Humor: Marvel Studios’ Not-So-Secret-Sauce

For awhile now other studios have been trying to crack the Marvel Studios formulato varying degrees of success–though as far as I can tell their greatest problem is that they’re approaching it in that fashion (like so great mystery waiting to be solved), when in truth there’s isn’t any secret at all.

In a sense a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done for Marvel Studios in that they haven’t had to convince a large segment of the population to love their characters, since millions of us have grown up doing just that by reading comic books (something Warner Bros, the owners of DC Entertainment, are for some reason only just beginning to get).

So all Marvel had to do was essentially adapt their characters as true to the comics as common sense (a drawing and a actual person aren’t the same things, duh, so allowances had to be made or maybe the story of that character doesn’t quite fit in the framework that currently exists for Marvel features) would allow.

And there needs to be humor.  I’m not talking about the pratfalls you might get from The Three Stooges or anything like that, but the often unintentional comedy that comes from people just interacting with each other.

Here’s an example from the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.

What makes the scene work is that the humor’s derived not from some sort of pratfall, but from the natures of the chraracters involved.  

Thor is typically depicted as mighty, noble, kind and headstrong; the latter bordering on egotistical.  Combine his own nature with the Hulk (one of the stronger beings in all of Marvel) then you’re definitely going to get all sorts of friction, which can play out in various ways. 

In other words, in the earlier scene Thor is acting true to his nature (in the second scene he’s just an object for Hulk’s ire).

 It doesn’t make the movies comedies, but what it does is make them more naturalistic and less of a slog.

Because isn’t just living day to day difficult enough that just maybe you don’t want the movies you watch to get away from things for a little while to reflect that same esthetic?

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Official Trailer #2

Screenshot 2017-10-10 13.54.53I have to admit that this trailer brought a smile to my face; which I honestly didn’t expect because as of late Star Wars movies have become known for the drama behind the scenes than on the screen since becoming a part of Disney.

And dissatisfaction with a director or the way a story seems to be progressing is by no means uncommon, though with Lucasfilm it seem to occur on a regular basis, such as with Rogue One, and the upcoming Han Solo prequel.

Which is why Rian Johnson’s (Brick, Looper) upcoming The Last Jedi is so refreshing.  It appears that he got the job, and shot the movie.  (Seemingly) No fuss, no muss and thankfully no drama.

Pacific Rim: Uprising – Teaser Trailer

1993’s kaiju versus giant robots epic Pacific Rim never appeared to find its audience domestically–earning three times more ($102 million vs $309 million) at the foreign box office (primarily China). 

And it’s hard to understand why, epecially when you take into account it had more heart and was more clever in it’s first five minutes the all the Transmorphers movies combined (that’s not a typo.  I despise those movies so much I dare not type their names) and those made gobs of money. 

On the strength of the aforementioned foreign box recepts we’re getting a sequel: Pacific Rim: Uprising (speaking of which, who’s doing the ‘uprising?’  The first movie revolved around extra dimensional beings who entered this world through a rift in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean though the subtitle implies a significant change in relationship between humans and the aliens).  

What I know for certain is that Guillermo Del Toro will not be directing this time around (that honor goes to Steven DeKnight). 

And I am not sure how I feel about that.  Part of my problem is that I tend to over-emphasize with Del Toro (a person I have never met, and vice versa) on the strength of his movies.  

I really–somewhat irrationally, I know–really want him to succeed despite there being little (other than having seen a well put together and interesting movie) benefit or incentive for me to feel that way. 

Though there’s also the feeling that so many lesser directors manage to be much more successful on top of  the list of projects he has either abandoned or never got to make (The Hobbit and At the Mountains of Madness come to mind though I’m still holding out for the latter) for various reasons. 

Though if anyone were to replace Del Toro, Steven DeKnight is a great choice (check him out on Twitter at @stevendeknight he’s interesting, opinionated and refreshingly free of bs and pretentiousness). 

Kind of like Del Toro himself. 

Annihilation – Trailer

I like this trailer a lot though what’s most interesting (at least to me) is that it reminded me of Gareth Edwards’ Monsters except unlike in the case of that movie stuff seems to actually happen.

Story-wise it looks like some sort of alien consciousness has arrived on Earth, with it’s presence seeming changing the planet in some very interesting ways (which is also similar to Edwards’ movie).

It appears to be trying to adapt Earth’s environment to one more comfortable for it, or is it a beginning of an invasion?

It also feels a bit like Arrival in that no one seems to understand why it’s there, and what’s it’s underlying purpose is.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure – Teaser Trailer

I saw The Maze Runner in theaters, and DESPISED it.   It wasn’t a bad movie, was visually attractive and for the most part competently-made.

So what’s the problem?

I found it terribly insulting at times–the glade the characters were in was surrounded by a huge wall, but in the very same scene you see a treehouse (implying that they could have built a structure, like a ladder, to climb it)–and just bland.

And that’s only one example of the insults to the intelligence that comes to mind, and that would be bad enough though to top it with the needless, bizarre, labyrinthine secrets of WCKD is just too much.

It’s needlessly elaborate and more than a little bit pointless.

And in case you don’t feel like reading..:

Isle of Dogs -Trailer

Screenshot 2017-09-21 12.54.32I literally don’t get all the love for Wes Anderson (that being said I have also never sat though a single one of his movies).

There’s something very elite, very pretentious about the man and his films that bothers me on an almost visceral level.

How dare a filmmaker not cater to the masses with more Transformers-like drek?  How dare he bring his own particular style and feeling that makes each of his movies unique?

And speaking of which, where’s the T&A?  All these movies with women being treated like…women is really disconcerting.

Here’s the trailer for Anderson’s latest, a stop-motion movie called Isle of Dogs (and I’m willing to bet that there aren’t any scantily-clad lady bottoms to be seen) from the director of The Fantastic Mr. Fox (which also didn’t have much in the way of scantily clad women).

 

Tomb Raider – Trailer

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I bet there’re a lot of people asking ‘Who asked for a Tomb Raider reboot?’

And the answer is ‘No one.’  Then again, who asked for new Star Wars films?  Star Trek?

The answer–while there are always people who would love to see more of these characters and the worlds they occupy–is also ‘No’ though the truth is Hollywood can care less what people ‘ask’ for and more what they’ll pay to see.

And Star Wars movies make gobs of money, no matter how plagued with difficulty they appear to be to actually produce.

Combine the tendency to tell people what it is they want to see with the profitability of Wonder Woman–also released by Warner Bros–with a new-found hunger for female-led action films and a reboot of Tomb Raider a no-brainer.