5 Things Comic Fans Want In Movies (That Wouldn’t Work)
As a comic fan, the wave of superhero movies can sometimes drive me mad with power. "A new Superman movie, you say? I will have these specifications for it, and if it does not meet them, I will be remarkably irrational," I bellow as I munch on a giant turkey leg and feed people to my Rancor. I have to remind myself to rein it in, because sometimes my whims won't exactly make for a compelling movie. I find this to be a common trait among most fans of this genre. As much as I love my peers, sometimes we can ask for some pretty unreasonable things. Here are five common comic fan wishes that often turn into cinematic poo roasts.
Whether it's Wolverine's outfit or Lex Luthor's haircut, costumes that reflect comic book visuals are either viewed as a necessity for a movie to be a "proper adaptation" or as a nice added bonus. They're super helpful in comics. If the entire Justice League gathered without their costumes in a panel, you'd wonder why the Coalition for Ageless White Dudes had decided to flash mob Wonder Woman's house. Also, on a comic page, it's way more dramatic and satisfying when Batman doesn't just punch the Riddler, but every shade of green that's visible to the human eye.
And when superhero movie makers decide "Hmm. Instead of the classic tights, he should wear a bulletproof vest that covers the entire body," sometimes it feels like they're embarrassed to be making a comic book movie. "Look, what may have worked in your little funny books doesn't exactly work in the real world, okay? As the script supervisor on Big Mama's House 3 and director of Green Arrow 2: The First Green Arrow Flopped So Fuck It, Batman, Too, I Guess, I know what will translate to the screen." But realizing that the X-Men might look a little silly if they showed up to quell the anti-mutant riot in their Rockettes cosplay is a very small part of the issue.
Mutants deserve the right to look as fucking stylish as everyone else.
The biggest thing that's not talked about is that when you're decked out in one big pair of colorful leggings and your mask is a groin guard with horns, it becomes a nightmare to do any kind of emoting. People gave Christian Bale a ton of shit for his facial expressions. He was both Christian Bale's Batman and the SNL parody of Christian Bale's Batman all in one go. When he wanted to show that he was tired, he looked like he was preparing to sneeze all of Gotham away.
It's cool, Jim. I packed tissues. Batman always packs tissues.
And when he wanted to look angry, he tensed up every muscle in his face and made sounds like my dog suddenly encountering a pigeon.
But I'm honestly surprised that the people behind the first Batman movie didn't just decide that maybe he'd have a sweet bat hat instead of going with the full mask. When you've got half of your face covered by a helmet, you have to dynamite every emotion that you have to 10. If you don't, you end up like Val Kilmer, who was great if you enjoy a Batman who seems completely unimpressed by all of this Gotham shit going on.
Why do you think all of the other characters who wear masks are constantly being put in scenarios where they get to take that stuff off? Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire, even when fighting crime, treated their Spider-Man masks like they were combating terrible rubber allergies. At the end of the first Spider-Man, they took great pains to show how the Green Goblin seemed to specifically be exploding the important face parts of the costume away.
"You really are beautiful, Parker. PREPARE TO DIE."
It's because, during the final showdown, it's going to look pretty silly when the final line is delivered by a head bobbing around in a latex grocery bag. In the comics, you can draw whatever kind of emotion you want on Batman's face, with whatever font you want the dialogue to be in, and you can adjust the mask to make sense around it. In a movie, you're acting against the elaborate head piece you've received $50 million to stick your nose into, and if you don't at least go a little big, everything you do will be a bored declaration against fun.
The Hero As An Old Person!
The Dark Knight Returns is a great comic that told the story of a 55-year-old Batman returning to, well, fight even more crime. It was adapted into a kickass cartoon that featured Peter Weller as a grandfatherly Batman who could still participate in sweet anime fights. And often I hear people say "They should make a real movie out of it." And man, let me tell you, please god no.
And I don't have a problem with old Batman stuff. Remember Batman Beyond, the series about a retired Batman who gets visited by this kid named Terry McGinnis? Batman is all like "I'm old and mad and being Batman is too dangerous," but Terry is like "But guys killed my dad and it sucks," and Batman has to say "Well, okay, that seems reasonable." That series was awesome, and I'd be so down to watch whoever they pick to be an old Batman viciously insult whatever former Disney Channel star that they pick to be the new Batman. They could even have the old Batman put on a costume and throw a punch or two before new Batman takes care of business. Someone throw $150 million at that project. We'll figure out the logistics (director, writer, everything else) later.
Who needs a director? Just let the badass-ness guide you.
It's just jarring to watch a guy who moves one way suddenly move in an entirely different way when they have to be replaced by a stunt double or CGI thing. The biggest issue with this isn't the fact that it defies reality -- Batman regularly fights a guy made of clay, a zombie, and plants. It's that it defies the reality that was established a minute ago.
A problem that we still haven't quite settled in special-effects-heavy films is making CGI characters move like the actors who portray them during all the talky, kissy parts. It's what caused Legolas to look like he weighed six pounds during every action scene in The Hobbit movies, and it's what made Ben Affleck, whose body type can now best be described as "beef titan," lose all the effects of gravity when he had to zipline around in Batman V. Superman.
"Computer Me is surprisingly mobile. Earth Me has to go sideways through most doors."
I love "old gunslinger comes back out for one last fight" stories. The best western movies feature a protagonist that walks like an arthritis catalog and sounds like a scratched Merle Haggard record. I love Old Man Logan, in which a geriatric Wolverine and Hawkeye go on the most violent road trip ever. I even like Spider-Man: Reign, wherein an old Spider-Man comes out of retirement to kill some bad guys and learn that he literally spermed the love of his life to death.
Spider-Man / Spider-Man / His dick's a weaponized power plant.
But I refuse to see a movie in which an elderly Avenger hobbles around until the magic of computers causes him to take off like the audience doesn't remember what just happened. Okay, fine. I'll see it. But the Facebook status that I'll write about it will be mostly negative.
Huge, Comic-History-Altering Moment #842!
Every few years, an event changes the comic world forever. Or at least changes it for about a year before things settle back down. Characters die, whole universes are destroyed, and thousands of issues of comic books go into those big cardboard bins in the back of the shop, where only the shadow men lurk. And they've happened so often that everyone has favorites. Personally, mine is World War Hulk, because there's something both simple and indescribably brilliant about the idea that Hulk would just beat the shit out of half of the beloved superheroes in the whole world.
Ah, my favorite van Gogh.
And as with all cool things that exist in a cool place, you want them to exist in another cool place. It's why I always quote The Fellowship Of The Ring during sex, and it's also why I have to make it through a whole performance of Nas' Illmatic before I can leave my local Krispy Kreme. But these dreams don't always pan out. I want a World War Hulk movie so bad. So bad. I'm only halfheartedly reciting "The Bridge Of Khazad-dum" to my wife because I'm too busy thinking about a World War Hulk film.
But I have to remember that unless the movie universe is building to that in some way, it's not going to be the satisfying World War Hulk that anyone imagines. Cinematic universes are already too full of side scenes that basically serve to sell us on buying another ticket in two years. To watch a World War Hulk that stops midway for Captain America to vaguely hint about things that will go on three movies from now would be worse than not watching one at all. There has to be at least the illusion of organic storytelling going on. Otherwise, it's like when my fifth-grade teacher made a clumsy Pokemon reference. I should be very excited, but there's still the overwhelming feeling of "Oh no. Not like this."
Who's that Pokemon? It's THE INADEQUACIES OF THE CURRENT EDUCATION SYSTEM.
With a bunch of charts that show us exactly where these franchises are going to be in five years, surprise becomes so much more important. A big criticism of the current batch of Marvel films is that they're good in, like, a Target sort of way. Target definitely maintains quality control a little better than some of its competitors, but I've never been surprised by what I find in a Target. Target gets the job done, while one Ross in Southwest Virginia still sells working Super Nintendos for $29.99. And I don't want a World War Hulk that just "gets the job done" before moving on to whatever mega project that it's building to; I want a World War Hulk that sells me a Super Nintendo for $29.99. They should put that on the poster.
With Channing Tatum being the glue that holds the tattered pieces of his Gambit project together, Ben Affleck maintaining a very "Eh, whatever" attitude toward his solo Batman film, and The Rock getting a Black Adam movie simply because he's The Rock, there's never been a better time to be a comic character that doesn't necessarily need a team to survive. But only The Rock is going to be able to maintain any sort of hype or momentum for his movie, mainly because he's the soul of a '60s variety show host trapped in a Gold's Gym promotional flyer.
The Rock will probably propel Black Adam to some kind of success, because even though the character is the equivalent of the plain chicken sandwich on the Wendy's menu, The Rock is a big enough star to push past any qualms. People will see the movie because he's in it. Ben Affleck is more of a gamble, since his initial outing as Batman made a lot of people wonder if maybe this whole movie-making thing had gone too far. And Channing Tatum's drawing power is honestly anyone's guess, though I personally think he should really be focusing on spinoffs for his This Is The End character, like Danny McBride And Gimp In The 23rd Century.
And that's just for characters that have actors attached to them. There are a load of characters that comic fans want to see ride on the back of that sweet Deadpool success. But there's a difference between a comic character who's famous and a comic character whom people are really excited about. Sure, word of mouth helped make Deadpool a bigger success that anyone imagined, but Deadpool is a character fans go apeshit for. People dig Hawkman or Mystique, but until Hawkman gets multiple viral videos of comic convention antics, that dude is better left flexing behind Green Arrow in crowd shots.
The excitement is kind of hard to gauge, because every character has people who live and breathe them. I would love a Toad movie. Just a movie where he hops around and uses his tongue to pick up stuff. He was my favorite character in the X-Men: Evolution cartoon, and I eagerly awaited the day that the show would kill off 99 percent of its main cast, forcing the writers to change it to Toad: Toad's Evolution. It never happened, but in an age in which fans can petition Netflix to bring back dead shows, I still have a little bit of hope.
He's a weird-looking guy with worse powers than everyone else. I get that.
I know that I'm very much alone in Operation: All-Toad Everything, and if not alone, part of a handful. I also know that if a character stars in a movie and that movie bombs utterly, it's going to be a while before Hollywood gives that character another shot. It's the shittiest part about being a comic fan and a movie fan. If my favorite character doesn't do well onscreen, the rich fathers of comic fans who control those character's cinematic destinies are going to decide "People don't really seem to enjoy that stretch man and his rock friend. We'll see if they pick up in a decade."
"The Fireman and Does ... Something Girl just aren't catching on."
An Even Bigger Cinematic Universe!
I don't want the X-Men and Fantastic Four to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It hurts to type that. The same voice that wants me to put gummy bears in my frozen yogurt, even though I know that they'll just get cold and hard, is the voice that's saying "How cool would it be if the movies Wolverine'd the Avengers?"
It would be cool. And everyone would kind of hate it.
I hate it. I want it so badly, and I hate it.
Not hate it in the sense of "They said that they were going to include Gambit, but instead of Gambit, they cast a clay model of a bird." But hate it in the sense of "This is what I've dreamed about since I poured all the action figures that I had out onto the floor and forced them to smack into each other. And I gotta say, this is not what I expected."
One complaint about team movies stems from when a team member doesn't get that much to do. In X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, both Storm and Cyclops got pushed into the background of teams that they're pretty goddamn important parts of. Fans didn't like that very much. Sure, they got scenes here and there, but those scenes always felt like a writer lazily remembering that Hugh Jackman wasn't the only cast member in the films.
"Great story, guys. Now relate it alllll back to me."
Now force those same characters to share a room with all of the Avengers and all of the Avengers' pals, and you get those same feelings times a thousand. Storm and Rogue and Colossus and Nightcrawler would go from being side characters to characters who stand in the sides of shots and do nothing else. They may get a scene where they smirk and punch a Nazi robot during the climax, but they're gonna get left out of the bits that make that Nazi robot punching mean anything. And if history has shown us one thing, it's that Nazi robot punching is best when there's some emotion behind it.
Daniel has a blog.
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