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Where Some Modern Superhero Movies Failed

Where Some Modern Superhero Movies Failed

Where Some Modern Superhero Movies Failed images 2016

According to several websites whose representatives have had the immense pleasure of watching Captain America: Civil War, the movie was awesome. I’ll be providing my own review of the film in the days to come. They have trouble comparing the film to Captain America: Winter Soldier whether Cap’s third outing is superior to or at par with its predecessor. That indicates how great the film is. It would also indicate that the Russo Brothers are great fans of comic books and that they’re destined to direct superhero movies. Collider praises the respect the Russo Brothers have for the source material. In Captain America: Winter Soldier, Bucky’s character was practically ripped out from the pages of the comics. It was relatively easy given that modern superhero comic book costumes are influenced by films. Despite having so many characters to work with, they managed to shoehorn Spider-Man into the film as well as if the film was designed to work with or without the web-crawler, which it probably was. It’s not that there’s too many characters in the mix, it’s the skill of leveling those characters into their roles. It’s still Cap’s movie according to Collider with Tony and Bucky as seconds while the others were great as backup. At least, that’s their opinion. If Captain America: Civil War were a building, it’s a solid piece of engineering. So how about the other superhero movies made out of Jenga blocks which critics pulled apart until they collapsed?

batman vs superman latest trailer brings more super 2015 images

Batman v Superman

Is one of 2016’s most anticipated movie next to the Captain America: Winter Soldier. It’s also a historic moment where two of DCs most iconic heroes work together for the first time on the big screen. How DC keeps leaving out its female leads in titles still boggle me, like in the animated film Superman/Batman: Apocalypse was mostly about Supergirl. The title leaves Wonder Woman out even though she appeared as Wonder Woman at the end of the movie, with an amazing musical score and fought even better than the two male leads. But where did this one really fail? First, it felt bland and overly gloomy. Dark and gritty really doesn’t work for the Man of Steel. They could have left those parts out for Batman’s scenes. DC is currently having a great deal of trouble working with Superman in comics or in film. How does one treat the red and blue Boy Scout in the modern world? One can argue that the best Superman films are still Superman 1 and 2, despite the camp. Because of the bland taste fans were left after leaving the theaters, word-of-mouth may have contributed to the less than expected gross 900 million dollars worldwide. Such a historic film should have topped 1 billion.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice smothers a potentially powerful story – and some of America’s most iconic superheroes – in a grim whirlwind of effects-driven action.”

–Rotten Tomatoes

“The point of Batman v Superman isn’t fun, and it isn’t thinking, either. It’s obedience. The theology is invoked … to buttress a spectacle of power. And in that way, the film serves as a metaphor for its own aspirations. The corporations that produce movies like this one, and the ambitious hacks who sign up to make them, have no evident motive beyond their own aggrandizement.”

–AO Scott, The New York Times

“…what Batman v Superman can do, it does, at the cost of coherency and thrills. The movie is bat-shit crazy. A dour, disdainful demeanor, plus a gluttony of complex plot twists, dissipates most of the contact high.”

–Mat Patches, Thrillist

Robbie Collin of the Telegraph sums up the film in one word, “humorless”. Though I had a chuckle when Superman asked Batman whether Wonder Woman was with him. We’re not ripping apart the film here. I’m as much a fan of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as much as the next guy. I’d watch the film again just to get over some of the complexity and see the great action at the end. Like I said before, if you’re not a comic book person, watch the movie with one. And really, Wonder Woman’s appearance and musical score is one of the best points of the movie.

green lantern movie ryan reynolds

Green Lantern

Being in development hell since 1997 may not have helped this movie from the start. The Green Lantern movie may have set the bar for the worst comic book movie since X-Men: The Last Stand. Superhero movies are compared to it with this movie earning the number 10 and even parodied on The Big Bang Theory as one of Sheldon’s basis for judging character. Not making friends with him anytime soon as this movie is one of this author’s guilty pleasures along with the first Ghost Rider film. Many fans find it difficult to get past the decision to CGI the Green Lantern Corps’ costumes. Perhaps the budget could have been used for a better screenplay. For me, the costumes were okay. How do aliens dress anyway, especially a highly diversified intergalactic police force any of whom may potentially be allergic to one physical costume material? Hey, energy might look good on you and a perfect fit.

“Green Lantern does not intend to be plausible. It intends to be a sound-and-light show, assaulting the audience with sensational special effects. If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.”

–The Telegraph

The show is about green and yellow light, so it will tend to be a light and sound show. Personally, here are the things I didn’t like about the movie. Apart from Ryan Reynolds, who was perfect in Deadpool by the way, the rest of the human cast were rather wooden. Hector Hammond felt unnecessary (pug-ugly too) and the CGI, spent mostly for the costumes seemed lacking for the villain Parallax. Remove these problems and this film could easily blend in with Warner Bros’ DCU if its events occur after Batman v Superman.

“…serves up all the requisite elements with enough self-deprecating humor to suggest it doesn’t take itself too seriously,”

–Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“…the film offers a dazzling array of visual effects, a likable hero, a beautiful leading lady, a colorful villain, and a good backstory. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously,”

–Leonard Martin, film reviewer

The aforementioned reviewers’ last words may sum up the film’s major shortcoming. It didn’t take itself too seriously.

eric bana hulk movie

Hulk

Compared to the Green Lantern movie, this one I have a difficult time re-watching. Maybe it’s the purist in me. The movie begins on a premise that like many of the stuff we eat, Bruce Banner was genetically modified by his father, David Banner (which by the way is the alias given to Bill Bixby in the Hulk live-action TV series). I liked Lou Ferrigno’s cameo though. Also, instead of a scrawny Edward Norton, we have slightly buff Eric Bana playing the scrawny scientist. He felt slightly hulked out from the start of the movie with his brooding demeanor. Despite earning 61% in Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert’s positive review, I find this movie difficult to sit through. The CGI Hulk leaves plenty to be desired. He did look like a ticked-off Shrek. I also find the final parricide battle a bit anti-climactic relying too much on CGI. It was kind of exciting finding out that Hulk was going to be fighting The Absorbing Man. But I’ll stick to MCU’s Carl Crusher Creel. I’d have to wonder though whether The Creel in AOS is the same Creel in the Netflix Daredevil. The real problem with this movie was not following the source material. There was no Rick Jones in this movie, just some guy named Harper.

“While Ang Lee’s ambitious film earns marks for style and an attempt at dramatic depth, there’s ultimately too much talking and not enough smashing.”

–Consensus, Rotten Tomatoes

iron man 3 movie

Iron Man 3

Speaking of source material, this is where Marvel Studios bit the bullet to tell what they thought was a good, grim story with a comedic twist. Though branded as the worst Iron Man film, Iron Man 3 grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. The prospect of seeing the Mandarin and a ton of other armors had that effect on people. Iron Man 1 suggested the presence of the iconic Iron Man villain Mandarin due to the name of the group that abducted Tony Stark, The Ten Rings. The organization’s logo persisted in Iron Man 3 and we finally get to see the Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley? That’s a problem right there. The Mandarin, instead of being Asian, is a Caucasian who probably adopted Asian culture. Not being disrespectful to Mr. Kingsley, but what about Jacky Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat or that Japanese guy who often plays an Asian antagonist? Then the twist. The Mandarin wasn’t real but was instead a front for AIM. The Mandarin was nothing more than a stand-in leader for Aldritch Killian’s terrorist organization.

Next, is having a kid as a sort of sidekick. That’s pure Disney right there. An influence many fans were afraid of when Marvel was bought by Disney. It probably would have been fun if Stark met up with some brainy but beautiful lady to help him out and maybe have a one-night fling to complicate things.

But then the movie seemed to be already complicated. We see Stark struggling with PTSD from New York, being targeted by AIM pretending to be the organization The Ten Rings, using an experimental super soldier solution called Extremis and saving the president of the United States. Despite being considered the worst Iron Man movie, it still grossed over a billion dollars, had one of the largest openings in film history and earned a 71 percent fresh in Rotten Tomatoes. It’s still a nice movie I can always sit through and one can think of other movies not to bother with. This film may have made use of too much source material to make the movie a bit of a mess.

spider man 3 movie

Spider-Man 3

About that mess thing, compared to this movie’s brilliant predecessor, Spider-Man 3 was indeed a mess. The problem, too much going on, perhaps because of one unnecessary black sticky ingredient that would have been a great film on its own. Just because the film was titled Spider-Man 3, it doesn’t mean that there should be three villains in the mix, Osborn, Sandman and Venom. Imagine if the Sinister Six movie was pushed through. Like Iron Man 3, Spider-Man 3 also grossed highly at 890 million dollars worldwide and is entirely re-watchable but derided by many fans who probably wanted to see something to top Spider-Man 2. Yes, it’s really difficult to top a good thing like Superman 2 and Aliens. The Russo’s would be gods if they do top Captain America: Winter Soldier with Civil War.

Back to Spider-Man, we knew Osborn will have to deal with Spidey at some point. Due to time constraints and maybe he was too much in a hurry, he had to come up with the uninspired New Goblin. It might have been more fun if he became a pimped-up incarnation of the Hobgoblin instead. Then, because there didn’t seem to have too much to work on, we get a watered-down version of the iconic Gwen Stacy. The third, most annoying aspect of the film was the retcon of Uncle Ben’s death to involve Flint Marko, the Sandman. It was an imaginative move though if you wanted to offer up Peter Parker’s dark side to the symbiote. Give him a compelling target. Many hated the symbiote-influenced-Peter strutting around downtown, but it was kind of fun.

“Though there are more characters and plotlines, and the action sequences still dazzle, Spider-Man 3 nonetheless isn’t quite as refined as the first two.”

–Rotten Tomatoes, 63% fresh

“…the three villains here don’t add up to one Doc Ock…”

–David Edelstein, New York Magazine

“Sam Raimi overreached his grasp…Venom is one bad guy too many.”

–James Beardinelli, AOL film critic

batman and robin movie

Batman and Robin

Frank Miller and Tim Burton practically raised Batman back from the dead. They also brought Batman to the limelight much to Superman’s disadvantage. Frank Miller brought Batman back to his dark and gritty roots and even provided the source material for Batman v Superman. Tim Burton breathed new life into the character’s cinematic franchise. Both of their works highly influences how Batman is done up to this day. Sooner or later though, Bruce Wayne’s heart skips a beat, and we get Batman and Robin. The accentuated bat butt and bat nipples alone probably killed the movie. Maybe if they gave those nipples to bat-girl…

First, while cute and endearing, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Mr. Freeze was terribly campy with campy one-liners and equally campy henchmen. I will not work for this guy for a million dollars because I can’t stand the cold. Robin is over-rebellious which was exacerbated by an equally campy Poison Ivy played by Uma Thurman. Lastly, mucha-lucha Bane really ruined everything for fans. Fans might have expected something akin to the Knightfall storyline when news broke out that Bane would be in the film. Holy drop-dead disappointment Batman! Lastly, we get a terrible departure from source material turning Batgirl Barbara Gordon from ‘lifeless’ Commissioner Gordon’s daughter to life-threatened Alfred Pennyworth’s niece Barbara Wilson. Like Spiderman 3, this is one movie with too many villains to shake a bat with. Speaking of too many villains, Suicide Squad looks promising.

“If there’s anybody watching this, that… let’s say, loved Batman Forever, and went into Batman & Robin with great anticipation, if I’ve disappointed them in any way, then I really want to apologize. Because it wasn’t my intention. My intention was just to entertain them.”

–Joel Schumacher, apology for Batman and Robin

x men last stand movie

X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand is one of some superhero movies I have trouble re-watching. Source material this, source material that, call me a purist. But the effects were great, and the final battle was somewhat satisfying seeing how the Scott-less, Xavier-less X-Men fought against overwhelming odds. The X-Men franchise, for the most part, is a great epic to those not familiar with the comics and animated series. It’s mostly an epic conclusion to the Logan-Jean Grey love story. A very very loose adaptation to the iconic Dark Phoenix saga. Many fans were highly disappointed when they killed Xavier and Cyclops early in the movie. Why? We then get a de-powered weakling Rogue despite her being one of the more powerful X-Men characters. Mystique was watered-down; Angel who was one of the original X-Men in the comics was nothing more than a conversation piece; Juggernaut became a momentum-powered mutant instead of Xavier’s half-brother and the alien Phoenix became the side-effect of schizophrenia with unclear motivations other than being insane. X-Men: The Last Stand was the worst of the X-Men Trilogy. Again, a problematic follow-up to the good sequel, X-Men: United.

“…a wham-bam sequel noticeably lacking in the pop gravitas, moody atmospherics, and emotional weight that made the first two Marvel comic book adaptations so rousingly successful.”

–Justin Chang, Variety

“A risk-taking script with genuine consequences elevates this above the lackluster direction of Brett Ratner, whose competent mechanics move the story efficiently but with very little soul.”

–Frank Lovece, Film Journal International

“…just another big-budget B-movie. It’s a fast and enjoyable B-movie, though.”

–David Edelstien, New York Magazine

avengers age of ultron movie

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Should this be included? Joss Whedon’s sudden departure from Marvel seems to suggest so. Plus, many fans seem to think so. The movie is like Batman v Superman. Good but not great. Bad, but there are worse things out there. Unlike Batman v Superman though, this movie earned 1.4 billion dollars worldwide. Most likely due to hunger for more of the Avengers and that must-see continuity thing in the shared universe that the MCU has built up. Unlike the more cohesive Avengers film which was built up by earlier Phase 1 movies, Avengers 2 seems to fall short. For me, the initial battle versus Hydra somehow felt artificial. Too dependent on CGI. But despite the film’s high dependence on CGI, the most awaited Hulkbuster Iron Man versus Hulk fight was awesome. Like Batman v Superman, the film needs some explaining to non-comic book fans. It’s another bring-a-nerd-with-you film especially that sudden shift to the part where Thor took a bath at the pool to get that vision of the Infinity stones. Marvel really makes it tough for fans who expect something that tops a previous offering like The Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier and the surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times says the experience best.

“Although this movie is effective moment to moment, very little of it lingers in the mind afterward. The ideal vehicle for our age of immediate sensation and instant gratification, it disappears without a trace almost as soon as it’s consumed.”

I kind of felt the same way. After watching the first Avengers, I went, “Wow! That was awesome.” After watching the second, “Wow! What did I just watch? Ultron’s still alive isn’t he?”

Scott Mendelson of Forbes says something similar.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron plays like an obligation, a box to be checked off on a list before all parties move onto the things they really want to do.”

In fairness to the legendary Joss Whedon, he may have set out what he really wanted to do. Not all of it since he had clashes with management. The result was just not what fans expected. The problem with this movie may be studio interference. Would it have been better if things went his way?

fantastic four movie reboot 2016

The Fantastic Four (Reboot)

Most of the films in the list had favorable reviews in Rotten Tomatoes, high box office grosses and even thumbs up from Roger Ebert (its doubtful many agree with him these days) but many fans on forums, comments sections and social media have expressed their disappointments. This Fantastic Four reboot, however, had misgivings from the start. Nothing would have saved this film even if director Josh Trank had his way with the movie. Fans, both white and black did not like Michael B. Jordan’s casting as the Human Torch. Racebending was a no-no for this one. How do you explain racially different siblings? Adoption of course. What’s the point anyway? Plus, giving Dr. Doom his own cosmic powers was a no-no even in the previous two films. Giving him powers just made him obnoxious, not intimidating. Plus a poor characterization of the greatest Marvel villain of all time. Not to mention the rest of the cast. Plus a terrible screenplay. Loose adaptation is a big no-no in modern superhero movies. Marvel Comics corrected Doom’s embarrassing outing with its Secret Wars storyline and unfortunately put the first family in hiatus probably until Fox comes to their senses and sell back the franchise. Speaking of selling back the franchise, another factor in the film’s failure is that pro-Marvel studio fans wanted the rights back to Marvel so badly that no one wanted to see anything from Fox aside from the X-Men. Fox practically mooned the fans with disappointing trailers of the reboot film. It would have been more fun if they continued where the original films left off since an early reboot is not what fans wanted. Many important scenes were cut off from the finished product and in the end, Josh Trank even disowned the film.

“Dull and downbeat, this Fantastic Four proves a woefully misguided attempt to translate a classic comic series without the humor, joy, or colorful thrills that made it great.”

–Rotten Tomatoes, 9% fresh rating

“…the cinematic equivalent of malware…worse than worthless.”

–Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

amazing spider-man movie

Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2

No one wanted to see Uncle Ben die again so early on, but that’s just what happened. Spider-Man was rebooted too early by Sony pictures when Sam Raimi and cast didn’t go back aboard. But fans were curious, so the Amazing Spider-Man movie made a substantial amount of money. Here we see Sony adhere to the source material giving Peter Parker web shooters instead of mutated wrists. The formula for the webs don’t come from Peter though but from Oscorp. We also get Gwen Stacy as his girlfriend instead of Mary Jane, which probably confused non-comics fans. We even have the mystery of Peter’s parents working as spies which was never discussed in Sam Raimi’s movies. The secret identity thing, however, goes out the window in the first fifteen minutes putting Gwen immediately in harm’s way. Peter Parker here is not as smart as we’d like to be. He’s more brash and emotional. Because it’s another teen movie. But Spider-Man does banter more with his enemies here. Because it’s a recent reboot, we can’t have the Green Goblin/Norman Osborn involved immediately, so we get the would-have-been-foe if Raimi was still involved, the Lizard. The first movie was fine though it was a little bland. Andrew Garfield gave it his best, though.

Many fans including myself found this reboot bland. It’s unfortunate that Sony could not roll out the film in the time Sam Raimi required to redeem himself from Spider-Man 3’s shortcomings. In fairness to Sony, they had to do a reboot or the rights go back to Marvel, which fans want.

Amazing Spider-Man 2, however, was a different story. Again, like Fantastic Four, superhero fans wanted Spider-Man back in Marvel’s stables as soon as possible after the success of The Avengers and weren’t much interested in another movie produced by a different studio. Again with the racebending, Sony cast Jamie Foxx as Electro, another of Spider-Man’s iconic villains. In fairness to Jamie Foxx, his acting was okay. What’s wrong with this movie again is that there’s also too much going on. Like in Spider-Man 3, there’s too many villains but unlike Spider-Man 3, Rhino was more of a bookmark character. Unlike the first Spider-Man movie, Norman Osborn dies of disease and Harry becomes the Green Goblin. Gwen dies at the end of this installment which also disappointed some fans enamored with the Garfield/Stone chemistry. The movie was not really bad but failed to reach expectations. Expectations were raised too high by Sony though for something many weren’t eager to see.

“While the cast is outstanding and the special effects are top-notch, the latest installment of the Spidey saga suffers from an unfocused narrative and an overabundance of characters.”

–Rotten Tomatoes, 53% fresh rating

“Peter’s past, present and future all intertwine in a sequel that offers bang for your buck. That said you can’t help [but] feel the franchise bean counters at work here thanks to all the ominous foreshadowing and unresolved character arcs. Too many cooks and all that …”

–Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy

Amazing Spider-Man is not that bad. All-in-all, it’s a decent movie. But money talks and Sony could make much more putting Spider-Man in the MCU instead of gambling with the character to the point of worthlessness like Fox did with the Fantastic Four.

catwoman movie

Catwoman

Is out there with the Fantastic Four reboot. Halle Berry’s beauty and talent was better off on the modelling catwalk than in the movie. Nuff Said!

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