Objection! – The Future of Comic Book Movies

Silverwolf: Hello everyone! Silverwolf here with another exciting edition of Objection! Some of you may remember Starshine’s intriguing article concerning the future of comic book movies a few weeks ago (and if you haven’t read it yet, you really should). While I thought she made some great points, I’m here because I think that some of her assessments aren’t entirely accurate, or are just plain wrong. Starshine, would you care to give a brief synopsis of your position on these films?

Starshine: Sure! While I think that comic book films are great, and the fact that they are gaining some serious attention, not just from audiences but also from filmmakers, is fantastic. But my greatest fear is that in the wake of the Avengers is that we will adopt a more comic book style format for movies – ie that we will have contuinity driven mess, alternate universes when the actors get too old, and a lack of original films in the wake of making popular adaptations.

Silverwolf: Fair points, and I guess I’ll address them one by one. Firstly, the issue of continuity. Yes, for years this has been a problem in comics for a few reasons. One of them is multiple writers telling story about the same characters affecting one another within the same universe. With movies, however, I think this is easier to handle as, at the very least, some of the previous crew usually stick around for the next film in a franchise. Another reason comic continuity is a problem is longevity: some of these characters have been in comics for decades and, as a result, it’s very easy to make a mistake since almost no modern writer has the time to go back and read/remember every single story told about a character. Ultimately, I think continuity won’t be a problem is films because the scale is also much smaller: whereas in the Marvel universe a big crossover, like Avengers vs. X-Men, involves at least a dozen comic titles, a film like The Avengers only brings together characters from 4 movie series, and even so it’s simple enough that people who never saw those films could follow it.

Starshine: Actually, in terms of franchises, this isn’t always the case – depends a lot on schedules, contracts, the studio’s faith, how much the previous films made, etc. You are never guaranteed to have even some of the same people on board. Hell, even a series as popular as Saw had changes up in the crew, directors, and writers. Pet Semarty 2 was literally written by the same person who did the first movie and we all know what happened there. I will agree that thankfully continuity in the film world is a lot smaller, but there are plenty of ways they could screw it up.

Silverwolf: True enough, but I ultimately think that, in the interest of appealing to the general public, comic book movies and their creators will try to avoid any unnecessary continuity miring. Now, onto your next initial point: the issue of actor age. Obviously, no one can beat age, which is why we get a new James Bond every decade or so. I have to say, however, that there are quite a few older heroes: pre-reboot Green Arrow, Batman from The Dark Knight Returns, and Magneto spring to mind immediately. It’d also be a great way to finish off a franchise by having a film about the character aging, perhaps making “one last stand” as a hero.

Just maybe not THIS last stand…

Starshine: It could SO LONG as those actors wish to return. Age isn’t just about the actors not looking how they used to, or being “too old” to play certain characters. Sometimes people are just way too tired to come back and do heavy action type roles, unless they throw millions at them until they agree. And while there are older heroes, there are some that don’t age as quick as it takes to make the movies, or what if they become injured in production and they have to recast? People make jokes about Norton not being the Hulk in the Avengers, but this could be more of a problem later on, especially if the actors decide not to be “type-cast.”

Silverwolf: I suppose that’s true, though I have to say with the money these films make it’d be surprising to not see the actors return. Furthermore, reboots usually do well (such as The Amazing Spiderman) so if worse comes to worst the studio will probably just take that route; not saying I like reboots, but it is an option. Anyway, onto your third and final initial point: adaptations. This one’s trickier to deal with. So far, the majority of comic book movies have followed VERY loose interpretations of actual comic storylines. To bring it up yet again, The Avengers was a totally original story, and most of the films leading up to it basically just took the character’s origin and kept it the same but formed a story that was barely taken from printed page. Furthermore, Nolan’s Batman films take cues from the comics, such as Batman: Year One and Knightfall, but these connections are minor at best.

Doing well at the box office and being a good movie, however, are two completely different things

I think it’d be hard to adapt most comic book plotlines, if only because a comic story can “go longer.” For instance, a comic author can make a storyline, such as Death of Superman, continue for over a year, telling a story over at least a dozen comics, and often more. In a movie, this isn’t possible: most people can’t sit through a film beyond two and a half hours, and so the stories would need to be compressed, which may work, but usually doesn’t. It’ll be interesting to see how Days of Future Past is portrayed in the upcoming X-Men First Class 2: obviously, most of the comic plot will need to be redone since many of the main characters can’t or won’t appear in the First Class films. I think that comic movies will adapt some aspects of comic plotlines, but will never do more than borrow a good idea here or there.

….who are we kidding, this is going to be amazing no matter what.

Starshine: The big issue I have with this is not just how well they are adapting a story, but studios will do what makes money. So even if we never see Blackest Night: the Movie, we will still have a panetheon of well known established characters that will have clear reactions to stimuli. Personally, I’m just worried but original characters can be very hit or miss, and I don’t think it would do very well to insert them into these adaptations. I can hear the scream of “Mary Sue” from here. But ultimately, it’s like every year we get remakes, reboots, and adaptations. These are not bad things, but if we’re losing good original scripts and concepts in favor of another Spiderman film, that’s an awful shame in my opinion. Adapting scripts to have Captain American or Iron Man is similarly a problem since you would have to alter all of the dialogue, or risk altering the two characters – one is easily doable, and the other would piss off fans.

Silverwolf: Those are some valid concerns. I will admit that, at the end of the day, most studios just want money and will do what they think will get them big bucks. As much as I love DC, everyone can tell that the main reason Warner Bros. is pushing so hard for a Justice League movie right now is to try and replicate (or top) what was seen in The Avengers earlier this year.

Starshine: I admit I could be wrong about everything and in fact nothing is going to change, but we don’t know that. I’m just saying that we as the audience have to be wary about what we are presented and how. And the Justice League movie is going to be secretly hilarious. Now that Bruce Wayne “Batman” is gone, whose going to play Batman? And there hasn’t been a good Superman film since Christopher Reeves. Warner brothers is all but done for.

Case and point.

Silverwolf: I wouldn’t say they’re done for, WB does make some great stuff and Man of Steel has potential. They also said that the Batman and Superman in the JLA movie will not be the same ones we’ve seen in the Dark Knight Trilogy or the Man of Steel movie.

Starshine: Good to know. Anyways, that’s all I’ve got to this round. Any last thoughts?

Silverwolf: I’ll just say this: whatever filmmakers decide, I hope they do what’s best for the fans whether that’s following comics to the word or making entirely new stories about classic characters.

Starshine: Agreed!

Silverwolf: Anyway, that’s all for today! Check back next time when another two of our writers go head-to-head in OBJECTION!

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One Comment:

  1. :U I personally think it's just kind of a Hollywood thing. Yeah, there's reason to worry about filmmakers only making comic book movies for the "money". But for every studio trying to get on this new comic-bandwagon there will always be a Christopher Nolan or a Josh Whedon to ground it all out, you know? Remember the rash of fantasy films following the wake of The Lord of the Rings? Or all sorts of crazy adaptations of teen lit?
    Sure some studios will fail and we'll groan about their movies and how they "ruin" comics, but I believe there is still room for innovation!

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