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DC needs an upgrade for movies to be succesful

http://www.aroundcomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/dclogo.jpgThere were some major hits in the comic movie arena this summer. Iron Man and The Incredible hulk were home runs and The Dark Knight was the biggest grand slam of them all. These movies once again have shown the special marriage between comic books and movies is here to stay. However, this something something special has happened. The superhero movies have grown and the basic mold has been broken. People now know and expect something more complex and sophisticated out of a movie. The linear approach and simplicity of a movie like Ghost Rider will not be accepted.

DC and WB are scratching their heads pondering real hard where to go from where they are to be where Marvel is. Their idea clearly is to set multiple platforms and capitalize with one big team up movie(s). However, DC is faced with more decisions and obstacles than Marvel. One of them being how to present the characters to an audience of today without looking unrealistically out of place with its contemporaries.

That is a big problem. The characters and their nature are stuck in a different time. DC comics has not grown with the times. The comments watchmen director Zach Snyder has made are true. The audience is more sophisticated these days and you CANNOT sell them something that is too earnest or unrealistic because they simply wont buy into it. That is if, of course, getting the general http://bothhands.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/wonder-woman-color-001.jpg?w=214&h=247public(i.e. people who are not fans of the character) to even consider checking out your movie is what you are looking for. Unfortunately that is what most of the DC catalogue is sitting at: Filling an archetype. People wearing colorful spandex with capes and masks and with outdated themes. It may have worked for Linda Carter in the 70s but it would just look straight up ridiculous in a modern movie. The common audience wont take it seriously and it is that realism and reflection of the times that DC lacks in most of its core characters and has to modify to have a successful run in Hollywood.

Comic books are a part of popular culture which reflects itself in this form, and its themes and characters have evolved with the times for people to identify with them. Golden Age stuff has historical significance and importance but compared to what it is now it just doesn’t fit. DC has not updated their characters with the times and now were having a huge problem with Superman and its difficulty to have the audience relate to the current incarnation/presentation of the character. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug02/superman/images/supermaneagle.jpgSuperman returns was basically a repeat of a 1979 CLASSIC, and this day it didn’t go over too well even with the core FANS because its been done and ,well, it was just silly. People simply didn’t care and take the use of this presentation of the character as one of the weak points of the latest superman movie that’s left a bad taste on movie goers. Note how trying to do the same thing again to please and not alienate the fans ended up upsetting the fans, losing out on repeat viewings and interest of the general public, and not meeting expectations in the box office. Established movie franchises like James Bond have had to adapt with the times to keep filling the seats, and clearly it is working for them. Pierce Brosnan shooting from his invisible car holding a martini was not going to work forever and had to upgrade. That is what has to be done, of course, if setting up multimillion dollar franchises is what WB is down with.

A movie is not made for audiences in the past 70 years. Its made for an audience of TODAY. The reason the Dark knight was successful was because the character was presented in a modern setting with modern themes and situations in a manner that was realistic enough for the audience to suspend their disbelief and take interest all http://enscreenshots.softonic.com/s2en/65000/65523/3_the-dark-knight-3-1024.jpgwhile still maintaining the essence of the character. There was a reason for Batman to wear a riot gear armor and not spandex with underoos. It was necessary for you to see that it made sense. Of course there are characters like Batman and maybe even superman that must maintain their cape and cowl, but the presentation of most the characters has to be modified and upgraded for these times and someone as imersed in this like Mark Millar will tell you the same. It is possible that the new wave of movies does this for the comics instead of the other way around but certainly DC has to catch up with the times.

I understand fans wishes to respect the history of the character, and certainly the essense of the character has to remain, but if you want to make money and keep people interested you cannot deliver a character that is out of setting with how sofisticated and non-naive the audience is. Not if you want to cash in big at the BO. When people are faced with something too surreal or not well done they wont enjoy the movie but will spend their time critizicing or making sense of it in their minds instead of watching it. The movie of course has to be fun, and has to be well written, etc, but if DC wants to pull this off succesfully in the same way marvel is doing it the characters have to be treated with a sense of common sensibility and realism that the characters currently do not have. Not to mention it has to be done in the same degree so that they can all be in the crossover movie.

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August 19, 2008 - Posted by | Comics, Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. While I understand your frame of thinking, I have to respectfully disagree w/ most of your assessment of modern comics & films. While I do agree the campiness of earlier DC comic adapations (and costumes, of course…) should be updated (Aquaman, Wonder Woman, etc.) the spirit of each character should remain intact. Superman is an iconic character, and if he is to be portrayed in a “modern vein”, he would cease to be Superman. What makes the character so appealing is that he has always been reliable, and has bucked the trend. No matter how much the world changed, we could always count on Superman (which, of course was a point “Superman Returns” kind of missed w/ his deadbeat dad routine…) While the world goes pessimistic and “dark”, Superman as a character remained a symbol of optimism and always tried to do what is right, despite his limits & shortcomings.

    Your assessment of modern times equal modern films doesn’t not hold weight when put up against films like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, where Aragorn is virtually incoorruptable, “Jesus-like” and noble. These films made huge box office because people crave nobility an honor, even if the world is crumbling around them, so to speak.

    “Superman Returns” was not a total failure, and no matter what direction the film took, someone was going to complain or be disappointed by it. Basically, it came down to too little action in the film, which translates these days into poor box office. I’ll admit, aside from some of the many acknowledged plot holes in the film (super kid-yuk!, Lois Lane married, kyptonite effectiveness, etc.), what ultimately made it “unsuccessful” was a weak storyline and a weak villain. In short, SUPERMAN IS AN EPIC HERO AND HE NEEDS AND HE NEEDS TO BE CHALLENGED BY AN EPIC VILLIAN, LIKE BRANIAC OR DOOMSDAY. With such a villian the film could have explored Superman his “god” complex; when he is challenged and maybe even defeated, he can then become introspective on his own mortality and limits. Having said that, if “Superman Returns” was a 2 1/2 hour slugfest w/ half of Metroplois in rubble by the films end, the film would have-could have been a major success.

    Personally, I think the “dark” hero routine is getting worn-out. If every character & movie is going to mimic “The Dark Knight” in tone (which was an excellent film, by the way…), why bother making anymore comic movies at all? They will only be a variation of the same theme. Anyway, this is just my opinion and thanks for hearing me out.

    Comment by Rich Santos | August 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. P.S. My sincerest apologies for missing some points in your article. I am not a fast typer and I see you do wnat the characters to be respected. I think I was responding to another blog earlier that wanted Superman to be a kick-ass, outta hell kinda character. Your points are very logigal and well-taken. :)

    I do agree that certain characters have to be made more logical, modernized and upgraded for a more “realistic” tone, but what I meant was if the essense of the character is lost, then the film takes a whole new direction. Please note “The Dark Knight” was not appropriate for smaller kids, and the box office was driven by mostly adults. Superman should be an exciting, vibrant, actionpacked that ultimately has a feel-ggod tone about it. My worry is that a reboot will overdo the ‘dark’ thing… Thanks again. :)

    Comment by Rich Santos | August 25, 2008 | Reply


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