I’m sick of superhero movies. There, it’s out there in the ether now.
Films based on comic book characters are now so in-vogue that you’re guaranteed a handful every year, regardless of whether the character in question is well known or not.
In the past 12 months alone we’ve had Captain America, Thor, Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class, Avengers Assemble. We’ve still to see The Amazing Spider-man, The Dark Knight Rises (more about that later) while Iron-Man 3, Thor 2, Capt America 2 and another new Hulk movie are in the pipeline. There’s even talk of Ant-Man – pencilled in for 2014 and reportedly, if IMdB is to believed, helmed by Edgar Wright.
I’m well aware there’s always going to be a market for these films given the hoards of squealing comic fans who are experiencing their own living wet-dream by seeing their favourite characters being immortalised on the big screen.
This is in no way a jibe at those who flock to the cinemas to gobble up the latest offerings from Marvel and DC. Shit, even I find myself drawn, on occasion, to certain releases.
Obviously we’ve had films based on comic book heroes for many years, but it’s only the last decade that has seen a sharp rise in paper-to-cinema adaptations, so-much-so it can be hard to keep up with what’s due for release and what’s still in production.
For me it’s becoming tedious and somewhat repetitive. It’s also a glaring indictment of the current climate in Hollywood. No studio is willing to risk cash money on original (or what they might call ‘risky’) ideas unless it’s being made by someone like Chris Nolan or, say, Guillermo del Toro.
Add to that the fact many directors now see comic book films as an easy way to get greenlit without an original idea and I can sort of understand why Hollywood is so keen to make them. With many spandex-clad heroes having a solid fanbase, the thought of a movie brings up dollar signs.
Unfortunately, this predilection for avoiding originality could be stifling creative talent from making something truly great. Why spend your days coming up with a new idea when you could just head to your nearest comic book store and pick a story to be given the movie treatment?
I’m not having a go at all the films that have been created using already-existing source material, I’m having a go at the practice.
I’ve enjoyed some of the releases – Raimi’s Spider-man 1 & 2, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Iron-Man and X-Men: First Class were all brilliant. Almost everything else was either enjoyable, average or banal. I even found myself among the minority of people who weren’t wowed by Avengers Assemble. While it was fun, it didn’t blow me away. In fact, the final act was just a rehash of Transformers: Dark of the Moon with Marvel characters replacing the Autobots.
Of course, it has since made a shitload of money – but big Box Office doesn’t always equate to a great product. Christ, Titanic is a billion dollar movie and it’s fist-bitingly awful. But as I said, with a solid fanbase, these films will make money. Even Green Lantern, which was panned (and I sorta enjoyed), made over $200m. Although it did cost the same to be made, so that’s a poor example.
Of all the comic book films out this year, the only one I’m truly excited about is The Dark Knight Rises. While it’s a superhero franchise at heart, Nolan has elevated it above the campy fun and frolics of Marvel’s output to give us something that is somewhat akin to a crime-thriller.
Yes, Bruce Wayne may be a billionaire playboy who dresses up in a tight leather costume, but these Batman films have an edge and seriousness to them that is overlooked by most other films from the comic genre. While many will proclaim the grittiness and dark side of these movies puts them off, it’s a welcome relief to the quips and inane chattter passed off as dialogue in other films.
While TDKR isn’t jumping on the 3D bandwagon, thank fuck, I am quietly confident it will blow Avengers Assemble out the water in regards to both content and Box Office takings.
The Dark Knight Rises may well be where Nolan bows out of directing superhero films but, unsurprisingly, there’s already a remake/reboot/sequel/prequel (delete as appropriate) mooted for 2015 with Nolan in a producing role.
It seems that Hollywood has decided this particular cash-cow is one worth milking ad nauseum, so those of us tired of them will just have to grin and bear it…