Superhero Film Overload: Problems/Solutions

Earlier this week, I watched Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I had to watch it. as critics and fans are divided as to whether the film is good or not, I needed to put my mind at rest to find out what about the movie was so bad, or so good. I will not review the film, as I understand both sides of the argument.

While the movie has a lot of flaws when it comes to editing and directing, there is one thing nobody can argue with. Marvel started it’s universe by introducing us to it’s characters, and through years, slowly making it grow like a plant, which branches spreading out from the root. The new DC film universe however, started in a very different way… much more like a universe in it’s own respect. With a huge, epic, big bang.

(SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY)  From the beginning it seems like their films will be more intertwined with each other from the beginning. With only about 5 hours of DC universe (Adding up both movies), we already know of the world underwater, where Aquaman lives, the world of the amazons, which Wonder Woman came from, the life in space with Kryptonians and Darkseid already hinted at, without even getting to the world of the Green Lanterns yet. We already have an expanding array of bad guys, from Joker to Lex Luthor, to Doomsday. If you’re thinking “Wow, that’s pretty huge,” what really should hit you hard about this film is that you’re not only being introduced to this. The flash, through a series dream sequences, introduces us to his time travel, which in turn, introduces us to the the huge multiverse of the DC universe. That’s when you, the viewer, should realize you’re not being introduced to just the next standalone movies, but films in different universes with different timelines and events… perhaps all running at the same time. I think BvS is the type of movie that if you don’t like now, You’ll end up loving when you go back to it, once the pieces start connecting with other films.

When I left the theater, however, one question lingered in my mind. And it wasn’t a question which had to do with the universe but with comic book films as a whole, which are now predicted to be coming by groups of as many as 7 a year. My question was…

How long before they start running into problems?

In this post, I will be running through some of the problems that Comic book films AND fans will have to deal with in the near future, or are already dealing with now. Questions that lingered in my head. With the Marvel Universe nearing the end of it’s third phase and DC introducing a huge universe, FOX rebooting it’s X-Men films, TV Series running side to side and intertwining, and Sony doing whatever the hell it’s doing… This is my take on 3 things I think will happen, and could be happening already behind the curtains as of right now, in this huge movement the superhero genre is going through.

For example, one that is happening right now…

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1.For how long can Actors go?

With Hugh Jackman already announcing his retirement as wolverine, and Robert Downey Jr. hinting at the fact that there will not be an Iron Man 4  it seems like Marvel and FOX will have to soon be recasting major characters already. These are two great actors, and despite them being changed, the franchises can probably go on doing very well. However, how long before the rest of the cast wants to move on with their acting career? With big actors like Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennifer Lawrence in these films,  and how long can production keep dishing out money before the actors/actresses lose interest in their roles regardless of payment? This is a problem I suspect Marvel specially will be running into very soon if they’re not already there.

I feel as though the biggest problem is not losing the actors that are small like Scarlett Johansson, but losing someone like Robert Downey Jr. would be a hit to the franchise regardless. So how can you replace him, and ensure that whoever replaces him is willing to stay with the company and make as many films as possible before leaving, still drawing people to watch the films?

Hiring an unknown:

This might sound weird, but I think hiring an unknown is the safest way to go. Low pay, and an actor/actress that needs work would probably be proud to stay if the role fits them. Think Mark Hamill in Star Wars. You can try out for one scene, test him/her out and if the character is good enough and the acting is good enough, fans will come. However, this works with the intro of a character. I don’t think it works as much with replacing a big name… so how can you replace the huge actor with a small one?

You can keep it in the story.

Say, for example, Robert Downey Jr. agrees to do one last movie, and says “I’m done after this.” How can you keep the story going with a new Iron Man? In the last film, cast a new (unknown as) Iron Man and have him share scenes with the old Iron Man… Maybe have the character pass the lantern to the new generations Iron Man. This might work specially if you want to keep an actor around for as long as you can. This is something that comic book fans might not be fond of, but realistically speaking, it has to be done one way or another. Otherwise your only choice is to:

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James Bond it.

This is actually something that worked out for DC this time around. They didn’t re-introduce Batman’s character all over again. Instead, they hired a new big name actor, and threw him into the role as you would a new James Bond. It’s a great move, but casting can get very tricky with this, as the new actor has to have the right chemistry with the people sticking around in the next film and it’ll probably feel more awkward then working it in the story.

The one thing that I would hate to see is a character being re-introduced. Imagine the characters we’ve seen being developed over an entire franchise just go back to square one all over again. This is something that a lot of fans don’t want to see done with the new Spider-man which is being introduced in Civil War. Let’s hope it doesn’t even have to come to that.

Now that we’re through that:
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How much more crowded can it get?

When I first saw the trailer of Captain America: Civil War, I thought it sucked… Because the epic war of superheroes in the graphic novel had been reduced to a skirmish. However, after watching the second trailer and giving it some logical thought, I thought, even with only about 10 to 15 characters, how would distribute the camera time? And at that point, would it even feel like anyone is getting enough screen time? If you’re having a hard time thinking about this already, think for a second about how big Infinity War looks. I hope they have some serious plans as to screen time and how to divide it. I say this because undoubtedly a good amount of people are going to the theater, thinking to themselves “I wonder how much of my favorite character will I see?” So how do you devide screen time among a bunch of huge stars who you’ve developed over time?

You can split them up:

Civil War already has this down. Splitting up the team into ensemble scenes seems the logical way to go. Don’t expect many monologues or single dialogues between any two people other then Iron Man and Captain America. This still doesn’t answer how they’re going to pull off something as huge as Infinity War, with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor characters, and I assume the new characters introduced going into the mix. This is a problem I haven’t figured out myself. The only thing I can come up with is making each film long enough to give everyone their time… and you still might not satisfy everyone. Or you could…

Steal screen time from Solo films:

The next Guardians of the Galaxy can have Thanos already building his plot… this way, you go into Infinity War with a full threat, ready to fight. Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and another Thor movie can make their own parts of the story known, while already adding to the plot of Infinity War before the film even comes. This way you can make those characters minor in the other films without any complaints. Batman V. Superman tried that with dream sequences, Wonder Woman’s story, and other subplots sprinkled in…but it didn’t go over so well with critics because these plots only served to confuse people being introduced to the material, and they didn’t understand what was happening. Maybe with better editing, it can work in their favor in the end.

And finally, the biggest problem….

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For how long can we be entertained?

Look at the picture above. Most people will say they don’t know what they will be doing and where they will be in 5 years. Comic book films say, I’ll tell you what you’ll be doing…you’ll be watching comic book films.

Well, will you?

I’ll be honest. Next year, 7 superhero films are coming out, and I doubt I will watch them all… I can hardly keep up as it is, and even though I love the story and how it ties in, I’m honestly starting to have a hard time keeping up and am at the point where I watch one new film once, and just wait for the next one. With an expansion that seems nowhere near an end, as comic book characters are great in supply, how many new characters can you introduce before you get to the silly characters… I’m looking at you, Animal man…

I know what you’re saying right now if you’re a comic book fan… These movies will not go bland, right? Well, I have bad news for you. It’s inevitable. The western, the gangster film, the drama, the musical, and the detective film all had their golden era. Then it was gone. Why? because, repetition is not popular, and whether a film makes money or not is entirely based on how popular it is. After Infinity War is finished… after Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t want to play Iron Man anymore, some people will stop watching…Then after the entire main cast has to be changed for the same reason, or because of age… How many people will stay through for the next film? After a couple of bad movies (Believe me, they will happen) how many people will look at a trailer and still say “yeah, I’ll go watch the new comic book film”? Enough for them to be making 800 million at box office? I highly doubt it. It might not be coming anytime soon, but it will come. So how do they try to keep their films fresh and keep that inevitable day away?

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Make room for style:

This is the only answer I can think of. Gangster films died, until Coppola and De Palma came along, directing gangster films in their style. Sergio Leone did the same to the western. Quentin Tarantino did the same to the exploitation film. George Lucas did the same to Sci-Fi. If film history has proven one thing is that caging creativity is riskier then letting it lose.

James Gunn showed us with his Guardians of the Galaxy… directing makes a difference… But how many directors will stick around with a strict production company that tries to keep every film in the same tone, style, and form?

David Ayer wrote and directed Suicide Squad, and it seems Ben Affleck is to write and direct his own Batman film soon. I hope that Warner Bros. continues on making these risky moves which have gotten them such mixed reviews as of late. David Ayer and Ben Affleck have directed completely different styles of film up until now. If Warner Bros let’s directors do their thing, in their way, I’m sure the films will stay fresh.Otherwise, even the directors will want to bail from projects due to “creative differences.” If Marvel and DC  keep limiting directors, after a certain amount of films, the style which is chosen becomes repetitive and makes the genre die out. Hopefully one day we’ll see a change in tone from production companies, and the tone and style of a film will change depending on the writers and directors, just like the comics change depending on who’s working on them.

At that point, we might see a “fun” DC film, or a Marvel film with a dark tone for a change.

Otherwise… They’re gonna be done faster then expected.Perhaps as early as right after phase 3.

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THANKS FOR READING!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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