Another part of Batman v. Superman’s problem was that it just wasn’t about the titular characters, whereas if it had been and nothing else, the plot could have been simpler, possibly resulting in a more balanced movie. Characters like Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman and Doomsday were not needed, and when one thinks of the screen time wasted on these characters, it makes one wonder what more could have been done with the characters that mattered.
hand against Apocalypse because while we know the Avengers are going to split and face each other, Civil War’s story unfolds in a way where we don’t know who will succeed or potentially lose their life, which brings about drama and suspense and emotionally involves the audience in what’s transpiring onscreen. And with all that said, where exactly are these films going?
tries, with a heavily anticipated sequel due for release next year.
ing on what the Comic Book Guy said. I feel a certain type of comic book movie is dying off, meaning the formulaic, predictSo why is the MCU is so consistently suc- able type. Only comic book movies and cessful when most other comic book films, shows that tell deep, emotionally-involved barring a few notable exceptions, tend gain stories with these characters are going to little traction or flop completely? This is survive. It’s the only real way we members one of the many conversations I’ve had of the audience can connect with these with my coworker, the Comic Book Guy, characters. This is why Captain America: and his assessment is rather interesting. The Winter Soldier and the Marvel Netflix It’s hard to say just when the “comic book series Daredevil and Jessica Jones are held movie genre” appeared in cinema because Following his viewing of Apocalypse, the in such high regard, because not only are Now, we finally arrive at X-Men: Apocafor different people, there are different Comic Book Guy said (and for the sake of their heroes understood by the audience, lypse, a film which has the luxury of being starting points. We have Tim Burton’s context it should be noted he is not a huge but the villains are as well. For example, part of a rather questionable franchise. The Batman (1989) in one hand, Blade (1998) fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight in Jessica Jones, we’re not following X-Men films have been down such a rocky in another, as well as various other works, trilogy, particularly the latter two films): someone stopping their nemesis from road since the eponymous film’s release but most probably credit X-Men (2000) gaining absolute power and take over the in 2000, having a strong start with the with cracking the code to the genre’s “Superhero film/show writers, the plot world. We’re watching a woman confront first two entries before going massively commercialization. X-Men was the comic does not have to revolve around an end of a personal tormenter from her past, standdownhill in the third and fourth. Origins: book film to introduce the formula that’s the world event. These nukes, portals and ing up against everything she fears. Wolverine is a film I find so atrocious, I become so predictable with these types apocalyptic plots have become so predictgenerally refuse to acknowledge its exisof movies, though we must remember able that they’re not threatening anymore. For comic book adaptations, we have to tence. X-Men: First Class (2011) saved the it was a brand new thing at the time. XDeadpool, The Dark Knight (which know why the villain chooses their course X-Men franchise the same way Batman Men showed films based on comic book should prove my non-biased opinion), X2, of action, and to a certain extent symBegins (2005) did for Batman after Batcharacters could be grounded in reality yet Civil War, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, pathize with them. This is why Vincent man & Robin (1997). Aside from the fact retaining the source material’s fantastic Daredevil, and Raimi’s Spider-man are all D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk in Daredevil James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s elements, all while being commercial to superhero films where the threat is not an is such a praised character, because we performances as Charles Xavier and Erik audiences on a mass scale. apocalypse. sympathize with him, understand him, Lehnsherr were unexpectedly outstanding, and even root for him most of the time. First Class utilized a simple plot featuring For the next 12 years, numerous films Smaller, personal threats will help explore He’s not just doing something frivolous simple characters with simple motivations, depicting various comic book characters the individual traits and personalities of like blow up the planet. He wants to save while also bringing a less grounded and hit theaters, some performing better than these characters. We learn nothing from, Hell’s Kitchen, just as Daredevil does. The more comic book atmosphere to the fran- others. But the game-changer came in the “Oh the world is ending, I should try hard two go about it in entirely different ways, chise, unlike the first two installments. summer of 2012 when Disney and Marvel to stop that.” But, “I’ll beat the armor off and Fisk’s actions directly affect the other finally debuted the long-awaited team-up of my teammate if it means I’ll keep my characters in the show, whom we also care X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), film The Avengers. friend safe,” or, “ I’ll kill any and everyabout. It’s more personal and that’s what the sequel to First Class, sort of went in one in my path to get revenge and save my these films need to remain interesting. The the opposite direction by featuring a far The idea of doing a franchise featuring girl,” actually say things about who these fact Netflix is taking on these character more convoluted plot, yet still retaining an ensemble of characters, each of whom people are. arcs in the form of multiple episode arcs the strong comic vibe of its predecessor. would receive a solo introductory film only means we’re going to get more, and Oddly enough, this experiment worked before the grand finale where everyone Read the books, learn WHO they are as frankly proper, development, showing the well for the X-Men series, and served as finally meets, had never really been done well as what they can do, and then keep it subject matter is still very much relevant. an apology for mistakes made with the in live-action cinema. It was a huge simple.” This is what successful live-action comic direction of previous entries. Unfortunate- gamble that started when rights for some book adaptations are evolving into. ly, Days of Future Past worked too well characters were still controlled by different We’ve all heard the phrase, “Comic book because its successor, Apocalypse, wasn’t studios, and not too many people believed movies are dying off.” Director Steven It’s not about making a comic book able to top it in the eyes of most. it would pay off. Many thought AvengSpielberg even commented on this subject movie or show anymore. It’s about makers would come out and either flop, or saying: ing a thriller, a drama or even a comedy. A film like Apocalypse brings about prob- just be OK before fading into a footnote. Civil War and Jessica Jones work because lems because when you’re audience knows This wasn’t the case as Avengers quickly “We were around when the Western died they’re heavily character-driven dramas. the protagonists will face off against an became a smash hit, breaking box office and there will be a time when the superWinter Soldier works because it’s a politiapocalyptic threat before the movie is even records and lasting an entire summer cin- hero movie goes the way of the Western. cal thriller. released, you’ve automatically put yourematic season, an extremely difficult feat It doesn’t mean there won’t be another ocself into a corner. When it comes down these days. casion where the Western comes back and This is a time where these films and shows to it, one of two things will happen: The the superhero movie someday returns. have to rise above the stereotypes associworld will end, or it won’t. And with these Knowing their future was secure, Disney ated with them in the past. Without that, types of films, about 99.9 percent of the and Marvel took the MCU into directions Of course, right now the superhero movie we’ll keep getting generic, predictable time, the world spins on. So right there, some would have thought too farfetched is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that results. Some studios have wised up to you’ve made the more skeptical members in previous years. A film like Guardians these cycles have a finite time in poputhis and some haven’t, which is why some of audience ask, “Why should I care about of the Galaxy (2014) would never have lar culture. There will come a day when projects are an overwhelming success what happens?” In some respects, it can thought to be a success prior to Avengers’ the mythological stories are supplanted and others drastically bomb. Comic book make any characters’ deaths pointless, as release, and even upon announcement of by some other genre that possibly some movies aren’t dying, they’re evolving, and well as the entirety of the film. Guardians, many people including myself young filmmaker is just thinking about in the process of evolution, only the fittest were skeptical of whether it work. As it discovering for all of us.” make it through. The nukes need to go, We’re in a comic book movie era now turned out, Guardians is now one of the and allow depth to flourish. where a film like Civil War has the upper MCU’s most successful and popular enI agree with this to a certain extent, touch-
MARCH 29 - APRIL 18, 2017