Sunday, 12 June 2011

Superheroes must die!

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe it’s just because I never liked comics. But is it me or are there just way too many superhero movies these days?

I confess I’ve never read comics. I read books or I watch films. Reading with pictures just ain’t the same as it was when I was a kid. I tried. I read one graphic novel, generally considered a classic… ‘Watchmen’ and guess what… I much preferred the film! The ‘novel’ was long, complicated and for me, just not very engaging.

So what blockbusters have we got to look forward to this summer? Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Captain America: The First Avenger. All superhero flavoured, comic book madness. Give me Transformers 3 over this lot anytime.

The thing is I too get excited by all the hype surrounding these films. I read the features in the magazines, I gawp at the trailers and I even go and see a fair few of them expecting to get my mind blown and face melted.
Unfortunately time and again I’m disappointed. I blame X-men. Like so many others back in 2000, I went along to see it at the cinema because the critics were raving. Bryan Singer was directing. He made ‘The Usual Suspects’. Surely it would be good. But I felt nothing. The action and big climax were too filled with ridiculous looking special effects. The costumes were kind of cool and the cast were top quality but the film was totally unmemorable (to me). It goes in my eyes and gets crapped straight back out, barely registering on my brain.

As a kid I’d enjoyed Tim Burton’s Batman films and the Superman series but I think even then I preferred the Batman TV show with Adam West. This brings me to an exception. The Christopher Nolan Batman films have registered on my brain. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Bruce Wayne throw his wallet away to discover what it was like to have nothing. I loved Heath Ledger as the Joker and truly believe that even if he hadn’t died people would still be banging on about that performance. Great films… great director. Real adult themes and a distinct lack of ridiculous looking special effects.

There’s too damn many for me to go through all the comic book movies of the last ten years. Some critics have argued that we (mainly America) needed these fantastical heroes to save us from a post-9/11 depression. Most people just see these movies making bags full of money for greedy studios who can’t believe their luck! Stories that have already been written. The visuals storyboarded. Characters already created and fans already waiting. Fantastical super powers that can now be created with CGI. Easy money!

Don’t get me wrong… some of these characters are interesting. Iron Man and Hellboy were particularly enjoyable due to their funny and likeable main characters. Kick-Ass and Super give us hip new spins on the superhero genre. But for every cool character there’s always going to be a fair few Daredevil, Elektra, or Ghost Riders.

Now the studios are even starting to reboot the franchises that are barely a decade old. X-men, Spiderman and Superman are all getting a fresh coat of CGI and the paint has hardly dried on the last batch. Seriously do we really need another lot ALREADY???

These comic book/superhero blockbusters aren’t even taking over the top tens of highest grossing films of the summers. In 2002, only Batman Begins and Fantastic Four made it. In 2003 only X-men 3 and Superman Returns made it. But then in 2004 and 2005, the top spots were filled by Spiderman 3, Iron Man and The Dark Knight. Bringing it right up to date… in 2009, only the Wolverine spin off film hit the top 10 highest grosser list and in 2010, Iron Man 2 beat competition from original works like Inception and Despicable Me.

If you love comics and you love the movies and I’ve offended you to your very core, then I’m very sorry. But look at the blockbusters I got to devour as a kid in the 80s. Aliens, Back to the Future, The Terminator, E.T., Ghostbusters, Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop. And the 90s… Titanic, The Matrix, Speed, Forrest Gump, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Toy Story! Give me these beauties any day over the next buffed up pretty boy in tights and a screaming damsel girl next door.

So despite the pretty trailers for the coming summer’s superhero antics, I’m going to vote with my wallet. If YOU want to see more originality or even just more sequels to interesting, exciting, not overdosed on silly special effects movies, then don’t be lured by the trailers! Remember you’ve seen it all before! You’ll forget it in a week (if not less).