A job for Superman?

This May Marvel plans on releasing ‘Wolverine Origins’. While other comic book adaptations by Marvel(and DC) have hit meteoric homeruns others have fallen flat. The more I watch the trailers the more I am worrying that Marvel might be more concerned with their toy lines and marketing other characters towards future films. Where do they go wrong? What can they do to right the Xandarian starship?
(I had written this particular article after the dumpster fire that was Spiderman 3 and hours removed from seeing Iron Man.)
For every X-Men 2 that is released we are also subjected to two, not edited enough, hours of Ben Affleck acting blind in Daredevil. So why is it that some comic books flow seamlessly into their transition onto our movie screens and two disc deluxe DVD packages?
Before we begin, we need to get into the mind of the comic book reader. What do they think? How do they think? What do they look for from their comic book movies? First and foremost, comic book fanboys are dorks. I do not speak about the casual reader either. I mean the really geeky fans. The kind of fans that get angry at the movie when they veer from an original story line for no good reason. The kind of fan that has named a pet of theirs after their favorite character. The sort of fan that wears a Green Lantern power ring on a chain around their neck(but you can still see the tan lines where they had it on their finger). The sort of fan that could write a doctoral thesis about the centuries old battle between the Skrulls and Kree alien cultures found in the Marvel 616 continuity. The one that wonders what it would be like to be Scott Summers so they could have a roll around the mutant hay with Jean Grey. True believers. Hollywood needs to target them.
When dealing with fanatic, mostly male, observers who have based most of their lives, money, time, and any hope of a sex-life, to reading books about dudes in tights, Hollywood needs to tread carefully. A rabid fan base who knows Batman’s first appearance date in Detective Comics and what issue the Killer Moth first appeared has certain things they need in a comic film.
Stick to the story. Or stick to the story as faithfully as you can. In attempting to remake movies that ring true to the 21st Century, tweaks here and there are sometimes needed. In the original story, Tony Stark was in Vietnam as a weapons manufacturer(it was the late 60’s). It certainly would have been out of touch to have him there again. Changes in original stories are okay when they fit the framework of the times. When you pull a “Sandman was there when Uncle Ben died” moment in Spiderman 3, you begin to anger the dorks.
Do not create villains or heroes specifically for the movie. Nuclear Man? Bruno Troll in Swamp Thing? Harry Osborn in that goofy wet suit and flying skateboard in Spiderman 3? How about Nick Nolte as the Absorbing Man in the Incredible Hulk? I consider that to be an assault against the story but also the character. Since when in the comics is Crusher Creel Bruce Banner’s dad? Tag along s also count in this category. Usually the tag along is there for comic relief and so a studio makes it more palatable for kids. You’ll find this role typically brain numbing and pointless to the story. For a while it was thought maybe Rob Schneider was going to be the tag along guy but recently Shia Labeouf is the go to guy of tag along guys(see Constantine, I Robot, Indiana Jones 4, and Charlie Angels Full Throttle).
Big name Hollywood actors are not a must in casting and quite possibly are a detriment to the entire movie. Stallone as Judge Dredd just gave us one more thing to laugh about the movie for. Alec Baldwin as the Shadow complete with a pros ethic nose? Who knows what evil that movie cast upon our eyes? The Shadow knows! George Clooney with bat-nipples and a credit card? I almost canceled by Batman fan club membership when that flaming pile of bat-garbage was shown in theaters. You do not need big names. The characters are big enough, the atomic mass of the Hollywood star’s ego is too massive. The actor should be supporting the character not the character supporting the star. Tobey Maguire was a star but not on any sort of level as Clooney or Baldwin. Hugh Jackman for Wolverine? Christopher Reeve(at the time was not a big star) as the man of Steel?
Stop putting 18 different main characters in the movie. We get so consumed trying to find out what characters are in the damn movie and why, we forget to watch the movie. This is the studio’s fault. By the third installment they are making the movie so they can sell toys, toothbrushes, lunch boxes, and anything else with a paintable surface to dopey kids who think that Venom is “cool” because he’s in a black costume. We don’t need the hero to face 16 different villains. In fact if you saved some of them maybe you would have ideas for future sequels and wouldn’t be forced to create villains?
Other than that, the story should take care of itself. Costume and set design have already been thought of, character’s stories are written, the basic look of each character is there, and villains are in place to blow some stuff up. Do not over think or over do the stories.
Well which movies worked and which movies were Steel with Shaquille O’Neal?
Some of the ones I would classify in the Hall of Justice….
1. Spiderman 1 & 2. Sam Raimi stuck to original stories, the Spidey costume was great, Tobey Maguire was perfect as Spidey, the effects were outstanding, even Kirstin Dunst was only minorly annoying. Barring the Goblin outfit and Doc Ock’s trench coat and beer belly look, both were phenomenal.
2. Sin City. What Judge Dredd should have been. Marv-elous.
3. X-Men 1 & 2. Perfect origin stories leading right into Stan Lee’s mutant’s greatest story, the Phoenix saga. Nice mix of characters. Good amount of Wolverine and nice use of Weapon X.
4. Batman Begins. A great retelling of a franchise that was once smoldering in Joel Shumacker crap. Christian Bale actually physically looks like he could be a guy gliding around Gotham City in a batsuit unlike Mr Keaton, Kilmer or Clooney.
5. Iron Man. To date…the best comic adaptation.(authors note: Keep in mind I had yet to see the Dark Knight at this point, which now occupies the greatest of all comic adapted movies.)
6. Superman I. The first time we thought a man could fly.
Now I could not possibly list all of the best but those are some that really stick out in my mind. Then again there are some that fester in my mind like a flesh eating virus.
1. Judge Dredd. Bad from the opening credits. Best part? When the lights came back on in the theater.
2. the Shadow. Should be remade. Could be remade. Instead we still have the burning image of Alec Baldwin in a pros ethic nose.
3. The Phantom. Purple? Tights? Billy Zane? The Ghost Who Sucks.
4. Supergirl. Faye Dunaway was only at her best when she was riddled with bullets in Bonnie and Clyde.
5. Spiderman 3 and X-Men 3. Enough with the characters. Believe it or not, comic book fans do not need an explosion every 6 seconds in a movie. We read these things because the story, at times, compels us. Spidey 3 and X-Men 3 fell victim to their own success and the 10 year old demographic for consumers.
6. Hulk. How can one ruin the Green Goliath? Gamma bomb, turns into Hulk, Hulk smash, Hulk love Betty, Gen Ross bad, Hulk no like bad men, Banner disappears to wander the Earth. The End.
7. Fantastic Four…both of them. I don’t know if Roger Corman’s was worse? Trying to choose would be like having to pick how you have to die.
Some comic book movies should not even be made. They transcend anything that could be put on film. Books like the League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Swamp Thing. Constantine. Y-the Last Man. Some we are still scratching our heads as to how they were made in the first place. Brenda Starr? Huh? Road to Perdition? Keep these stories tucked away in the vaults of comic book stores. There is no reason to make these into films! Stop it.
So long as the courageous and noble are willing to don capes and cowls and protect mankind from the evils that lurk around us, Hollywood will be there with a digital camera to record a movie and slap it up on the big screen. Rest assured the bigger the potential for merchandising, that movie will be up on the big screen faster than a speeding bullet. So comic book geeks will have to wade, with Hellboy hip waders, through the muck that engulfs much of this beloved genre. A job that doesn’t look like even Superman would want.


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