Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why Superhero Films Are Failing

Over the holiday weekend, several articles appeared wondering why superhero movies aren’t doing all that well this summer. They’re making money, but they’re experiencing severe drop offs and each film has made less than the prior one, and none of them are on track to approach what superhero films used to make. Any number of explanations have been given, with one glaring exception: plot.

The offered explanations range from ticket price to the current crop of films involving "second tier" superheroes, i.e. superheroes who aren't famous enough to have entered the public consciousness. Forget the ticket price argument though because other films charge the same prices and aren't having similar problems. Forget the "second tier" garbage too. Indeed, does anyone really think the X-Men or Iron Man (both big hits) weren’t second tier before they struck it big at the theater? And nothing is more first tier than Superman or the Incredible Hulk, yet both have struggled -- not to mention Wonder Woman, who can't even get a series off the ground.

Another explanation is over-saturation, i.e. the idea that there have just been too many of these films running back to back and people are getting burned out. But that’s pretty much garbage too. Most summers are packed with identical films starring different actors and yet people keep seeing them -- and look at slasher flicks which consistently make the same amount of money despite being the same film over and over. What’s more, these movies have built in fanboy-bases who will see these films repeatedly until their eyes bleed.

So what's really going on? Hollywood has got its hands on a bad formula.

Hollywood is trying to appeal both to fanboys and the public at large while also setting up the franchise for future films. This is an impossible task as these three things call for mutually exclusive requirements. The fanboys want more depth than the comic books. The public doesn't want a learning curve. And nobody wants to feel like they're watching two hours of "this will pay off 2-3 films down the line."

What's more, the way Hollywood handles this formula is horrible. The first half of these films introduces the hero/heroine and the villain, and usually condenses decades of comic book history into a few minutes of vignettes. This would be like condensing the Lord of the Ring into "a midget tosses a ring into a fire." Even worse, these vignettes are usually heavily clichéd and manipulative to force you to like the hero and dislike the villain. Then the film picks one or two highlights from the series and tries to make a functional plot around those two moments, with the caveat that 90% of this plot must be CGI fighting. In the end, this results in a jumbled, plot-less movie that feels like its main purpose is to give you a thumbnail sketch of a set of comic books.

Think of this in Star Wars terms. Luke Skywalker: Curse of the Jedi Storm Monster's Vengeance would waste the first third of the film with Luke Skywalker bumming around until he discovered Jedi skills, which he would use to amuse the audience. . . “heh heh heh, he can make the droid fly.” Then you would suddenly find yourself in a shallow, angry drama as we meet young Darth Vader, a rich corporate titan who loves to kick puppies. The entire backstory of his life, i.e. the three prequels, would be condensed to about two minutes of whiny exposition. Then suddenly Vader would find plans for a Death Star, would build it, and would decide to hunt down Luke’s sister for no reason whatsoever. This would result in a 40 minute death struggle between Luke and Vader in outer space as Megan Fox does a stripper dance. Roll credits.

Does that sound like anything anyone would want to see? No. Well, this is what you get from the comic book films these days, and that’s the problem. These aren’t films, these are unfunny skit comedy, with key moments from a comic book series mindlessly strung together and cemented in place with heavy doses of cliché glue. You would literally be better off watching an acted-out documentary (i.e. docudrama) about the comic book!

If Hollywood wants to make a successful superhero movie, it needs to abandon this formula and put their hero into an actual story. Sadly, that's beyond Hollywood's powers.


Tennessee Jed said...

I would have a hard time arguing against the logic of anything you have said in this article, Andrew. I suppose it would be worthwhile seeing how drop off in viewers this summer has been compared with say, any other drama.

Like picking the outcome of a trial, it is not always easy to know why something went a certain way. The best we can do is lay out a plausible argument that this or that seems likely to have impacted viewership. Personally, the last one I really liked was Iron Man I, which seemed to be aimed more at adults than the traditional "fanboy" base.

I guess my other thought is to look at what happens first weekend and how much drop off is there. You would think people can still get sucked into a lousy formula movie, but if it is bad enough, there will be no legs.

Unknown said...

Andrew: And wouldn't it be nice if uniquely American superheroes weren't gelded into morons on steroids? I'm still p.o.'d over Superman's boss saying "truth, justice, and all that stuff." Batman was the only one who actually needed explication about how he got to be what he is, which is a dark hero without genuine superpowers. Why waste all the psychodrama about Superman et al when the real fun is that you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy it in the first place? As for the second and third-tier superheroes, who cares about their personal problems--just rip and tear, guys.

I don't want superheroes who are just beefed-up UN General Secretaries. A superhero should be a hero, only super. He shouldn't be someone who needs super-group therapy.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's true. There can be dozens of factors that play into a particular film doing well or poorly compared to others.

In terms of other films, this summer is only slightly off -- something like 5% from prior summers. The superhero movies have been noticeable though because they've underperformed even lowered expectations and each one has been doing worse than the last.

In terms of the first day pop, that's really what they rely on now. They are hoping to make most of their money before people can spread the word about the quality of the films. I think that's a horrible decision because it virtually guarantees the death of the franchise.

That said, they have already green-lit a sequel to Green Lantern even though it was considered a massive bomb. I guess they decided that they can sell anything to anyone?

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, The problem with that view is that it scares the people in Hollywood. They've decided all heroes are complex and messed up personally. And they play this strange game where they need to pretend to be meek and unwilling to fight anyone, but then become vicious killers once they get the moral green light. It's very, very strange -- almost psychotic.

Unknown said...

Andrew: As one wag said, we are "one nation, under therapy." LOL

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Isn't that the sad... sad... sad truth. Give me a non-whiny superhero any day!

And you're right about Superman. Of all the heroes, he's the least conflicted about anything. Only Batman really needs a shrink. Superman is just a genuine patriot and altruist with superpowers. There's no dark underbelly there!

Ed said...

Andrew, I saw both the new "X Men" film and "Green Lantern." "Green Lantern" stunk from start to finish. It was exactly what you describe. "X Men" is a more mature property so it didn't follow this pattern, but it was heavy-handed about gay rights. It was a constant theme and it completely kept taking me out of the movie.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I haven't seen either yet. I liked the Green Lantern as a kid, though I didn't collect comics. But the trailers for the film just leave me cold. It looks like a pointless cartoon.

I've heard the X-Men is about gays, but I haven't seen it yet. I am interested in that one, but I'll wait for video.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Andrew!

I think you nailed the biggest problem.
However, having once been a comic book collecter, I can say I have read some exceptional stories that are far deeper than anything hollywood normally puts out.

It depends on the author, of course.
In my experience there's three types of comic book authors:
1. Gimicky
2. Shallow n' lazy
3. Good to exceptional

Hollywood often follows the first two formulaic examples, except not as well.

I often wonder why studios/producers don't get the authors that have a track record of being good to write the stories (or, at least take one of their good stories and tweak it a bit).

Certainly, a Larry Hama, Mike Baron, Peter David, could write circles around the current crop of writers with well written, deep stories containing genuine humor, and...well, fun.

And for comic noir, everyone is well aware of how well Frank Miller writes through 300 and Sin City (I might add that Larry Hama does noir very well also, in his run on Wolverine in the early issues).

Or look at the success of Mike Mignola with Hellboy (the comic). The movies didn't do very well but not for lack of good writing.
Hell if I know why Hellboy and Hellboy 2 wasn't a huge box office smash but that's the exception it seems.
Maybe the word hell scared too many would be viewers. I dunno.

There's other great comic book writers out there too, but hollywood seems bound and determined to ignore these gold mines of rich stories who understand their characters.

By tryin' to be all things to all people in a very lazy manner they are ruining what coulda been some outstanding and fun flicks.

The best "formula" for good movies (or comic books) is great stories and great character developement. No amount of CGI or other gimmicks can take the place of that.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I was just having a discussion about this the other day with some friends of mine. Personally, I think there's something to be said for the "over-saturation" argument, although not in the way it's often presented. I think part of what's going on is that when this really started about a decade ago, there was more variety in your summer blockbuster movies (more straight-up action movies, more simple romances, more comedies, etc.), so people who weren't really into the superhero thing, paradoxically, were more willing to give it a shot. Take your average family, for example: they'd balance their movie-watching between something for the kids, something for the teens, something for the adults, etc. I think this brought more people in to watch superhero movies who wouldn't have originally.

But now, with every other movie during the summer being something comic-book related, there's much less for those other people, so they're less willing to go to the movies at all. Whereas a fanboy might have dragged his entire family along to watch "Spider-Man," by now he's the only one showing up to watch, say, "Green Lantern." I do think the lack of a good plot is a very important factor as well, don't get me wrong. But that's my take on the saturation thing.

AndrewPrice said...

USS Ben, I couldn't agree more with everything you say.

First, no amount of CGI can save a bad story.

Secondly, by trying to be all things for all people, you always end up being nothing for anyone.

Third, I frankly cannot understand why they don't take the guys who have shown a talent for it already and let them lead these projects. Why do they think some Hollywood hack is better at creating the character/story than the guys who made the comic so popular?

In terms of improving the story, I honestly think the best thing they could do would be to take one of the most popular book/storylines and turn that into the film. Add some minor backstory to introduce the characters as you go (but nothing more than a brief sketch of who they are) and let the story do the talking. This idea of taking bits and pieces and stringing them together into a coherent story is just wrong.

I know why Hollywood does this, but it just makes no sense.

On Hellboy.... I actually think about that film a lot. I should like it a lot more than I do and I can't quite figure out why it seems to flat to me? I love the characters and Ron Pearlman is perfect. The effects are good. The story moves quickly and logically. And yet, somehow, it feels flat so me. I have yet to be able to explain that -- though not for lack of thinking about it.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I actually suspect that each of the explanations has some validity, despite my stridency in the article (for dramatic effect only! ;-)). So do the different characteristics of the films.

And I think your explanation of oversaturation is an excellent one -- and likely has a lot of merit. Coincidentally, that's not how any of the "experts" describe oversaturation, but then they don't really know what they're talking about. They're just repeating conventional wisdom.

I think you're right that people probably were more likely to "humor" a comic book movie when it was just one of a dozen alternatives and they felt they had to give each kid a movie. But with comic book movies being 1/3 of films these days, parents probably no longer think that way. Which is the long way of saying: "good point."

I also suspect that people understand that these will be heavy on the CGI, so a lot of people probably avoid them on that basis too, just as people tend to avoid "adult cartoons."

In the end though, I think if these films were turning out solid stories, more people would be going to see them. I think right now everyone knows that what you get with comic book stories is this mix of plot highlights and CGI, and that doesn't attract most people.

To me, the big irony is like Ben said -- there are great stories already written (and even storyboarded), but Hollywood keeps going back to this same silly formula.

rlaWTX said...

"And wouldn't it be nice if uniquely American superheroes weren't gelded into morons on steroids?"

excellent point and turn of phrase, Lawhawk!!!!!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew, irt Hellboy, and to a lesser extent, Wolverine (the movie), I think that point you made before, about filling in the plot made those movies better to me.

Since I already know the characters and their history I was able to do all the filling in that the movie didn't do, whereas someone not familiar with the characters are more likely to be annoyed at the lack of understandable backstory.

IMO, some of the more complex stories would do well to use a narrater, like the first Conan did.
It didn't distract from the story at all. In fact, it enhanced the story.

Hellboy did use a narration but it was simply too much for most who are unfamiliar with the characters and their history.

Sometimes I think they try too hard to get everything in and they don't have to. The result is often too much clutter.
A bit of mystery is fine as long as the story is good, logical and well paced.

It's a tough balancing act sometimes, but as we've seen it can be done.

Besides, there's much wisdom in the old adage: leave 'em wanting more. :^)

Koshcat said...

Ok, am I the only person here who might put up with a poor plot just to see Megan Fox strip? Transformers 2 spent a significant amount of time filming her running in slow motion...toward the camera...leaning forward...

Where was I?

I agree with you that these films should be so much better. I get the feeling that the problem is that the original comic book writers are really not involved. I am not a collector but have read a few. The stories are complex and sometimes refer to previous editions or other comics to get the whole story. Here is what I think is killing this genera:

1. CGI
2. CGI
3. CGI
4. Poor writing
5. Bad acting

It seems like they use high schoolers to write the plots starting with multiple explosions and multiple Fox boob shots (sorry, tight sweater shots) and then try to squeeze a crappy story in with as many cameos as possible. I like the current batman movies, but as soon as Robin shows up it will die.

We should list our 5 favorites and 5 haters.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX and Lawhawk, Agreed. Muscles don't make you a hero, your actions make you a hero -- maybe Hollywood should take some notes on that?

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, You may be onto something with regard to Hellboy. I had never heard of the character when I first heard of the movie and I never read the comic books. I can't say the film was confusing, but it seemed really busy and kind of shallow -- like they were jamming a lot of unrelated stuff into the story. In fact, I'm honestly not sure even how the ending connects to the rest of it?

It's very, very possible that what they did is exactly what we're talking about (only they hid it better), i.e. they just started picking things out of a whole series of comics and jammed those into one movie to give an overall feel for the character. That then made the movie feel disjointed, cluttered (to use your word) and never let it develop a flow or feel! Hmmm. That could well be my problem with the film! :-)

I have to say, I liked the second film better, which seemed more focused.

And you are absolyutely right about the old adage of leave them wanting more. How often has what we don't see been so much more important than what we do see? Unfortunately, there is little that could be called subtle about the way they make these films -- and that is a mistake.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I can't disagree with your list, that's for sure. I think Hollywood uses CGI as a replacement for plot and acting, which just cripples movies. And to my knowledge, they don't get the comic book writers involved -- they usually hire "professional" script writers who turn out standard atrocities. I don't know why they don't trust the guys who made the comic what it is?

On Megan Fox, I get the feeling a lot of people are willing to pay to see her bounce around in slow motion -- her whole career in fact depends on it, because an actress she is not.

Five favorites and least favorites? Hmm. Tough call. My favorite has to be The Matrix, which was a comic book. I've liked the X-Men franchise too. I enjoyed the new Batman film, though not the one before it. Beyond that it gets hazy. I like the original Superman film from the 1970s.

The films I liked the least had to be any of goofy violent chick stuff -- Ultraviole(n)t and Aeon Flux. And Spiderman and the Hulk films bored me to tears.

Koshcat said...

I generally agree with your favorites. A criteria for favorite I have is how re-watchable the movie is. I liked the Watchman, but it was slow enough I really am not interested in watching again. Also, some movies can be saved by the performance of one person. The original Tim Burton Batman is fair, but Jack makes it rewatchable.

Favorites (no order):
1. Superman II with Reeves
2. Spiderman the first
3. X-man the first
4. The recent two Batman
5. Kickass

1. Transformers - both
2. Hulk
3. Batman 2, 3, 4...
4. Xman 3
actually there are too many to decide on a fifth.

It's funny, but the ones I hate, I loved watching the TV seriers especially the Hulk, Xman, and Transformer. The Hulk was just so sad. Dr. Banner was all alone. In the Xman, they were often fighting someone truly threatening the world rather than fight politicians. Also, The Pheonix was far better developed. In the movie, she just sort of stood there giving us the silent treatment. I can get that from my daughter for free. In Transformer, they may spend several episodes developing a character and his relationships, whereas in the movie spent only 20 minutes.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I definitely agree about the CGI. I think that had something to do with why "Green Lantern" was reportedly so bad; it looked like about 90% CGI in the previews. It was too obviously fake; reminds me of the Star Wars prequels, where there was hardly a non-CGI scene in the--oh God, you don't think Lucas is going to get any ideas from your "reimagining" of Star Wars in the post, do you?! Quick, get rid of it!

AndrewPrice said...

Don't worry T_Rav, Lucas doesn't take ideas from other people -- he's a genius and he doesn't need help.

T-Rav said... top five and bottom five...

Okay, top five would have to be:

1. The Dark Knight (freaking awesome)
2. Batman Begins
3. Are we including The Matrix? Okay, then, The Matrix
4. Spider-Man 2
5. X-Men 2

Limiting my bottom list to five is going to be impossible, but here goes:

1. Spider-Man 3
2. Fantastic Four 2
3. Fantastic Four
4. The Hulk
5. X-Men 3

I should point out that these are out of the ones I've seen; I've never seen any of the Transformers movies or any of the Superman movies, so take that into account. But Spider-Man 3 will always be my least favorite superhero movie ever.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, I thought the first Transformers film was pretty awful and the second was unwatchable. In fact, I never finished it.

I agree about the Watchmen, it had interesting potential and was a very unique superhero film, which I should have liked more -- but I just have no desire to see it again.

X-Men 3 was pretty lame. I did like 1 and 2 though. And yeah, Superman 2 was really good. I agree about Jack in Batman as well -- he makes that film re-watchable.

I like Kickass a lot. That one has a lot of heart and is really funny.

I used to watch all the TV series as a kid -- even the Batman series, which was one of my favorite despite the high campiness factor!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The Fantastic 4 films were pretty disappointing without a doubt. I never saw Spiderman 3 because I didn't like the first two.

A comic book movie I actually enjoyed a great deal and wasn't expecting to like was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That one was both clever and a good time.

On Transformers, if you want the same experience, spin around really, really fast until you blank out. That's about the experience.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I liked the first two, but Spider-Man 3 was one of the very few movies I've seen where I left the theater thinking it was okay and then feeling increasingly disgusted the more I thought about it afterwards. There are so many bad points, but to see Tobey Maguire doing pelvic thrusts in the middle of the

LXG is an alright movie. I thought the plot was a little paint-by-numbers, and the Jekyll/Hyde transformation was really lacking, but yeah, I'll watch it whenever it's on TV.

Okay, so here's a question I once raised at BH and might as well bring up here: Which one is worse? "Batman Forever" or "Batman and Robin"?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good call on League, Andrew!

My top 5:
1. Batman Dark Knight
2. Men In Black
3. X-Men 2
4. Iron Man
5. Hellboy 2

Special shout out to Spiderman 2.
Particularly the part where the people Spiderman was defending risked their lives to try to save Spiderman.

And one of my favs, Howard The Duck, but he wasn't a superhero, per se. Still hilarious, though.

Bottom five:
1. Daredevil (horrid adaptation)
2. Hulk (first one with Eric Bana)
3. Spiderman 3
4. Fantastic 4 (it's like they purposely sabotaged this one)
5. The Punisher War Zone (the one prior to this was actually watchable)

okay, I confess, I liked the first Transformers (ducks). But I really hate those dizzying cutscenes (more of a problem in the second than the first).

And yeah, the cartoons were better, storywise, as was the
The Batman cartoons were pretty good too.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Egads! I reckon Batman and Robin but both I really wish I can unsee both.

I do think the Ahnold played a good Mr. Freeze. I found myself rooting for him to kill that version of Batman, lol.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Don't get me wrong, I don't claim LXG to be a work of art, but I enjoyed it -- at least until the ending fight scene, which was as usually too long and too fake. Yeah, Hyde was kind of silly.

I know what you mean about leaving a theater thinking I liked something and then it getting worse and worse the more I think about it. That usually happens with "event" films, where I'm really looking forward to something. Once the coolness of it finally arriving wears off, then I start to realize I've been had.

On your Batman question, I choose Batman and Robin as the worst because Freeze was a total waste of film, Robin was a whiny little b..., Uma Thurman can't act, and the film just stunk. I preferred Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones. Not by much, but by enough.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Men in Black, I forgot about that being a comic book. Good call! I enjoyed that a lot.

I had a hard time caring about The Punisher Warzone. There just wasn't much to it.

I agree completely about unwatching the Batman films. I'm glad they stopped making those.

Anonymous said...

^Batman and Robin is worse! Truth be told, neither film is very good but I still kinda like Batman Forever. Dare I say it, Batman and Robin has one great thing going for it and that's Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze (IMHO). Yeah, he's a total ham but, with another group of filmmakers (like Chris Nolan), it could've been something special.

I also agree that part of what's wrong with superhero films is oversaturation. There was once a time when these films were special events and now, if you miss one, there'll be another one on 5000 screens in a week. Like any other cycle, it'll die down. After Tim Burton's Batman was released, there was a glut of superhero/comic movies, some good, some bad. I'm talking about movies like Dick Tracy, The Shadow, The Phantom, Darkman, etc. And then it died down and now, post-Spiderman, Hollywood hasn't stopped.

As you said, it also doesn't help that most superhero films seem to follow the same pattern, as if Final Draft came with a "superhero film template."

On another note, I just showed a couple friends of mine my 2nd favorite Kubrick film: Barry Lyndon. Afterwards, I thought to myself, "Wow, it's the story of Anakin Skywalker! A charming fighter of a guy undone by his own jealousy and insecurity." If only George had simply used this film (or the Thackeray novel) as a template for the prequels.

T-Rav said...

Actually, now that I think of it, I should have substituted Iron Man for X-Men 2. I liked that one better.

I agree, it's a tough call. But I think Batman Forever was worse. They're both pretty bad, but I a) couldn't stomach Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, b) couldn't stand Nicole Kidman as the "love interest" (and I use that term loosely), and c) hated the dialogue. Batman and Robin was pretty horrible too, but that one--that one just takes the cake.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Let's just say that I would not be surprised at all if one day, some Hollywood studio announced that they had never actually employed human writers to make a superhero film as they had a computer plug details into a template.

On The Phantom the SciFi channel tried to revive that recently. It has promise as a property, but boy did they suck the life out of it. This film was 100% set up for future films (or a series) which never came.

On Lucas, almost anything would have been a better idea for Vader's story. I personally thought Lucas should have stolen the Harry Potter idea and made it SciFi.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, You really are asking us to pick between two celluloid turds. LOL!

Tennessee Jed said...

Random blatherings after midnight:

Scott - Barry Lyndon was, in fact, awesome. I'm not sure about the Annekin Skywalker connection, but then again, why not?

I appreciate Kosh's sentiments vis a vis Meagan Fox stripping, but I'm enough of an old man now to say that she is such an ass, that I can easily live without it, or her. Has there ever been an actress who has more embodied the "it's all about me philosophy?" Oh wait, Lady Gwyneth was in Iron Man.

Andrew . . . interesting comment about the extraordinary league. Can't really put my finger on it, but I struggled with that one, even though I liked the idea.

I am so old school that I still like George Reeves and Noel Neill.

For me, The Dark Knight was quite good as was Sin City.

I must say I loved the Phantom movie with Billy Zane and Caterine Zeta-Jones. I looked at it as a good old fashion summer pop corn movie. I felt what made it work for me was that it never tried to be pretentious, and anything other than what it was; mindless super hero fun. Now I must admit, that it was my favorite old fashion comic strip along with Prince Valiant, so there is some bias. Maybe that is another inherent flaw. The films keep trying to top each other by throwing in more CGI and social relevance at the expense of plot and what these movies should be {sic} good old fashion apolitical fun.

The Spiderman series went one movie too far.

I probably am a little guilty of liking Downey, Jr. too much because he is a conservative. Still, I thought his portrayal of Iron Man was very very good, and he is one of the better actors around today among the leading men guys.

As an old guy, I could dig a Justice League America flic. Anyone too young to remember, that was Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash and probably a couple others.

Koshcat said...

One last comment, I accidentally caught a new justice league cartoon. Aqua man was a depressed, whiny bitch who was upset he didn't save some whales or something. All this while th world was about to end and superman trying to cheer him up. I half expected to see superman giving him an oil massage while Sheryl Crowe played in the background. I had to swallow my own vomit and turn it off before my children were harmed beyond help.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I only learned that Downey is a conservative the other day -- and that does make me like him more! :-)

In terms of the Billy Zane Phantom film, I liked it too for the same reason -- it had a real 1930s Hollywood film feel to it. The one I was talking about, the one that really stank, was a recent (2009?) SciFi channel attempt. They were going to use this to start a series, but the money was awful because all it did was set things up for future episodes.

On Megan Fox, in truth, she's a little too plastic for me -- plus all the political/personal baggage.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I haven't seen that but it sounds terrible. And thanks indeed for the thought of Superman oiling up Aquaman. Now that is a horrific thought. Blech.

In terms of recent cartoons, I do like the Batman cartoon, which I think started in 2005. I'm not sure it's still running though. It's on Boomerang sometimes. I did not like the Green Lantern cartoon they just did -- very dull. BUT, I did like the two Hellboy cartoon films they did. I thought those were quite good.

I don't know that any of these are really good for kids, but I liked them.

T-Rav said...

I'd just like to throw this out--has there ever been anything on SciFi that didn't suck? I mean, really. Also, to be honest, I never really cared for Megan Fox. And it's not even her political views; something about her physique is just off-putting. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

On Robert Downey, Jr., I believe (and I could be wrong here), it was his time in jail that got him to see the light, so to speak. I really like him, though. I thought he was really good in Back to School and I loved him in Iron Man.


AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, She's plastic, that's the problem. No part of her is real. Plus, she comes across as less than rock stupid and yet highly opinionated -- a deadly combination of awful.

On SciFi, there isn't much. I do have to give them credit for Battlestar Gallactica -- which eventually became quite good, and I was glad they picked up the Stargate series. But your point is well taken -- there is very little good there.

AndrewPrice said...

TJ, As I mention above, I had no idea he was a conservative until recently -- when I saw that his son is interning for Eric Cantor.

If jail made him a conservative, then maybe we should lock up all liberals for a bit? Just sayin'... ;-)

Seriously though, I've always liked him as an actor and his being conservative only strengthens my good feelings.

rlaWTX said...

Ok - I am way behind...

Iron Man - awesome; #2 - good enough
Batman Begins - I thought it was awesome until Dark Knight and realized that DK was awesome!!! and BB was just 'great'.
Old Batman: the 1st one w/ Keaton was good, 2nd w/ Catwoman (good) & Penguin (YICK) was mixed. Forget the rest.
Matrix - 1st one good, I'm sure I saw the other 2 but can't tell what was in which - so, meh.
Watchmen - I liked it. Don't know that I'd rewatch it.
Original Superman and the Zod one - liked them, rewatch 'em. Pryor - not so much. Haven't seen anything newer (looked on IMDB to be sure - I don't remember 4 at all!)
Spidey - saw the 1st one - meh.
I enjoyed Transformers 2 (lots of explosions, cute soldier) despite Shia and Megan. Haven't seen the 1st. Plan to see the 3rd for fun.
Tried Hellboy, didn't get it.
F4 - tried both - not so much (rooting for the bad guy is wrong, right?)
didn't see Hulk (watched the TV show) or Daredevil or some of the others.

saturation of the market (as described by T-Rav), overdone CGI, and "who cares" characterization are my nominees for the downfall...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I think Koshkat should be banned from using the words "Superman" "Oil massage" and "Aquaman" in the same sentence henceforth and posthaste!

And I think DC should be banned from trying to make Aquaman an undersea version of a neurotic Spiderman without the humor.

Aquaman is not a teenager, therefor he does not have tenn angst. If DC doesn't understand this they shgould just kill Aquaman off. At this point I don't believe anyone would notice or care.

Sheesh. The depressed, whiney, teen angst gimmick has gotta be one of the most cliched and idiotic gimmicks evah!

I'm sure, as we speak Aquaman comics are flying (swimming?) off the shelves.
How do these morons stay in business? Oh, that's right, they keep downsizing and blaming the internet like the major leftist newsrags.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Don't worry -- there's no such thing as late with the film articles. So feel free to comment anytime something strikes you. :-)

On the Matrix, the first one was great.... and the second two did their best to ruin the whole thing. It's unfortunate and I kind of wish I could unwatch them -- especially the third.

I agree about the Penguin in the Batman films -- blech. Overall, I think DK was the best of all the films.

In terms of the problem, I think we're starting to see a pattern, which is exactly what you've described: oversaturation, CGI and poor characterization.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, LOL! I think we should all agree never to use those words in the same sentence again! :-)

On Aquaman, I'm assuming he's still around, but you sure don't hear much about him anymore. I actually find that ironic because you would think that if any superhero would be good at capturing the environmentalist reader, it would be a guy who can talk to dolphins and whales. Maybe leftists just don't read comic books or maybe he's just not hardcore enough?

I haven't read the comic, so I don't know if they've tried to go that route or not?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Actually, Andrew I think that's the reason (the environmental preaching) Aquaman isn't selling.

You'd think that there would be enough lefties to keep the comic afloat but Err (Air) America failed for the same reason.

Seems folks of all political stripes simply hate to be preached to when the preachers are:

1. Not funny in any way whatsoever
2. Not interesting in any way whatsoever.

Leftists never seem to be capable of grokking simple stuff like this so they continue to try the same tactics over and over.

I'm not psychic but I'm sensing a pattern here.

The last time I read anything about Aquaman (and that's only because I bot a Flash comic that Aquaman happened to be in) he had lost a hand and they were trying to make him edgy and Wolverineish or Batmanish...or something.

Oh, and he had some kind of gold, sharp thing where his hand used to be.
I'm guessing to make him look even edgier, in case you missed every other time the writer tried to make Aquaman out to be a Dirty (slimy?) Harry underwater.

But the thing is, Aquaman has always been a second tier superhero (and a one trick, seapony) and always will be (unless they take my advice and kill him off).

BTW, if Aquaman is so concerned about the dolphins and whales, why does he have them fight super villains?
What? A supervillain that can hurt Superman can't kill a few dolphins and whales and swordfish?
They would be chicken of the sea in no time (with real mayo, please).

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, It wouldn't surprise me if they had made him into an Eco-hero, but like I said, I haven't read it so I'm just guessing.

I think you're right about leftists not supporting him though. The left isn't very good at entertainment and they certainly are hypocrites about their beliefs versus their preferred entertainment -- hence the number of anti-gun leftists who love movies about guys with guns.

I think you're right that Aquaman is a second tier guy and ultimately pretty hopeless. He made a lot of sense back when people figured we would be living on the moon or in sea colonies by now, but he doesn't make a lot of sense for modern society.

And you're absolutely right about the dolphins and whales. (1) How can someone who can beat Superman get stopped by a couple dolphins? And (2) Aquaman clearly doesn't care about them because he's using them as weapons... exploiting them, dare I say! LOL!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Good points! DC could get the very best writers in the business and reboot Aquaman for the upteenth time (and I think they have) and it still wouldn't sell.

For one, they already made this second tier character toxic so even if they found a writer that cdould make him interesting it's too late, IMO.

As a kid watching Superfriends I got bored with Aquaman, and they couldn't fool me. I know they kept using the same footage of all the whales n' stuff coming to the rescue everytime.

I wanted to see the Flash, Supes, Batman and, of course, Wonder Woman!

Say, maybe if they give Aquaman breasts, massage oil and a sponge, and have him wash the
I blame Koshcat, Paris Hilton and Hardees for this uncomfortable thought. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, You are treading close to some very dangerous imagery! LOL!

Yeah, I'm not sure they can save Aquaman at this point. His whole concept is just too limited. And I agree about getting bored with him. It was always obvious he was going off to the danger-free area while the rest were going out to face the bad guy. Seriously, how many villains choose to come by ocean? And if he ever was called upon to help, it was the same footage -- over and over. A one trick seapony indeed! LOL!

rlaWTX said...

where in Matrix was the red/blue pill thing? I hear-read people referencing it, but I forgot it happened.

And Ben is punny!

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, The red blue pill thing is in the first film, maybe 20 minutes in, when Neo meets Morpheus for the first time. He offers him either a red or blue pill. When he takes the red one, this silvery stuff covers him and he wakes up in the real world -- rather than in the Matrix world.

Anonymous said...

Man, this thread grew since I last checked in!

I know next to nothing about Aquaman but Entourage used it as a season-long arc with Vincent Chase playing the character (his first big blockbuster role). One episode had him and the gang going to Comic-Con. The film was "directed" by James Cameron who played himself. They even created a poster and trade ad.

They just can't seem to crack this one (or Wonder Woman for that matter).

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yep, you snooze, you lose! :-)

I can see why Aquaman will be a hard sell. There just isn't anything that pulls us to the ocean in a way that makes Aquaman relevant.

Wonder Woman should work quite well, except they need to make up their mind if they want her to be "1950s pure" or if they want her to be a modern "kick-ass chick" heroine. The problem with making her kick-ass though is that she won't be anything special in an already crowded and generic field.

If I were going to make a Wonder Woman movie, I would probably aim for the young female teen market and I would make her a Miley Cyrus knock-off. As twisted as that sounds, that would be their best bet to distinguish her.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I posted a belated reply in the Gettysburg thread. I think the spam filter got to it.

AndrewPrice said...

I got it Scott, it's been freed! :-)

Good question, by the way -- we should write that one down for the debating series.

CrispyRice said...

Is it wrong to admit that my favorite Batman movie is the Adam West one??

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb."

Talk about life lessons! =D

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, That's my favorite too. And the best quote from the film! :-)

Outlaw 13 said...

Given the success of Captain America (which I thought was awesome by the way), do you need to re-evaluate your thesis?

Sorry about the lateness of this comment by the way...

Iron Man
The Dark Night
Sin City
Kick Ass

Bottom Five
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Tansformers 2
Green Lantern
X Men 2

Someone mentioned, The Shadow, The Phantom and's funny I enjoyed all of those. It seemed to me that they never tried to be anything otehr than what they were, they weren't bombastic pieces of pretentious crap. They told a story and that was that...which more than a few times is all people are looking for.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw 13,

No problem on the lateness. Sorry about the comment moderation -- I do that for articles older than 7 days so I know when people comment.

On the thesis, I haven't seen Captain America yet, so I'm not sure what they did story-wise.

I tend to think the overall problem with these films is story-based rather than saturation based and since I've heard (but can't confirm) many people say it was a great World War II story, I would think that would confirm my suspicions that the problem for these films tends to be a story-issue.

Of course, if what I've heard is wrong and the story on this one is just like the others, then that would be a reason to rethink the thesis. I just can't say at this point as I haven't seen it yet.

But I am thrilled by its success.

As for Darkman, The Shadow, and the Phantom, I liked those as well. They weren't earth shattering films, but they were fun and enjoyable, which really is all they need to be.

PikeBishop said...

So is it time to revisit this topic about Super hero movies doing poorly yet? ;-)

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