Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Snikt!" - Wolverine

I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine over the weekend. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, but it was nothing really to get all worked up over. The casting was great, the acting was good for what the actors had to work with, and the plot/story was generic, choppy at times, quite predictable, and a missed opportunity. 3 out of 5 stars.

Now for what I’ve been thinking about since I saw Wolverine. Over the last 8ish years, comic book movies have been getting better. Because they’ve had bigger budgets, better actors, more well written scripts, call it what you will. But they have been on a upward curve. And that makes me happy.

Granted, there has been a few pitfalls and bumps along the road upwards, but unfortunately, that’s to be expected. But I’ve been kind of working on a theory lately about the comic movie industry. First off, let’s take the few Comic Trilogies that we have at the moment, Spiderman and X-men. Both in their own right I’ve enjoyed and really liked, but to me, there seems to be a pattern forming.

The first movie in each series have been solid and decent origin stories, which is fine and to be expected. Considering the success of said first movie, the second gets a bigger budget, better actors, and BAM! You get a really great second movie. Then this is where they end up going wrong somehow. Both series have had their 3rd movies crash really hard. For me, Im going to chalk it up to a few certain things. I can be totally off base here, but this is my blog, so there.

I’m going to call my theory “The too much stuff” theory. One, too many villains for the hero to fight. They try to squeeze them in, which in turn hurts the development of said villains, which also makes them uninteresting and lifeless. And in the end makes them have less screen time, which in turn makes it seem like the villain is really under powered and weak when our hero takes them out in 2 mins on screen (Venom anyone?). The opposite of this is true to. To many Heroes (Xmen 3???). Again with this, you can’t dedicate the necessary screen time to flesh out the character, and if you do, the rest of the movie suffers.

And 2, to high expectations for the 3rd film to be awesome. Why not, since the first two were awesome? But it happens. With each success comes higher expatiations that the next one will be better. Because of this, I’m kind of getting this apprehensive feeling for Batman 3 if they decide to do it. But hopefully it can break the cycle.

Comment and tell me what you think and have a lively discussion. I also have a developing theory about why spinoffs are mediocre at best But it will come later when I have time to think on it.


Russell said...

I think you make some good points, but what's behind the "too much stuff" theory? Is it that the producers are worried that they've mined all the good stuff so they figure if they work in extra guys it'll make it more interesting? Look at what happened with the first Batman franchise. Team ups galore (that also happened to an extent in the new line with R'as and Scarecrow).

Or is it that it becomes less about staying true to the source material and being artistic and more about getting it up on the screen again to make money. In which case they hire douchebags like Brett Ratner (X3, and possibly the forthcoming Conan reboot). Tell him I hate him.

But if that's true then why hasn't it happened to Harry Potter?

I dunno. I'll think some more as well and post here again.

The C of Fail said...

Having seen bits of the Tim Burtons Batman recently, I have to say it was mediocre at best. And the series went down hill faster than a polished terd on ice afterwards.

I dont think theres any one thing that we can stick the blame on. For R'as and Scarecrow, they didnt really share much screen time.

Russell said...

The Burton films were good for their time (some of them, but that's another blog) but they illustrate my point. It DID go downhill as fast as your turd but it did it with a bunch of supervillains because DC, and possibly the general public, feels that anything beyond the Joker is third rate.

Another thing to consider is politics. Case in point: X-Men. Halle Berry wanted more screen time and thought her character deserved a leading role. Nevermind that she's fail. She used her clout with hollywood to influence the story. The result? Positioning. Cyclops is killed off, Jean Grey is out of the picture, Wolverine's relationship with her is cultivated. All in case the movie does well and they get the green light for a fourth. Which, thank heavens, the haven't received.

Spiderman 3 is a victim of this as well. From what I understand Raimi initially put Venom in under studio pressure. Not out of a love for the character. And look where that got us...

The C of Fail said...

Don’t get me wrong. Burton is great at what he does. Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, etc were great movies, but I think he should of stayed there. But I digress.

I think the clouds are thinning. The horrible third movies, I think, can be blamed on “The Man” and Politics of those that are working on the film, which incorporates my “Too Much Stuff” theory. To many people thinking they know better than those that have already established quality material.

bluefish said...

Kevin Smith once (jokingly) suggested that Tim Burton stole an idea from a comic book Smith wrote to put into one of his movies. Tim Burton took it seriously and replied in the press, "I don't read comic books."

Kevin Smith said, "That would explain your Batman movies."

The C of Fail said...

Ha! Excellent.

bluefish said...

I remembered what else I wanted to add to your theory! The Blade movies. The first one was good, the second one was even better, but the third had too many characters and tried to do too much all at once, so it failed.

And that one had Ryan Reynolds, too.

Russell said...

Ryan Reynolds makes good movies. I even like the one where he was in a fat suit. He was hilarious.

So what about spinoff films? Does the new Wolverine film suffer because of the three X-films before it? Did all of the Cyclops stuff and the CG/hairless cat/Patrick Stewart thing at the end shortchange the film?

bluefish said...

And what did they do to Patrick Stewart to iron out all his wrinkles? He looked like he just stepped out of a wind tunnel.

The Seamons Family said...

Wow that was a bit of a rant but I approve (except using Harry Potter as a support that movies can go above two and still be good, I for one think only the first two are worth the film they are printed on, not because of the story but the ever aging actors.) I have my own theory: if a film is sound it is because it comes from a sound source unlike many comic to movie adaptations. If they took Hush and adapted it for a movie it would have a better chance than a script written for film (i.e. Spider-man 3.) I see many gaping holes for my theory, go ahead, point them out. In the original post pitfalls and bumps were mentioned, I thought I would point out my nomination for the worst: Original new Hulk (Nick Nolte anyone?) Many will say Catwoman or Electra but I haven't even seen them so cannot nominate them for the title of worst comic movie, someone else can have that honor.

Russell said...

If we sat down and had a day of bad comic movies, the title would probably go to the Spirit. I haven't seen it either but you can just smell it, you know?

Source material is important. It's why Dark Knight and Batman Begins worked so well. But sometimes you just have to work with cool ideas because there aren't any good original stories, especially with comics. This gives the film an opportunity to become a good original story on its own, but I think films have a harder time with that because of all the external influences.

But really, any commercially driven medium is going to be influenced by this. Dwayne McDuffie was been talking about and deconstructing his work on "JLA" on the DC Message Boards. It's rare that a creator is so open and honest about the ins and outs of working on such a series. And it's done without malice, accusation or blame, just an acceptance that this is the way things work. It's quite an education.

An example from the above: I've had virtually no input into the composition of JLA. It's DC Comics' flagship book. They tell me who to put on the team, based on their needs elsewhere in the universe, and I do it. I believe I had influence in getting rid of Red Tornado, but even there I was forced to put him back in his body about two years before I had planned to.

Just goes with the job, I think. But the truly good writers, film or otherwise, take what they're given (restrictions and all) and make something beautiful.

Russell said...

Also here's some good news:

I'm hoping David Goyer gives it a crack.

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