written for ProjectFanboy by InvestComics 10-19-09
What makes a good comic book movie (Part 1 of 2)? This seems to be the biggest question in Hollywood, but is always a subject for debate amongst fanboys. Let’s go down a small list of what it really takes to pull off this feat. Hollywood does have a pulse on the comic industry in regards to knowing that comic book movies make MONEY. If the movie is done ‘right’ though then Hollywood stands to make some serious ridiculous cash as opposed to just making some scratch. Don’t believe this point? Well look at the opinions of most (….most, relax if you’re not one of ‘them’) of the fanboys as far as the Spidey movies go. It went from a resounding ‘hell yea’ to a ‘pfft, whatever’ in the last film. The first Spider-Man movie is essential what makes a good film, the writing. If you do not have a well written script, fanboys will take notice and rip it apart. It’s a 100% fact. Like stated before, the very first Spider-Man movie was a big success to many comic fans. It gave the innocents and lure that is needed. The latest movie with Venom, Sandman and new goblin was just too ‘Hollywood’. We can all hope that the next Spider movie gets back to some basics and steers a little bit away from the effects to give us some good storytelling. It’s not that fans do not like special effects, but to have the effects be the story instead of the other way around is just bad movie etiquette. So with a lot of talk of Spider-Man 4 coming in 2011, it really is important to get back on track as far as storytelling is concerned or the whole lure of the Spider-Man on film will fizzle out.
Venom was announced to be spinning off in his own film as an anti-hero. This will be a very interesting film if it’s kept as a dark one. Venom is a dark mysterious character that needs to be a complex, strange thing that is hard for ‘us’ to understand. They shouldn’t make it to where Venom is easily understood and we get why he is the way he is. Keep it dark and keep it unexplained. The unexplained would prompt debate and interest as to ‘who do you
think Venom is and what does he desire so much?’
Writing is the key to success in any movie genre, that’s understood. But when you’re talking comic book fans, you best get it right and you best not make any of us scratch our heads saying ‘huh?’ Superman unfortunately fell into the whole bad writing area. While the premise was to re-introduce Superman to the world, it was a bad one. Guess what Hollywood (or DC) we ALL know who Superman is! Do not re-introduce us, but instead get to some good story and fighting going on against someone other than the criminal mastermind himself Lex Luthor. Yes again, we ALL get it, Lex is smart, but Superman is smarter. Who cares about Lex anymore?! Why is it that the best Superman movie ever made was from 1980?? That’s 29 years ago! It’s simple actually. Great storytelling and villains! Yes REAL villains, like as in bad guys with powers. The special effects are mediocre at best, but it’s still a great story here. Superman actually fights bad guys from another planet and gets his ass kicked! This is fun, isn’t it? Guess what folks, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) played a role as the criminal mastermind that didn’t have much to do with dealing with Superman himself. General Zod (Terence Stamp) did all of the dealing with Superman and it was brilliant. “Kneel before Zod”; classic stuff here folks. Do we have a moment like this at all in the latest Superman movie? The answer is a resonant NO. There is a very big factor that I have been saying for years the moment I saw the promo picture, the first look if you will at the Superman costume from the latest film. Anyone who knows me and has read any forums or my articles knows how I feel about this. The costume needs to be changed. Keep the ‘S’, it’s Iconic blah blah blah, I get it. Here is the thing. In a marketing class in college they will tell you that any product you ever
sell, the ‘eyes’ are sold first. The eyes tell the brain if it’s worth your time and effort to bother with moving on to the next phase. If you set the ‘eye appeal’, they will come. Therein lays the problem with the newest installment of Superman. The costume looked like it was from the old I Love Lucy episode where Superman comes through Lucy’s window after getting her off the ledge. It looks that old, that vintage. There is nothing wrong with old school, nothing. If old school worked why did they keep Batman’s costume from the first Tim Burton movie? Or even update the costume FOR the Tim Burton movie? The Batman movies are good, (minus George Val and Arnold) because they keep the eye appeal first and foremost. Yes the Clooney and Valmovies were dopey, did you see those costumes?? Who was taking that seriously? No one, they bombed. Fast forward to Christian Bale, put together a very good script with some cool duds and you have peoples’ attention again. Does this work all the time? No it doesn’t. Could Halle Berry look any hotter in that Cat suit? (Michelle maybe?) Wait one better, Jennifer Gardner as Elektra, I mean really, wow! The eyes sold right away, the script said otherwise. That said it was the initial sale of that suit that grabbed the audience’s attention. Getting back to Superman, you have to be
able to get that first jump on a viewer to say to themselves ‘Hey what’s this about? This looks cool.’ Get the viewers attention THEN give them a good script, you have gold. Superman’s costume HAS to be modernized. Wizard magazine a few years back gave a great article on what if DC had an Ultimate line like Marvel has? They showed various artist renditions of ‘updated’ DC heroes and the Superman update was spectacular. It kept the ‘S’ while still maintaining that ‘Yes I am Superman and I’m a bad ass’. Why not try to update the costume? It makes all the sense in the world here. It worked for Batman! Let the debate rage on, I say Superman needs a makeover in the movie industry. Get him to fight some cool villains, NOT Lex (again). Let Hollywood show why Superman is the baddest man on the planet. Daredevil was one of those movies you felt either real bad going in or you felt real well. I for one did not like the choice of Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, but I was sold on the eye candy. It did peek my interest enough to see it. I loved the dark ambiance it was set in. It made me feel like the comic book was alive. I might be the only comic fan to actually be ballsy enough to say this, but I didn’t think Ben Affleck was that bad as Murdock. It was the villain, not Bullseye, but the Kingpin I had a big problem with. I love Michael Clarke Duncan, I just think he was completely miscast here. It ruined the movie for me personally. If a different actor portrayed Kingpin, I’d be a happy Daredevil movie guy right now. Jennifer Gardner I thought played a very sexy Elektra. She held her own enough to get her own movie. Elektra was another one of those movies I wanted to like going in, but quickly found out along with all the other movie goers that ‘acting’ needs to play a huge part in a success of a movie. If you don’t believe the acting, you don’t like the movie. The Elektra movie in my opinion had huge potential to be a good film. It’s unfortunate that the acting skills fell short as well as the script.
So this ends the first of a 2 part in Comics & Cinema, come back next time as we all debate ‘What makes a good Comic book movie?’
See you all soon and remember to turn off your cell phone when reading this article. We need quiet in this theater.