Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ten of a Kind: Things They Need to Stop Doing in Super-Hero Movies

"The Way of the Geek" is going on indefinite hiatus for the time being, as I need to get more subjects lined up for it... but in the meantime, here's an all-new feature that I was planning to use when one of the recurring features ran out... "Ten of a Kind"! Ten of a Kind will feature a list of ten related things, based entirely on my opinion. I'll be covering all kinds of things in this feature, starting with today's "Things They Need to Stop Doing in Super-Hero Movies"! In no particular order...

1. Connecting the Hero's Origin to the Villain's Origin:
Ever since "Batman," it seems that Hollywood can't make a movie based on superheroes without revising the hero's origin so that it is connected to that movie's villain. Bruce Wayne's parents are killed by the man who became the Joker. Peter Parker gets his powers by being bitten by a spider at Norman Osborn's research plant. The Fantastic Four get exposed to a cosmic force that also affects Victor Von Doom. The list goes on and on, and none of them have any basis in the comic books. If they're going to do an origin, then keep it closer to the comic book origin!

2. Lay Off the Origin Story:
In my opinion, the only really good origins presented in movies are those in "Superman the Movie" and "Iron Man," and in both cases, they stayed pretty close to the comics. The rest of the time, most of the movies are tied up with the origin sequences, when I believe movie audiences want to see the hero in action! What I don't get is why, if they insist on having the origin, they can't just present it in brief... or even just have someone mention it off-handedly. For example, in the rebooted Fantastic Four series, have someone watching a news program, in which the announcer says, "Ever since Reed Richards and his crew were exposed to radiation during an experimental space-flight, gaining super-powers, the Fantastic Four have made it their job to protect not only New York City, but also the entire planet."

3. Keep the Villain Count Down:
It started with Batman Returns, with both the Penguin and Catwoman in the same movie, and continued in many movies after that... when they're making a sequel, they have at least two villains, and sometimes three! Now, I can understand why they want more villains, from a merchandising standpoint: Two villains means two new action figures in the line. So I'll offer a suggestion: If they want two villains, have the first one appear in a pre-title sequence, similar to the James Bond movies, where the title hero is in the middle of wrapping up an adventure surrounding the character. For example, open a Superman sequel with madness happening in Metropolis, we see Mr. Mxyzptlk laughing maniacally, "Super-sap can't trick me into returning back to the fifth dimension this time!" Then something happens where Mxy's tricked into saying his name backwards, and just before he vanishes, Superman reveals how he did it. Lois Lane is on the scene to interview the Man of Steel as we go to the opening credits, and THEN get to the movie proper.

4. Don't Kill Off Your Villains:
Again, I blame "Batman" for this, where the Joker was killed at the end. This has continued to happen since then, and the only villain death that was really called for was the Green Goblin's in "Spider-Man." If you're really serious about doing a series, you need to realize that you may need that villain to return in a future sequel! Having said that, however...

5. Don't Have the Same Villain Two Movies in a Row:
One of the few problems I had with Superman II was that Lex Luthor was in it... it would've been fine with just the Phantom Zone villains, IMHO. This hasn't been too big an issue, except most recently with Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which crammed Doom in there again, because just having the Surfer and Galactus wasn't enough, apparently.

6. Consider Not Using the Arch-Nemesis in the First Movie:
Now, this is one that Hollywood would have a huge problem with... this is why the first Superman movie had Luthor, the first Spidey movie had the Goblin, the first Batman movie had the Joker, and the first FF movie had Doom. But I say, why use the arch-enemy in the first movie? Set them up for the sequel, maybe. For the first FF movie, I would've been extremely happy to see the FF up against the Mole Man and some CGI'ed versions of the Kirby Monsters, probably happier than I was with the movie that was made. That also means no Luthor in the next Superman movie, no Goblin (or Doc Ock) in the first Spidey reboot!

7. If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It - In Other Words, Think Before You Reboot: I know pretty much all the pre-Avengers type movie superhero series (except for Batman) are all due for reboots... but are they really necessary? And if they are, does it need to be an obvious reboot? If a third Hulk film somehow gets made, there's no reason to have to set up an all-new origin and so forth... Banner gets made and turns into the Hulk, and he fights the army led by Ross. No reboot needed. Now, okay, some reboots are a good thing (I think a reboot of the FF movie franchise is a good idea), but they're not all necessary.

8. Don't Throw In Too Many "Easter Eggs" and Never Let Them Pay Off: I'm talking about stuff like having Dr. Curt Connors in the Spidey movies, yet he never becomes the Lizard (they'd have been better off doing that instead of Venom, if you ask me). The Iron Man movies got it right by introducing Rhodey in the first movie, and letting him become War Machine in the sequel.

9. Enough With the Rubber Costumes, Already:
Okay, we've all seen the fan films which feature superheroes dressed the way they are in the comics, and they look damn good. So why does Hollywood think every superhero needs to have a rubberized costume? Again, the blame for this falls squarely on Tim Burton's "Batman," which began it all... but this was also the case in "Daredevil" (okay, it was supposed to be leather, but it looked like a rubber suit) and, of course, in the Spider-Man movies, too. If you ask me, that was the most egregious rubber costume, as we are supposed to believe that Peter Parker was able to somehow create that? You may recall that the reason the movie Spidey had organic web-shooters was because we couldn't be expected to believe that Peter could manufacture web-shooters, but a texturized rubber costume with webbing that stood out in relief, that's something he was able to make in his room without Aunt May noticing anything? Hopefully, if they get this Spidey reboot off the ground, they'll give him a proper costume that could have possibly been made by Peter.

10. Stop Messing With the Costume Designs:
And finally, there's this one... Batman's costume has remained more or less the same since the beginning (with some stylistic changes here and there). Superman's costume hasn't had any real change in the comics since the shield and boots were finalized early on in his career. Hal Jordan's Green Lantern uniform is a classic design. Really, the only costume redesign in the movies I've been happy with is Iron Man's, and that one is close enough to the original that I can go with it. The addition of an S-Shield belt buckle in "Superman Returns" was ridiculous (so were the colors on that costume, for that matter). One of the things that's made these characters so iconic over the years is their look! Even a six-year-old can tell if a superhero's costume is wrong (trust me on this one). I don't care if someone thinks it won't look realistic on the big screen -- if you're dealing with a guy who has super-powers, suspension of disbelief is a done deal, so long as you make it look like we expect it to. We expect the costume to look right, too!


  1. Thanks, Legacy Brand Comics! Now if only someone in Hollywood would read this...


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