Stop Being the ‘Black Hole of Fun’ for Comic Book Movies
So, I saw Ant-Man on Monday and I loved it. Truth is, it might have been a more enjoyable theater experience for me than Avengers Age of Ultron.
Yes, you read that right. I think I enjoyed myself more watching Ant-Man. Don’t get me wrong though. Avengers Age of Ultron is still the better movie to me. See, the thing about Ant-Man is, I didn’t have any real expectations outside of it being a Marvel Studios movie. With Age of Ultron there was months of speculation and rumors. There were think pieces and early reviews. There were the back and forth over which new characters would be in the movie. Was Carol Danvers already cast? Would she make an appearance? Was T’Challa and Wakanda in the movie? Would Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver be better than Evan Peter’s Quicksilver? All these things increased my anxiety for watching the film. Then the film came out and it got even worse. Talk about how it was “too jumbled”, how we needed the 4 hour cut of the movie (newsflash, no one wants to sit through a 4 hour movie,no matter how good it is), the asinine arguments over Black Widow’s romance with Bruce Banner and the ridiculous jumping to conclusions over her “monster” statement. While I enjoyed the film a lot and have it as one of my all time favorite comic book movies, these outside elements really sucked some of the joy out of the movie for me. And it was no fault of the movie itself. It’s like when you’re really looking forward to eating at your favorite burger spot but the assholes in the car with you decide to have an hour long discussion on the mistreatment of cattle. It sours the experience.
So I tried a different approach with Ant-Man. I tried to limit the discussions I read and had about the movie before I saw it. I didn’t care to speculate on how much money it would make (no, its not going to make a billion nor does it need to ). I didn’t read that many interviews from Peyton Reed or Paul Rudd or any other members of the cast. Other than the main trailer, I avoided as many of the TV Spots as I could. I even managed to avoid the spoiler about which Avenger was in the movie. This one was a hard one because as the owner of an entertainment site, you can come across these things even when you’re not trying to (Not to mention as I was writing this I just saw a TV spot that spoiled it). The end result was that when I sat down to watch Ant-Man, I had a calm about me. I was excited to see the film but it wasn’t the anxious excitement I had for Age of Ultron. I watched the movie and…I loved it. Nothing had been spoiled for me so things that happened in the film were genuinely shocking to me. The scenes with the certain Avenger were outstanding and might be some of that character’s best moments in any film they’ve been in. The experience of actually enjoying a comic book movie without feeling like it was a job and that I had to watch it in order to defend it, was back. This is what I wish I could have had for Age of Ultron if folks weren’t trying to go out of their way to ruin that experience. Which brings me to this:
Stop Being the Black Hole of Fun.
Yes, I’m talking about you. You right there. The person reading this now. The person that sends me every article with a rumor or speculation. The person that jumps to conclusions over every casting rumor. The person that swears WB (or insert any studio) is doomed because someone turns down a job working on it or a script is going through a rewrite. The person that voluntarily @'s me on Twitter how much they don't like a film that I am clearly saying I'm excited to see. The person that feels the need to tell me how much they hated Man of Steel or that Age of Ultron was trash.
STOP BEING THE BLACK HOLE OF FUN
Not only are you ruining it for other people (Read: ME) but you’re ruining the experience for yourself as well and now you’re stuck. I’m writing this on Thursday night, right before Phenom and I record our review for Ant-Man. I can already tell you without reading the reviews from other critics and fans that a good number of the negative reviews will mention Edgar Wright at some point in their review. Why? Because subconsciously they convinced themselves that this movie wouldn’t be good the day Edgar Wright walked away from the project. The great Edgar Wright couldn’t see eye-to-eye with Feige and Marvel? Obviously there’s no way this movie could be good then right? Right? Wrong. What a silly and ridiculous thing to think.
It’s dawned on me that the movies that are always causing the most contentious arguments among comic book movie watchers are those movies that have the heaviest speculation. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t a bad movie. The problem is, there were so many rumors and leaks and speculation about the movie before it came out, it was bound to be a disappointment to many who watched it. Even the posters for the movies were marketed in a way to make it seem like the focus would be on Spider-Man taking on the Sinister Six (or at least 3 of them). But that’s not actually how the movie played out. I actually had no problem with how they used the different villains in the movie but if you were expecting something else because of all the chatter before the movie, of course it was a disappointment. Iron Man 3 is also not a bad movie. But when Extremis was mentioned as being in the movie, the speculation went into high gear. I remember a post that had details on every one of the different Iron Man armors. The detail in each made you think you’d see those armors throughout the entire movie. Then there was a detailed “leak” of the after credits scene that told us the movie would end with Tony Stark going into outer space to meet the Guardians of the Galaxy. None of that happened. I don’t care how measured you are, if you get fed a bunch of lies that sound awesome, then see a movie and none of those lies actually happened, you’re going to be disappointed. Same thing happened with Age of Ultron. People’s expectations for that movie reached a point right before the movie came out that nothing Whedon did could possibly have lived up to the expectations. People actually expected to get a detailed telling of Black Widow’s backstory. A ridiculous expectation to have and a complete set up for failure. Where did that expectation come from? The Internet of course. People were reading and watching every interview they could. They tried to parse out every thing told to them and tried to put together the plot of the movie. Folks really thought they knew how the movie would go before it even came out. And when it didn’t…they were disappointed. This is a recurring theme.
The Internet is a great tool for building excitement. The problem is that it can also be used to kill that excitement by going overboard. The Internet allows us to get intimate details on the movies that are coming out and that's like watching sausage being made. There are lots of steps to making a film and not all of them are conducive to public consumption. Directors back out of films all the time for “creative differences”. Edgar Wright wasn’t even close to the first, and definitely won’t be the last. Scripts go back for rewrites and sometimes its for the best. Go back and look at the history of some of your favorite films and you’ll see their production was an absolute mess. But it didn’t matter when the films hit the big screen. Thing is, back then you didn’t have whole websites dedicated to posting “scoops” that are nothing more than speculation or worse, spoilers. I’m telling you now, if you find yourself having a problem enjoying these films, it might be time for you to STOP GOING TO THOSE SITES.
I think if Edgar Wright directed this same Ant-Man movie that is in theaters now, the score for it on Rotten Tomatoes would be in the 90’s. Folks have painted themselves into a corner though and have removed any chance of them enjoying the film. I saw the same thing with the Batman v Superman trailer. Folks said that trailer did nothing for them but were all hyped for the Suicide Squad trailer that, while good, didn’t really show much. Batman v Superman showed us Wonder Woman, Batman using is gadgets like the comic book for the first time ever and Batman & Superman squaring off. I’m sorry if none of that got your nerd juices flowing it might be time to do some soul searching on what’s happened to your inner child. You had zero expectations for Suicide Squad so as long as it wasn't a trailer of Killer Croc shitting in a pond, it was going to grab you. But there have been so many over the top rumors and speculation about Batman v Superman I think folks have literally talked themselves out of ever being able to enjoy this film. Time to take a step back. Stop reading every piece of speculation you find. Stop watching leaked versions of trailers. Yes… stop this. You’re going to watch a leaked trailer then make a judgement off of what you see recorded on someone’s iPhone. You’re setting yourself up. Have some self control. Stop working yourself into a frenzy over normal happenings of movies. Yes, Ava DuVernay turned down Black Panther. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with what Marvel Studios is planning to do with the character. Stop sucking the fun out of entertainment. This also means you need to stop giving clicks to sites whose sole purpose on the Internet is to rile the fanbase up. They’re going to post every set pictures/video, TV spot, rumor and spoiler they can find. They’re basically in the business of ruining movies. Stop giving them clicks.
The way I see it, the 3 Major Studios (I’m now rolling Sony up into Marvel Studios) all offer different things. If you want movies that closely resemble the current comic book landscape, go to Marvel Studios. There are moments when Age of Ultron looks straight out of the pages of a comic book. Yes there are “plot holes” and things that “just happen” but that’s comic books. If you like comic books, these are gonna be the movies for you. If you find Marvel Studios is too comedic, turn to Warner Brothers and their cinematic universe. Man of Steel was actually a very good origin story for Superman and we now have confirmation of how the events of that movie tie directly into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Also, Suicide Squad looks dark and twisted and different. If you’re a fan of the comic books I’d also say keep an eye out for Fox’s Fantastic Four (check out the Ultimate Fantastic Four books to see where this is pulling from) and Deadpool which seems to be giving fans the comic book Deadpool they’ve been asking for. If you’re not really a fan of reading comic books (This includes you people that haven't picked up a comic book since the late 90's) or you’re only loosely familiar with comic book characters (90’s cartoon and Wikipedia knowledge), don’t fret,the X-Men movies are perfect for you. No I’m not being sarcastic here. I’m actually envious. I wish I could enjoy the X-Men like other folks do. Problem is, I too have become the black hole of fun when it comes to these movies. The good news is, I’m working on that. I might never be able to truly enjoy the X-Men films but I’ve also accepted that they aren’t for me. Good for those that do enjoy them though.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We haven’t had a truly garbage comic book film involving one of the major characters since Green Lantern. Oh sure there are films that were just ok and even films I didn’t like. But none of them are are garbage. Not by my standards anyway. I was in San Diego for comic con and the first Fantastic Four film came on TV. First Class, Days of Future Past, Man of Steel, both Amazing Spider-Mans and every MCU film are infinitely better than that film. By the way, its interesting how we've allowed Chris Evans to shed the stigma of those two Fantastic Four movies yet folks still hang Daredevil on Ben Affleck (even though his performance isn't the problem with that movie).
Sure, there are going to be some things you just can't let go of. I’m still not happy with light skin Storm and there’s no denying that Apocalypse looks like Ivan Ooze. But X-Men: Age of Apocalypse has a great cast (for the most part) and I’m sure for those who like the rest of the X-Men movies, it’ll be exactly what they want. For the rest of us, why should we care? We get Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Captain America: Civil War and Dr. Strange in 2016. I was in on Deadpool when I saw the costume and they made it R rated. That comic con trailer for Batman v Superman ties it directly to Man of Steel and has the look and feel of a Batman v Superman film. Suicide Squad…look, they stuck with calling it Suicide Squad instead of going PC and calling it Task Force X. Plus Robbie & Smith? Plus Leto as the Joker? I don’t need to see anything else. And the two Marvel Studios movies? It’s Marvel Studios, ‘nuff said (Okay, maybe one thing to say: T’Challa). I don’t need to be sold on these movies. They sell themselves. And with that line up, I’m really not about to work myself into a frenzy over X-Men: Apocalypse. And who knows, if I just stop stressing over that film, I might even be able to enjoy it. Because that should be the end goal. We should want to enjoy these films. All of them.