Friday, August 04, 2006

"When too much of a good thing is a bad thing" or "How I learnt to stop worrying and love multiple genres."

If Hollywood is the barometer of success for the western world then super-heroes couldn't be much hotter. Comic books, despite selling in much less quantity then in previous years is still near enough a 400 million dollar industry, and that's not counting the movie / DVD side of things. Super-heroes are hot right now, it's a fact.
Unfortunately, with that simple truth comes another one: supply and demand. If people think they can turn a buck by simply copying the current trend rather than trying to do something new and original, they will - of course - follow the path of least resistance. That's why 1977-1985 saw lot's of Sci-fi flicks like "Flight of the navigator" and "Last Starfighter", and why "American Pie" triggered a slew of like-minded clones.

Case in point: "Sky High" and "My Super Ex-girlfriend".
All films like this do is dilute the pond as they try to grasp onto the succesfull "formula" of comic book movies.
Let's be fair, for every Spider-man, Batman Begins or Ghost World there is a Catwoman, Elektra or Man-thing. Our soda is being watered down but we are expected to keep drinking it.

As long as money is being made, our comic films will keep getting made. But like the 1987-1995 Batman film franchise proved, it can all go wrong far too quickly. We are only ever one "Waterworld" comic book equivalent away from it all going to shit.

Unless... it possible? Could Hollywood have stopped looking at comic book movies as genre pieces? Surely by now Spider-man and the Batman Begins movie franchises are judged by there own merits and not just lumped into the same stock as The Hulk? Sam Raimi and Chris Nolan are both making intelligent, thoughtful movies that the mainstream AND comic puritans can both appreciate, rather than the smash / crash / pow affair of Schumachers campy Bat-romps.
We all know Cronenbergs ignorance about the existence of "A History of Violence", and I find it hard to believe that "Constantine" was green-lighted because Spider-man 2 took £200 million on its opening week.

When you look at the great comic book movies of the last decade, you have your Blade Trilogy, Road to Perdition, Mystery Men, V for Vendetta, Oldboy, Men in Black, X-Men, Battle Royale, and Superman. Over the next few years we have Iron Man, Sin City 2, 30 Days of Night, Torso, Spidey and Bat's sequels, Scott Pilgrim, and Ghost Rider all to look forward to.
The only discernible pattern is that people in Hollywood are paying attention to the old funny-books, judging each one by it's own merits regardless of genre or subject matter, publisher or country of origin, language or creator.

So if Hollywood - with one of the most inbred, blinkered, backward looking, keeping-up-with-the-Jonesses, pathetic money grabbing viewpoints of anyplace, anywhere on the planet - can judge comics individually...

...why can't most comic fans?


Sid said...

This post is dedicated to the (thankfully) minority of people who still freeze when confronted with something new. The customers who are afraid to read Scott Pilgrim because its in a smaller format than X-Men, the Manga fans who refuse to look at Western comics, the superhero fans who refuse to pick up a Bilal book and all the Transformer fans who refused to watch Beast Wars.

Anonymous said...

And that group no longer includes me! I've even read a Transformers trade!

Andvok said...

Anyone who has a sense of humour and buys comics should read Scott Pilgrim.

The people Sid just described make me want to hit things. Hard.

By things I mean "them".

Anonymous said...

Hell, my sister enjoyed Scott Pilgrim, and she has no sense of humour whatsoever!

Ace said...

Fine, fine! Enough already... Stick me a copy of Scott Pilgrim Volume 1 in my folder.

Happy now, everyone? I've not enough money to buy my John Romita jr Eternals cover, but I have to catch up on another comic...