Thursday, June 26, 2008

I can't believe I'm saying this, but...

I have come to the realization that I just don't like most superhero movies.

No matter how good they are (Superman I and II) or how pathetic (Daredevil, Catwoman) they can never measure up to what's inside my head.

Don't get me wrong - I'm certainly not saying that my ideas are any better than anyone else's. They're not.

But when I read comics, those characters exist in their own little comic book worlds and interact with comic book physics (Reality is, Batman can NOT kick someone in an arc clear across a room, Spider-Man should have some place to attach his web to before swinging).

In old Marvel comics, people would talk for several paragraphs while they were in the middle of a fight. Heck, if a panel captures a moment in time, they should be limited to a few words, at most!

But not only do I accept that, I enjoy it. I'm not conscious of it, but as I read from panel to panel I just take it all in and fill in the spots in between panels. Not to some ludicrous extreme (Batman eats breakfast, Batman shaves, Batman reads the paper, Batman uses the john...) but enough so that I get the feeling that the writer and/or artist is trying to convey.

Comic book heroes in movies... well, they kind of miss the point.

Costumed heroes work best in their own worlds. No matter if you build the world's best supersuit (Iron Man, Batman) or sort of sexiest costume (Elektra) or just do it like the comics (Superman, Spider-Man) you either have to make the city the darkest city ever (don't they know about lights or moonlight even?!) or change the characters so much (Wanted) that most people don't realize they're comic book characters.

Often they change characters' costumes to look more "realistic". In Batman that's a necessity, but the characters were still identifable (though Catwoman didn't need all the stitches - any idiot can get a spandex suit with no stitches, why can't Catwoman?)

In Mortal Kombat, they threw a lot of the outfits out the window. Why not let us see those goofs in their spandex? Sure, no one goes around wearing leotards, but at least then we'd know we're in a comic book movie!

Ever notice how most of the really "good" comic book movies are origin stories? Why can't anyone come up with a story that isn't an origin? (OK, so there's The Dark Knight).

Virtually every comic book movie has its goofball points - some more than others. Spider-Man - not only can't I believe a guy can move like that (fake!), the swinging bit proved the movie makers needed more physics lessons. Superman Returns - and does what, fights normal guy Lex Luthor again?! Hulk - big cartoonie CGI guy with a too-small head.

And I can like these movies for what they are, I suppose. I liked Iron Man, Batman, Superman, Superman II, Batman Begins, well enough. Even Flash Gordon, I suppose.

But the vast majority are el stinko. Supergirl. Masters of the Universe. Daredevil. Elektra. Catwoman. Street Fighter. The Phantom. Buck Rogers. ANY of which you could make a great movie out of, if only you weren't so afraid of offending the public or offputting a segment of the moviegoers or some such crap.

If you are going to make a comic book movie, for gosh sakes why not make it like the comics?

The Rocketeer. Geez, I love the Rocketeer. Not that there was all that much story to adapt but they did a great job, made a fun movie and that was semi-realistic to boot.

Batman, with Michael Keaton. Sure, there are a few goofball things (like the Joker's gun) but that was pretty much a good comic-book movie.

Of course, I do realize that my dislike of most of these movies could come from the point that I'm just getting old.

Don't buy it.

It isn't particularly hard in coming up with a comic book story. It is a little harder when you actually have to think it through and write the ending first (otherwise, how do you know when you're on track? basic!). So I do have sympathy for the movie writers who have to put up with constant changes and all that.

It's not their fault that, even with CGI, their movies will often fall short to what my imagination says they could have been.

But come on.

I certainly don't have a unique grasp on imagination. You all do - you're part of a comic book roleplaying game group, sometimes more than one at once! Your various stories and tales betray that you too have an immense imagination!

And I have no doubt you could write a better comic book movie - because it would BE a comic book movie.

I guess I am becoming... well, not cynical, but for ten dollars I want something resembling the comic books the characters were taken from (like Iron Man having SHIELD agents with unidirectional explosives ((I remember Jasper Sitwell using that on Iron Man in the comics!)) and that big comic-booky energy source! Cool!).

And of course, some movies I will see just because they feature Batman, or the Spirit, regardless of how good they are.

I don't want there to be an Avengers or a JLA movie... because the chances of them messing it up become just too high.


Maybe I am just getting too old to expect much.

But while they can improve the costumes, the machines, the CGI, the fights... is it too much to ask that they improve the story too?

1 comment:

Martin said...

KC, not that isn't too much to ask. I do, however, tend to view comic book movies as their own entities - and accept the hoops Hollywood has to often jump through to make the film "acceptable" to the broader market. After all, if only comic book readers went and saw comic book movies, well...they'd all go into debt fast.

The story should be the key foundation though. Very few films, as you mentioned, got it right down to the final line.