iFanboy vs. iFanboy: Are Comic Book Movies Ruining Summer?

So, the iFanboy staff was chatting over email today about this article in Entertainment Weekly and Jimski and I, well, we kinda ended up disagreeing. What I present to you, dear reader, is a dialogue, nay, a debate, the topic of which we can all agree touches the deepest part of our souls. We’re each gonna state our case, then we’re looking to you to tell us what you think.


I am not sure if you saw this article in Entertainment Weekly, but check it out, then come back to this. Go ahead, open it up in a new tab, I’m not going anywhere.

Got it?

So, how does it feel? You, dear reader, are being baited. I can just see it: Our friend Chris Nashawaty going to the EW editors with, “Hey, check this out — let me write this piece then I can really piss off all these geeks and, wow, won’t we be so edgy and different to be ragging on all these movies that so many guys (and, okay, three girls) are totally waiting for? Just watch how many people comment on this!”

If you didn’t read the article (lazy, tsk), basically Chris is saying that superhero movies are ruining the summer movie season. Now, I think he’s totally wrong on a bunch of fronts. I personally think that Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man are examples of everything that is right about summer movies. You spend a year or so getting fans excited, you do some panels at Comic-Con, you release a few clips on the web, and then, finally, you release a movie that actually delivers. Audiences cheer, they gasp, they lose their hearing for few hours, and they go back and talk about it with their friends.

These are all good things.

However, I will admit, I am worried. I mean, I stayed and was super excited to see Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man, but when he mentioned The Avengers Initiative, all I could think of was that Legends of the Superheroes movie from 1979 (click on the damn link if you never saw this, seriously). I mean, okay, we’ve seen superhero team movies work (X-Men and 2) but, I mean, really — look at this list. Ant-Man? Thor? Even Captain America is too much for me. Does know one remember the Captain America movie when he had a motorcycle that could get really, really quiet? What? Too much, too much.

And then you go beyond comicsG.I. Joe? Okay, like, I like the costumes when I see the pics, but then I think about those people in the costumes actually talking about defeating Cobra and I wince. I read about Jake Gyllenhal in Prince of Persia and I gag. I think about the Bioshock movie and I start chewing on my lip and go to my happy place after the hours of being utterly freaked out playing the damn game.

Look, the geeks have won. We get everything we want. Swords and magic? The Lord of the Rings. Crazy ass sci fi? The Matrix. Female geeks who look hot in Princess Leia outfits? Olivia Munn. We won, people! Let’s just not ruin it. Let’s take a deep breath and jump into the cold shower. What was that not very inspirational line from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country? “Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.” Well, I think the President of the Federation was right, people. Let’s give it a rest. Let the studios make some films that suck that have nothing to do with us. Make more of those Disney hockey movies or a Top Gun remake.

The article in EW infuriates — we know why Ant-Man would be different than The Avengers would be. But remember our failure with Catwoman. With Elektra. With Daredevil. I like these movies — I like them a lot. But I think if we see too many come out, they won’t be superhero movies, they’ll just be lame movies that only comic book nerds would like. And, I, for one, am not going back there! You can’t make me!

Your turn, Jim. Go ahead, defend The Hulk. This is gonna be rich.

Your pal,
Mike

 


 

Oh, sir, The Hulk movie is an essay unto itself. (“The Hulk looks fake!” Yeah, the Hulk is fake; there aren’t Hulks. Spend as much time on the PC as you like, CGIing around; I’m not going to believe in Gollums.) Suffice it to say that studios don’t make sequels because they hate having all that money around.

Now, what do we do with this Chris Nashawaty? I have to admit that it took me a few days to read this piece; I kept losing my place from rolling my eyes every sentence and a half. Is there a more hacky, fish-in-a-barrel way to fill column inches than just being the Contrarian? That’s on page one of the playbook: look at the thing that everybody’s talking about and say the opposite thing. Lazy. (By the way, watch for my upcoming article, “One More Day Was Awesome,” in the next couple of weeks.)

And make no mistake, superhero movies are all the rage this summer. Who ever thought you’d open up Entertainment Weekly and see Hellboy, Batman, the Hulk, and Iron Man — Iron Man!! — staring back at you from the blockbuster movie preview issue? Friends of your mom know who Hellboy is. Take a minute to let that sink in. That’s where we are now.

But Chris Nashawaty doesn’t like all us happy people, by gum, and he’s nailed his revolutionary theses to the door. Hollywood only making one kind of movie is bad? Hang on, let me get a pen and take this down. Your job demanded you had to watch Catwoman and Ghost Rider, and now you dislike superhero movies? Call the bomb squad, sir, because you are blowing my mind. You thought Spider-Man was boring, but wish they would start making movies like Armageddon and Independence Day again? Yeah… I’m done listening to you.

(Have you re-watched Independence Day lately? On opening night, we all roared like villagers outside Castle Frankenstein, but I saw it on cable a year later and thought, “Oh my God, were they pumping some kind of gas into that theater? It’s taking the aliens three days to wipe out humanity; we can do it ourselves in an hour and a half.”)

This too-many-capes talk happens every other blockbuster season. A good comic book movie comes out, and like the love-hungry nerds we are we all start writing the “Have [We] Comics Finally Gained Mainstream Acceptance?” article. Then six months later Elektra comes out and we write the “Is the Comic Fad [Our Vicarious Popularity] Ending?” article. Then we die and become the grass, and the antelopes eat the grass, and the goddamn Circle of Life continues some more.

Listen: yes, half the superhero movies suck. Half of all movies suck. I think you’ll agree I’m being generous when I say this. But how much credibility can you give to someone who dismisses an entire genre?

“I hate period pieces.”

“Wait, all of them?”

“Absolutely.

There Will Be Blood? Shanghai Noon? Same movie, as far as I’m concerned.”

I think it was Roger Ebert who said, “It’s not what a movie is about, but how it is about it.” There’s room for plenty of good movies that happen to be about green giants and batmen; no sense throwing the baby mutant out with the bathwater.

Oh, and mark my words: Ant-Man is going to be the best movie of the lot of ’em.

Relatively Sincerely,

Jimski

Comments

  1. Yeah I hated that article in EW.  He basically started hating superhero movies when Spider-Man came out which was such a great movie.  I can feel his too-cool-for-school attitude and it bothers me because it’s done so blatantly for the hell of it.

  2. I thought the first Spider-Man movie was really very average.

    I do worry that the studios are going to flood the market with too many superhero movies and they’re eventually going to kill the very thing making them so much money.  It’s Hollywood, it’s what they do.

  3. Good piece, gents. I too worry about too many superhero movies ruining things for the good superhero movies, but then again, the fact that spiderman 3 made crazy money was some kind of freak occurence and we might as well take advantage and get as many superhero movies greenlit before the world comes to it’s senses and decides that the thing that really puts asses in chairs is Agatha Christie novels and remakes of German silent film. Get while the getting is good. Hollywood has gone crazy, and more often than we could reasonably expect it has given us decent superhero movies. It can’t last forever and we might be burning through the public’s patience, but if this was happening in a reasonable manner there would be no way they would have given the go-ahead to a Captain America movie, let alone an Ant-Man movie. So be thankful, I say.

  4. PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    The writer for EW doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He calls the Punisher, Daredevil, and Ghostrider "c-list avengers," but none of those super heroes are members of the Avengers. And, furthermore, those three characters starred in movies that opened in the spring, not the summer.

  5. I’m so with Jimski here. All of the bad superhero movies were bad because bad people were making them. Although I’m still not sure what happened with Spider-Man 3, seriously, that came out of left field.

    I can’t help but always be excited for comic book movies, and I too think Ant-Man could be great, as long as its done right. 

    And really, the guy even says he dosn’t read comics very much, but then he feels he has to the right to make fun of superheroes just because he knows their powers and abilities, yet he knows nothing of their personality or story.

    I really can’t wait to see a Captian America movie set in World War II, cuz that would rock. 

  6. Some advice for the EW dude — if you don’t like superhero movies, don’t watch em’.

    Or … write an article to make yourself look really ignorant & then contradict everything you just said by saying you’re looking forward to Watchmen. I guess he took option two.

    Jimski hit the nail on the head — way more than half of all movies made are shite, and not worth watching, this includes movies about our beloved superheroes. So if you wanna hate all superhero movies because some of them are crap? Cool — it’s your loss. 

  7. Love all them Links. Points to Jimski for working Mutually Assured destruction into the fold. As for the debate, Ihope that creator owned proprties, Sin City, 300, 30 Days of Night, V, etc of the non superhero track continue to be developed to stem the "let’s beat this genre to death" mentality of Hollywoood.. This is one of the reasons I’m excited for Sxott Piligrim.

  8. Comics have become a sort of R&D for Hollywood over the past couple of years and now it is showing. Friends/family/co-workers ask me about superheroes and think that is all comics have to offer the public.  I explain that a lot of movies have a comic influence.  Remember, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Curse of the Black Pearl was a rip off of the pirate story in Watchmen.  The movies listed by DaveCarr are movies that people love, but do not really know they are based on comics.  

    That being said, Conor did have a good point:

    "I do worry that the studios are going to flood the market with too many superhero movies and they’re eventually going to kill the very thing making them so much money.  It’s Hollywood, it’s what they do." 

    But we are still going to get quality comic movies, maybe just not superheroes.

  9. Hollywood has found the "James Bond" of the new millennium, and will use it to the fullest.  What I mean by this, is that James Bond was a character with some pretty strong source material.  They were able to make numerous stories based upon them and while certain actors would become synonymous with playing that role, people just accepted a new Bond being brought in every couple of movies.  They have even gone back to the beginning with James Bond and will tell all of the stories over again.

    Comic Books are James Bond time 1,000.  There are a close to triple digits number of characters you could put in the "Bond" spot, and each one of them has a set of source material that would make Ian Flemming blush.  Not  to mention the fact that technology has cought up with the our imaginations, so that now what is drawn can adequitly be conveyed in film.  And for example, when Tobey Maguire no longer "fits" the role of Peter Parker/Spider-man, they will simply move on.  Yes, there were actors who the public did not like as James Bond, but it never killed the franchise… even bad movies didn’t kill the franchise.  The same can be said for comic book movies.  Superman Returns fell flat, but whenever the next one gets ready for release and trailers hit TV, people will be lining up again.

    And this is why Hollywood will keep hitting up comic books for ideas, because they can keep hitting the well without needing to repeat themselves.  While story pacing wasn’t great for the X-men and Spider-man franchises, looking at something like Batman is a perfect example.  They started over, so it doesn’t make any difference, but they never introduced a second Robin, Dick Grayson never became Nightwing, Batgirl was never crippled, Jason Todd never killed, and the list could go on forever.  When Hollywood does a remake of every TV show under the sun, you know they are looking for what they would consider sure things.  And what better source material than something that (a) was never translated to the film at all and (b) has been a proven seller in its own medium already.

  10. My thought is that this flood of comic movies comes not from the demand of the masses, but because Hollywood can’t find a script for a blockbuster worth shooting.  Tell me what’s easier:

    1) Searching through mindless script after mindless script

    2) Take a character and world clearly established and make a movie.

    You also have to consider that this could be some of the early taste of the type of back lash from the writer’s strike.  Hollywood needs quick money, and established franchises are the quickest way to do it.  I don’t think this flood of comic book movies is going to stop.  I just hope, as Romo hopes, that it doesn’t destroy the genre.

    And I agree with Jimski that if a movie is bad, it’s bad, regardless of the material.  The Hulk by Ang Lee was a good movie.  It wasn’t great and it didn’t change the world like Spider-Man, but damn if it didn’t entertain.

  11. Conor’s right; the movie business runs in cycles.  There’s a hot genre, everyone jumps on the bandwagon, and when the genre eats itself alive, everyone jumps off to find the next big thing.  The difference with (specifically) super hero movies (saying specifically super hero moves because there are plenty of non-superhero comic-inspired films out there like "Road to Perdition" and "American Splendor") is what Johnorlandella hit right on the head: the technology is finally at a place where filmmakers can tell these stories without having them look ridiculous.  Another reason why I think superhero movies are probably here to stay for awhile: we are human beings living in Western Civilization.  History has shown that we crave stories about superior, heroic, almost god-like individuals doing amazing deeds and defeating evil.  Whether it’s Spider-Man, Superman, The Odyssey, The Aeneid or Beowulf, we’ve been telling stories in this template for thousands of years.  Go brush up on your Joseph Campbell and you’ll see what I mean.

  12. Mike and Jimski, I salute you. A brilliantly written piece. And I agree wholeheartedly with the comments before me.

    The whole EW article is hypocritical. He calls out certain, very carefully chosen, comic book movies for being lazy, and yet he’s written one of the laziest pieces of journalism I’ve seen in a long while. I’m not saying the guy’s a bad writer, or gonna go into a fanboy rant about he’s a douchebag or whatever. Don’t know the dude, but based on this piece of writing I have no desire to read anything else he’s written. Ever.

    As a Batman guy, I’ll cite the most obvious example to me of his laziness. He’s essentially saying comic book movies are ruining summer movie season for being mediocre or bad. Then he gets to The Dark Knight, which no one’s even seen yet, and says this:

    "Christopher Nolan is supertalented but this is the 6th Batman movie in 20 years"

    And? Where’s the critique there? Yes, there’s been 6 movies over TWO DECADES, and some were not not good. But the general critical response to the last one, and the buzz on the forthcoming one seems to be decidedly positive. It almost feels like he was forced into mentioning TDK in his piece to avoid the "what about the Dark Knight argument" from readers (again, futile when no one has seen it), but couldn’t bring himself to say anything other than to hint at Batman & Robin while still saying how much he likes Chris Nolan… You know, just in case he gets that interview with him in July.

    Wow! I can’t remember the last time something I read got me this riled up.

  13. I love how he goes a great rant about how all the movies suck based on Daredevil and the Hulk but when he gets to Iron Man or Batman Begins, he just pretty much skips over it entirely because, as we all know, it kind of ruins your argument that all superhero movies if some superhero movies don’t suck.

     God coment by Mike and Jim, to be sure.

  14. Good comments*

  15. I think a lot of the problem with the movie industry is that once they find a new horse to ride the flog it to death.  Right now that horse is comic books.  Like Neb above me said, comics is sort of a proving ground for ideas.  And superheroes are basically the comics equivalent of summer blockbusters.  So while I can’t fault movie executives for looking to the comics world for proven ideas and saying, "Hey, let’s make a movie out of that." I can find fault with the scattershot technique that they use in finding ideas.  Just because Batman’s popular, and Halle Berry’s all kinds of good lookin’, does not mean that making a "Catwoman" "movie" is a good idea.

    I think the greatest strength of the comic book as a medium is that an artist can try pretty much any idea that springs to mind, and if it doesn’t sell well it’s not the end of the world.  Sure the industry’s dominated by Super-Hero books, but I think there’s much more experimentalism in the world of comics than in film.  Especially by the DC and Marvel as compared to the big movie houses.  In the movie industry they find something that works and do that same thing over and over and over, until everyone’s sick of it and then they find something new.  The Ring was popular?  Quick by up every Japanese horror film you can get your hands on!  Holy crap, people liked X-Men and Spider-Man?  Get Marvel on the phone yesterday!  I want the rights to everything in their stable!  I desperately feel like the movie industry would be much healthier if the studios would focus less on making $150 million movies, that rake in hundreds of millions in revenue, and instead focus on making smaller movies that the directos and screen-writers actually care about that pull in a more modest profit, but because they’re labors of love for the people involved, are a lot more likely to actually be good films.  I mean look at some of the comics that get mentioned over and over by the guys… Criminal, Powers, Scalped, Captain America, Fables, Invincible; these are labors of love.  Written and drawn by guys who love what they do, and love the story they’re telling.  They cross a pretty large gamut of styles from street level crime (Criminal) to huge super-hero stories (Invincible).  A lot of what makes a story good are love and originality, and comics can do that in spades because it doesn’t cost $150 million to make a comic.  And I think the movie industry could do it, but they choose to go a safer route that is largely dumbing down the audience, and showing us the same thing over and over in a seemingly never ending cycle.

  16. If I understand this guy’s point, especially about Spiderman, his problem is "Hey, what’s all this character drama and story doing in my popcorn-consumption-based explosion porn?"  Really?  I never thought I’d see the day where we gave a soap box to the gibbering semi-sapients who decry character development and story in any movie.

  17. I love how he goes into a great rant about how all the superhero movies suck based on Daredevil and the Hulk but when he gets to Iron Man or Batman Begins, he just pretty much skips over them entirely because, as we all know, it kind of ruins your argument that all superhero movies suck if some superhero movies don’t suck.

    Good comments by Mike and Jim, to be sure.

    Fixed.  Wow, it is clearly way too early in the morning for me.

  18. look in the 80s they flooded the market with generic action movies and the 90s was the time of the comedy.  Its a phase, a very welcomed phase.  I say keep em coming they’re so much better then the movies that would have made the summer.  Ya some of them will suck, not all movies rock example Indy4. 

  19. Okay, I’ve done some thinking and I can kinda see where this guy is coming from even if I don’t agree with him because I like super hero movies.  Ever since SPIDER-MAN the studios have been geared almost exclusively towards developing big tent pole summer release super hero movies and that’s really got to suck if you don’t like that kind of thing, and not everyone does. 

  20. I read the EW article all the way through and did the same thing Jimski did. Eyes were rolling throughout as well as a throwing up a little in my mouth. Jimski’s right. You can’t really give creedence to someone who throws an infested blanket over a whole genre. How does someone like Nashawhatever-his-name-is get a job writing about entertainment with drivel like this?  I knew there was a reason I cancelled my subscription to EW seven years ago.

    On the idea of comic book movies flooding the movie market, I don’t mind at all. I do think that there’s always a threat of overload as there is with any fad. But, the positives of this recent trend seem to far outweigh the potential temporary negative backlash. Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Elektra were made because comic book movies are moneymakers, just like Saw 2 through 6, Hostel 1 & 2, Turistas, The Ruins, and countless other forgettable teen torture-porn movies were made because teen torture-porn movies became big moneymakers. That’s the way of the business of Hollywood.

    I just saw the pics of the GI Joe costumes. WTF?  Who thought Dennis Quaid’s old-ass would be perfect for Flint/Gen. Hawk? He looks so uncomfortable in that muscle tee and camo pants. And Rain better put a frickin’ mask on before the movie starts rolling or Storm Shadow is completely ruined for me. Speaking of masks. Why doesn’t Destro have one??? his face should be completely encased in metal. If you have to make a GI Joe movie then there’s no negotiating a Destro without a metal mask.

    Also, I liked the first Hulk movie. Didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it with a passion like a lot people seemed to have.

    And, Ant-Man, with Edgar Wright writing and directing it, will kick so much ass when it comes out.

  21. I would argue that we’re not talking about "comic book movies" as much as super hero movies.

  22. To be fair, you have Speed Racer, Indy, Prince Caspian, Zohan, Mongol, Get Smart, Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Sex and the City, Mamma Mia, and the X-Files this summer.  And last summer had a crapload of blockbuster non-superhero movies like Die Hard, Harry Potter, Bourne, Pirates, and Transformers so if you don’t like the spandex, there’s other stuff to munch your popcorn with.

  23. I think if you get four or five superhero movies a summer, that is probably still below the saturation point. A superhero at most twice a month for the summer is probably not going to be enough to ruin it for all superhero movies especially if at least two of them are great.

  24. Amen Josh.  What about Ghostworld, A History of Violence, American Splendor, 300, etc. 

    The guy lost me when he said the even though he hates super hero movies, he can’t wait for "The Watchmen".  Sorry dude, you can’t have it both ways.

    It kind of reminds me when I was young and I thought I hated jazz (before I discovered Miles, Coltrane, Adderley, JJ Johnson, etc.).  Eventually I learned that I hate BAD jazz.  Just like I hate bad country, pop or any other music genre.  There is plenty of great stuff out there if you are willing to do the work to find it!!!!

    Bean

  25. @NealAppeal – I disagree.  If we had five superhero movies every summer things would end really quickly.

  26. One other point, the article’s author laughs about how Hollywood is making an "Ant-Man" movie while failing to note it is being written and directed by Edgar Wright of "Spaced", "Shaun of the Dead" & "Hot Fuzz" fame. You think maybe the people producing the movie understand its possibly comic elements?

  27.  Rant to follow, sorry ahead of time:

    What I say to this guy is, write or make something that 1/10 as many people are going to enjoy as any of the movies you are trashing, and then I’ll care.  Hell, compare your complete unknowness to the fans of say, a Bendis.  Get one person who has been affected so much by your writing that they will wait half a day to meet you and have you sign your little bullcrap piece in EW and then I’ll listen.

    EW and magazines like that always get the hater writing for them.  I worked in alternative radio (very small time, college, alternative radio) in the early 90’s, and we always had this kind of guy, who couldn’t just live and let live.  Some people like Jimi Hendrix, some people like Dick Dale–no one has to suffer for this kind of choice or be insulted for choosing one or the other.  They have to crap on what is popular or what is ‘en vogue’ to make themselves feel: smart, important, cool, avant gard–take your pick.

    EW dude, go ahead and watch Bottlerocket for like, time #237, think about how it got cheated out of an Oscar, and tell anyone who will listen that Iron Man is for morons, sheep, sell-outs, or whatever makes you feel better about yourself.  Let the rest of us enjoy the movies we want to enjoy, and we will do the same for you.

  28. @SteveM

    remember that most career reviewers are wannabe or failed writers / artists 

  29. @minithin I don’t think that’s really a fair assesment. There are a few people who are in the buissness of crapping all over everything, but I think most reviewers are just opinionated people who really love the things they review. I think critics really can serve a purpose–to point people from things that are good, and the help them avoid things that would be a waste of time and money.

    I don’t get the sense that this EW guy is failed writer or artist. I just get the sense that he’s a guy who likes to rant and over-generalize and whine about things he observes and doesn’t understand or like.

  30. All this about reviewers is all well and good until we get to (another podcast) when *you* (whoever you are at the particular time) liked something I didn’t like.

    Then I get accused of being a hater.  Remember, there’s a bad review and there’s a *bad* bad review.

  31. Josh or anyone else: I’m totally fine with you not liking something I like, or even saying you don’t like it (writing it, etc).  I totally respect that.  I realize that we are all not going to like the same things or to the same degree–but when people just go out of their way to crap on whole genres of something, or do act like they are ‘above the masses’ it just really pisses me off.

    Josh, you hate stuff I like all the time, and vice versa, and yet, I still am a weekly listener.  You (and the guys) just don’t act like a douche about it.

    I accuse you of being ‘the indy guy’, not the hater…;) 

  32. "Absolutely. There Will Be Blood? Shanghai Noon? Same movie, as far as I’m concerned."

    You know you pictured Jackie Chan in the Daniel Day Lewis role.

  33. "I do worry that the studios are going to flood the market with too many superhero movies and they’re eventually going to kill the very thing making them so much money.  It’s Hollywood, it’s what they do."

    I guess the same thing could be said for children/fantasy book adaptations. We’ve seen The Spiderwick Chronicles, Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Mimzy, Bridge to Terabithia etc…

    Considering that the Watchmen was arguably the beginning of the end of superhero comics in the 90s. The film adaptation could carry the same curse, however unlikely.

  34. Does anyone else see what Hollywood is doing with non-licensed superhero characters as a step forward?  "The Incredibles", "Hancock", people writing screenplays about super powered characters that never appeared in a comic book.  I think it just cements superheroics as another genre division.  Under comedy, you have romantic comedy, family comedy, teen comedy, gross out comedy.  And now under action, we have western, martial arts, sci-fi, and spandex.  It’s just a genre like anything else, and its bridging media left and right as original conceptions.  How about some more novels about superheroes?  Let’s get snobby while were at it.

  35. I’ve never read that EW article as I see the mainstream movie public generally ignorant and bias towards all comic based films, not everyone of course,I’m sure there are people out there who have never heard of Hellboy and loved it. The title of this article alone seems redundant (no offense) but simply because we know they’re not ruining summer and also there are good and bad films in every medium. I could care less what narrow minded critics think about anything, let alone a subject I’m passionate about, I’m gonna form my own opinion either way and it won’t matter what EW or my closest friends thought, love what you love, enjoy or don’t enjoy, its a solo choice, and one I’m grateful for.