Wars and Windmills

13 April 2007

Too Kitsch Or Not Too Kitsch?

Since my dad bought me my first comic book, The Uncanny X-men #279, comic books have run thick in my blood. Those were the arcadian days when only in the greatest of geek dreams would there be a super-hero based film that met the dogged expectations from the nerd populace. However, the technology was weighed, and found wanting. Attempts were made, scenes were shot--things were said, fists were thrown...now we should just try our best to move on and forget about it.

But who could honestly forget the spurious "BIFF" "POW" "BOOM" of the Batman series, or The Flash TV series form the early 90s, or Superman 3 and up. They, like many attempts after, missed the mark because they emphasized too much on the comic in comic books. For me the comic book film potential breached in 1989 with Tim Burton's first installment (and maybe the second) of Batman. It completely regenerated the image of the Dark Knight from campy blue tights and shark fighting, to a conflicted persona in a gritty cowl...that completely restricts head movement, which is besides the point. It was a harbinger of great things to come...unless you count the subsequent movies in the series, then it is a step backwards and a sign of degeneracy and perversion.

I say that because comics are read for the visual stimulus as much as for the story, in fact it could be said that the art drives the plot along as much so as the writing. This is what makes the appeal for moving pictures to tell the story so appealing, but at the same time difficult to recreate. So while Batman 3 and 4 had plenty of visual stimuli...neon, chest-plate nipples, and wobbly bat-ears abound in those films...they weren't coupled with even decent writing. The stimulus was pure sugar, offering no real substance not unlike Daredevil and other feigned productions. Other miserable attempts are movies like The Hulk, Catwoman, the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four, the released Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, The Hulk, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Punisher, and, did I mention Daredevil?. Sadly the list of movies that fall under this feeble category is far longer then the list of the opposite.

This atrocity happens when the studios see Spider-man have the number one weekend box office opening of all time, then realize what they have been missing and then all of a sudden fecundity is the name of the game, and the quicker the better.

The difference between a movie put out solely to capitalize on the market and the ones that just do capitalize on the market lie in the hands of the director. Sam Raimi, Brian Singer, Christopher Nolan are massive comic fans, and the result is obvious: films the previous untapped nerd viewers can feel excited about. Not ones that rape plunder and pillage the precious version of things just to sooth Hollywood's seething comic-book-movie-teat that was left unmilked for far too long. Just because studios can make a realistic looking and action packed super hero flick, doesn't mean they should; as seen with the aforementioned debacles. The milking should be done by folks who know what they are doing and care that the essence characters remain intact, as seen with Sam Raimi's Spider-man and Brian Singer's X-Men and Super-man Returns.

Case in point: Ang Lee. Bless his dumb dumb heart straight to heaven. He knew more about gay cowboys then The Hulk, and he should have stuck with that. That way other directors wouldn't feel the need to pretend Lee's version never happened and start fresh with a new version...Nolan wouldn't have had to reinvent the wheel when Schumacher bent the spokes--though the result of the latter was (as I push the nerd glasses up my nose) was pretty stellar...and Singer wouldn't have had to write his movie to take place after Super-man 2, disregarding that others were ever made.

The maxim movie studios should live by: A good comic book in the right hands will yield a great movie.

  • Road to Perdition
  • V for Vendetta
  • 300
  • A History of Violence
  • The Crow
  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Begins
  • X-Men 1-3
  • Super-man Returns
  • Spider-man 1-3
  • Sin City

    Basically, this whole rant is to justify my nerd fueled trip to Colorado to see Spider-Man 3 with Dan and Nate and Dan's two (or three) brothers, and a theater full of strangers.

  • 06 April 2007

    The Deluxe Van Dyke Please

    You know, I would be far more apt to host advertisements on my blog (like blogger keeps trying to get me to do) if the ads were more like ones I found while reading comic books and Boys Life in the halcyon of my youth. Back in the days when ads were often far more entertaining then the cheap merchandise they delivered; which is the second greatest trick the devil ever pulled...x-ray glasses, *sigh*.

    These gems were unearthed at these THREE GREAT SITES.