This summer, movie-goers have been hit with more comic book movies than we’ve seen before in one season. From Thor to Green Lantern to Captain America, 2011 is shaping up to be the year of the superhero. The only problem? Most comic book movies this year have fallen short of previous expectations. Whereas movies featuring Batman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man have cleaned up at the box office, the recent Green Lantern flick hit a wall, falling about a hundred million dollars (!) short of expectations.
Below are My Five reasons why comic book movies aren’t doing as well this year, and what can be done to improve their performance.
5. Been There/Done That. This summer, you can purchase your ticket to see that movie about the young person who obtains awesome powers and abilities, despite his own shortcomings. Through tragedy and personal loss, his newfound power and glory changes him for the better, and he knows that he must use his talenst for the good of his fellow man. Sound familiar? Well, that’s likely because it’s practically EVERY COMIC BOOK MOVIE EVER MADE. Let’s face it: you don’t have to see every superhero movie to know how the main character eventually becomes a superhero. Personal loss? Check. Self-centered nature challenged by said loss and new powers? Check.
Rumor has it the new Superman movie in 2012 will show his origin…yet again. Ditto for the Spider-Man reboot. Do people really need or want to see the origin of superheroes again? Couldn’t it be told in the opening credits so the rest of the movie could be about, you know, heroics? People think that audiences are getting tired of superhero movies. That’s not it. Audiences are getting tired of watching the same movie. A cool costume can only distract from a crappy script for so long.
4. Too Much Eye Candy. There is a myth in Hollywood that has been around forever. That myth is the belief that young men (the most profitable theater customer) need some T&A to attract them to a film. It’s not true. Some of the most successful action/horror/adventure movies of all time told either no love story at all or one that was secondary to the film. Does anyone really believe that kids went to see Transformers because of Megan Fox? Iron Man because of Gywnneth Paltrow? Green Lantern for Blake Lively? Not saying that there should be no female characters in the movie or that they serve no purpose in a comic book story. But, often times, these subplots take away from the overall story if they are tossed in simply to add eye candy no one wants.
It’s like when Hollywood makes the (wrong) assumption that, since teen boys love boobs and guns, they’ll flock to see a woman shooting a gun. They almost never do. And the belief that women will see the movie because there is a hot woman in it is even more insulting. Women don’t go see comic book movies simply because they hear there might be a love story in it. Believe it or not, women are smarter and more selective than that. Yes, there’s a love story in both Batman and Iron Man movies. You know what else they had? Good scripts.
3. 3-D sucks. When “Real D” technology came along a few years ago, it was pretty cool. It was like going to an old retro 3D movie. Then, it started to really suck. Why? Because every third action movie was converted into 3D and the price of the ticket was jacked up. Notice that I did not say these movies were filmed in 3D. They were converted into 3D after the fact.
But no one cares anymore. It costs too much for the ticket and adds nothing to the movie. Plus, it adds to the budget of a movie, so the profit seems less in the long run than it would normally be. Spider-Man was a huge hit and not in 3D. Ditto for the Batman and Iron Man flicks. Avatar pulled it off because it was shot that way. But Thor just put it in to grab some cash. It didn’t work, by the way, as it seems less that 40% of movie-goers have opted to see the 3D version of either it or The Green Lantern. Shoot it in 3D or just release it as-is. Audiences are seeing through the bogus hype.
2. Too childish. Yes, Batman is a dark comic book story. We’ve all learned this and each Batman movie continues to prove it. No, Spider-Man is not quite as dark, nor is Iron Man. What these movies are, however, is movies that are not aimed at children. Hollywood always wants to cater to that young, teen male crowd. Well, Hollywood, stop treating teens like they are five years old and you might get them to come back to the movies. Somewhere over the past several years, Hollywood has decided that, in order to attract teens, a movie needs to look as much like a Disney Channel sitcom as possible. They’re wrong.
When I was a kid, we loved Rambo, The Terminator, Commando, and Aliens. Sixteen is not the same thing as six. And if you think fourteen-year old boys can’t get into R-rated films, you deserve to be charged extra for those crappy 3D glasses. You don’t need to make the movie dark, violent, and creepy in order to attract younger audiences, but you could start by treating young audiences as something other than babies. They don’t want a movie to cater to them, believe it or not. They want to watch a movie like adults do. There’s a reason Predator was a runaway smash, and it’s not because it was written like the back of a Happy Meal bag.
1. Too Much CGI. Oh, how great it is that Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) was invented. Without it, we wouldn’t have had those Jurassic Park dinosaurs or Gollum. And that’s about it. A vast majority of computer-generated effects suck, and it’s mostly because they are made by guys sitting at a computer who are only concerned with showing off what they can make on their screen. Too many Hollywood movies these days think people just want something that looks good without bothering to tell a decent story. CGI is great when it is used to enhance something already filmed with real people. But movies today overdo it.
Somewhere along the lines, Hollywood decided that, rather than “less is more”, there is nothing “more” than “even more”.It’s not enough for a character to fly through the air; now the character spins and flips and does tricks while flying sideways. Why? Who asked for it? And who is the computer tech making it happen that thinks it’s a good idea? What on earth, besides pure computer geek ego would make anyone think people wanted to see R2D2 fly? Or Yoda do back flips? Or any of the silly things that The Green Lantern made appear? Or the fact that the villains in some of these movies look no more realistic than Yosemite Sam? Chances are pretty good that, in Green Lantern, audiences would have rather seen Michael Clarke Duncan in the movie than the CGI alien that had his voice.
Comic book movies aren’t dead. They’ll continue to be made for years, if not decades to come. As long as people long for heros, there will be heros on the big screen. The question is whether or not Hollywood can learn from it’s mistakes in order to improve and make better movies year-after-year. This was just My Five problems with comic book movies. Now let’s hear from you.