As the assistant editor of a 2007 short documentary about glass sculpting in Central Florida, I know a thing or two about the movie business. For starters, sometimes it's the people closest to a film who end up understanding it the least.
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1973: American Graffiti
1999: Phantom Menace
2016: Food court.
So while I might not be balls-deep in the industry, I've spent a lifetime ogling it through Hollywood's soiled peephole. And so, from my unnecessarily perverse vantage point, here's my advice on how to fix seven modern movie franchises that have a chronic inability to understand what the hell to do with hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars.
7 Half The Reason We Like Superman Is Watching Him Be Awkward Clark Kent
Superman's powers read like something an asshole child made up on the playground, making every cinematic conflict he has reliant on the villain stumbling upon an unusual mineral. What's the goddamn appeal? We obviously enjoy Superman films (I certainly do), so let's look at them from highest- to lowest-rated on Rotten Tomatoes and see if there's a pattern:
It's bad enough to drive a man to drink.
The originals are most liked, then broken up by the modern films and followed by their sequels -- implying that the longer a series lasts, the less audiences like it. When adjusted for inflation, the box office also reflects this model. Meanwhile, Man Of Steel's brooding, murderous depiction of Krypton's last son has resounded less positively than the dying cries of baby seal. Because no one wants to sit through two hours of the "hero" being an unrelatable alien hacking down city blocks.
So How Do We Fix It?
I'm all for making Superman a villain in someone else's story, but Man Of Steel failed to reach audiences because it didn't know how to make its eponymous anti-hero a root-for-able protagonist. Specifically, we never got to meet alter-ego Clark Kent and his awkward crush on Lois Lane -- which, besides his relationship with his parents, is maybe the only relatable aspect of this character. Whether we realize it or not, Clark's secret Lois boner is like 80 percent of why we watch this garbage. Just look at Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman, and the moment that show's ratings began to plummet after season three ...
"Derailed like a locomotive!"
The episode in question was the third of the fourth season -- the one in which Lois and Clark finally get married. And once the knot was tied, audience interest deflated faster than Dean Cain's career ... thanks to that entire "will they, won't they" conflict of the show getting thrown out the window.
And this is the same pattern we see in the original films, as the more hated sequels strayed farther away from Superman hiding his identity, until Man Of Steel made Lois Lane completely aware of his human disguise. Because I'm pretty sure Zack Snyder thinks a "protagonist" is a unit of measurement that old-timey nuns used to calculate the trajectory of orphan tears.
6 It's Time For James Bond To Stop Being Jason Bourne
Every new generation of Bond movie reflects the prevailing action movie tropes of the day. We tend to forget that this is why Casino Royale had a parkour scene and Die Another Day blessed the audiences with a surfing Pierce Brosnan. This is also why, after The Bourne Identity hit it huge back in 2002, the producers of Casino Royale flat-out said that they were going to emulate Bourne's ball-pummeling demeanor.
This scene was originally going to introduce new Bond henchman The Gimp.
Eat up that raw testicular carnage, because this isn't your father's Bond anymore. This was mopey Bond -- a man actually aware of his own sociopathic tendencies and rampant alcoholism. And yet, all while this was going down, the series still wasn't able to defeat Jason Bourne at the domestic box office.
But as the Matt Damon series went away, Bond was finally able to find glory after Skyfall was handed over to a non-action director and the series bounced back from the scriptless Quantum Of Solace. Spectre was equally awesome, but saw audience ratings start to dip as it tried to bring the series back to its campy, Blofeldian roots. And that's where we are now: trapped between two worlds as producers insist a return of Daniel Craig, while the actor claims, well ...
"Bullshit! If you didn't do it after Quantum, you won't do it now."
So How Do We Fix It?
Lord knows I love that cold-eyed lobsterback Daniel Craig, but we're gonna need a new Bond. But before you start your engines about Idris Elba or Clive Owen or Tom Hardy or Jamie Foxx, the more important thing to ask isn't who will play the next 007, but rather who is going to direct it. Because along with a new title character, it's time to once again decide who gets to re-calibrate the series as an action franchise. One name comes to mind ...
Pro: Christopher Nolan successfully took all the ridiculous gadgets and characters of the Batman series and somehow made them feel plausible and fun.
Con: James Bond would continue to be moody and dark. Another possibility would be to embrace and return to the '70s camp, which would require a director seemingly stuck in that era ...
Imagine that shit. But no matter who does it, what's important is that they punt all shaky-cam shots back to 2002. And this isn't the only punch-and-shoot series that needs to stop thinking about Matt Damon ...