Monday, May 6, 2013

Why you should be careful before you throw a gauntlet

I've seen a lot of people talking recently about the alleged thrown gauntlet of a quote from Zach Snyder in a recent interview. In talking about the upcoming Superman movie and after being asked how he can bring something new to the table with Marvel not only dominating the movieverse for superheroes but also pushing out so many in recent years, he took an expected pre-season arm-flexing position.

"It’s Superman. If you get it right he’s kind of transcendent. The Superman shield is the second most recognizable symbol on planet Earth other than the Christian cross. If you get it right, that’s the question you’ll be asking everyone else. That should be the question you’re asking Iron Man and Thor. How is it that you feel you can be making a superhero movie in a world where Superman and Batman exist?" - Copied here from Nerdreactor, originally coming from an SFX interview.

I can't get too upset about this, because to me, this is like the coach of, say, the Jets saying preseason that they're going to win the Superbowl. It's something they say because there's a certain rivalry among teams in their world (comic books, NFL, etc.)

But that second half has gotten a lot of people up in arms, and while I'm not one of them, I also can't blame them. Textually, either he seems to be saying that the existence of Superman and Batman should make other superheroes unneeded in-world, or that the existence of Superman and Batman by themselves are just SO amazing that there's literally no need for any other superheroes in popular culture.

The first option is silly because everyone knows and accepts that the world where there's Batman or Superman is different from one where Iron Man and Captain America exist. But I think it's the second possible reading that's even sillier.

Let's say you buy his premise that Batman and Superman are somehow transcendent. That they are objectively just better than anything Marvel can put out. I don't, but okay. So at one end you have the ultimate boy scout, and at the other, you have a charismatic and smart but on some level unhinged man. Are you trying to tell me there are no stories that cannot be told with one of those two?

With that out of the way, let's get to an answer for that. How do Marvel they feel they can be making a superhero movie in a world where Batman and superman exist? Easy. By looking at the box office returns.

If anything, it's DC who should be embarrassed. They have a stable of highly iconic characters who are front-and-center in the minds of the target demographic thanks to a series of utterly brilliant animated series. That they got beat to the team-up movie is a well-rehashed failing, but the failings go deeper than that.

A guy from Superman calling out Iron Man and Thor? Look at that on a cultural scale and you'll realize pretty quickly that the Superman side was punching low. Iron Man? Thor? They weren't the top properties Marvel has in the stable. That honor probably belongs to either Spider-Man or Wolverine (I wouldn't care to say which one was bigger). Hulk is definitely up there ahead of them, and I'd guess the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties as well. People outside comics might have known of Thor and Iron Man before the movies, but I suspect not as many actually *knew* the characters.

And they pulled it off. they sold it BIG time. And meanwhile, Superman? The last time it was in theaters it went up against the not-terribly-good X-Men 3, and *lost* at the box office. So that claim to iconic awesomeness and claiming victory some cultural awareness dick-waving contest? Utterly pointless and useless. The more important part came earlier in his quote.

"If you get it right."

And there you have it. Make a good movie. Make a good Superman movie. As someone who doesn't even care much for Superman as a character, I say *PLEASE* make a good Superman movie. I *want* to be excited about seeing a Superman movie. I was actually pretty excited about this one until this quote came along, making me giggle quietly to myself whenever the movie is mentioned.

And if you want to pull out a "what makes you think" argument (and here I refer not to the director, but to the fanboys coming out in his defense), I've got one for you. What makes you think you have any place to criticize what Marvel is doing, when anything without a bat logo on it seems utterly baffling to movie makers?

If you're going to crusade out for the greatness of DC and the failings of Marvel and put your foot then into the movie arguments, how are you not deeply embarrassed that we got a solid Thor movie before we got anything other than the (good but not as good as most of them) animated Wonder Woman movie? How can you even pretend to any superiority after the utter debacle that was Green Lantern? Green Lantern, a property whose origin movie should have written itself.

Well, I have my fingers crossed that we get a good Superman movie. I don't find boy scouts terribly interesting, but the choice of antagonist actually made me pretty interested in this one, and while the quote makes me kind of laugh now whenever I think about this movie, I still suspect I'll be seeing it in theaters. That's an improvement over the last one, whose ads and buzz made absolutely no impact on me and which I felt sort of cheated by after paying to rent it. It's definitely an improvement over Green Lantern, where I went in expecting not to like Hal but to enjoy the movie and left so overwhelmed by bad that my disinterest in Hal himself completely fell off the board of reasons I couldn't enjoy the movie.

I am looking forward to it :)

No comments:

Post a Comment