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.

Sony’s Bug Problem


And while spiders are arachnids, not bugs, bear with me and all come clear.

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes its North American debut today, and some pundits believe that it will ensnare an opening somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.  If this bears out it would make the movie the fourth of 2017–joining Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman–to reach that milestone.

Though–at least at the moment–Sony only plans to work with Marvel Studios on Homecoming and its sequel, and that’s problematic not only for that reason, but because they’re also planning movies based on Venom, Silver Sable and the Black Cat, all outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known as the MCU).

This is a terrible idea because one of the reasons Spider-Man: Honecoming is projected to do as well as it is is because Spider-Man is returning to the MCU, which people are interested in seeing, while Sony’s upcoming movies will likely not have this version of Spider-Man, if any at all.

As I said, it’s a problem because you’re not only taking away the context that Venom currently exists in–which is the MCU–you’re potentially taking away the reason Venom himself exists (the symbiont originally chose to bond with Spider-Man.  Only when it was rejected by him did it turn its attentions to Eddie Brock).

So Venom (as well as Silver Sable, Black Cat and whichever other Spiderverse characters they intend to use) existing outside the MCU is problematic.

Though without Spider-Man?

That’s more than a problem; that’s a disaster for Sony.  For Marvel?

Not so much, especially when you take into account that while they never actually needed Spider-Man he’s back (albeit temporarily) and the MCU version has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming and with three movies on the way (Avengers: Infinity War, an untitled Avengers movie as well as a sequel to Homecoming).

If Sony were smart–or smarter, after all they did have the foresight to cut this deal with Marvel Studios–they would ensure that the Spiderverse remain in the MCU with a deal a similar to that that they reached with Spider-Man (which would probably have Marvel Studios getting a cut of the box office, perhaps in exchange for contributing to the costs of production).

It’s certainly worth a thought.

Marvel’s Inhumans – Official Trailer 1

I have to admit that I liked the first trailer for Marvel Television’s upcoming Inhumans a lot more than I thought I would.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few problems. such as…

  1. Way too many guns.

Gun

The whole point of the Inhumans is that they have abilities that set them apart from regular humans (something another Marvel Television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  understands quite well)

Here? Not so much.

      2. (Too) Obvious Fan Service

Screenshot 2017-06-29 10.44.35

The woman pictured is Crystal, and as you can see from the image below, she looks a lot like the version of her character from the comics.  The problem is that that hair is too faithful to the comics, and doesn’t translate to an actual person very well almost pulling me out of the drama, instead of immersing me (as it should).

Screenshot 2017-06-29 11.02.08.png

       3. Lockjaw is Glorious!

Though all is not lost because Lockjaw (which should have been the most difficult idea to get across) looks absolutely glorious!  Though admittedly he’s not seen for long (and the transporting effect isn’t that great) when he does turn up, so did my smile.

Screenshot 2017-06-29 10.49.26

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Trailer 3

Cutting an effective trailer is a strange mix of art and science and too much of either can ruin it.

And they’re more important than you think.

Part of what saved Suicide Squad was the  trailer, which (unfortunatel) made promises the movie itself didn’t quite live up to, was so well-received by movie goers.

By the same token, they can give away plot points that might better be left uNSAIDs (such as when Doomsday was revealed in the Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice trailer).

Though just so no one thinks I am picking on the DCEU, there was a scene from the first Avengers when the Hulk saves Iron Man, who’s falling after having ‘delivered’ a nuclear weapon to the Chtauri.

It wasn’t a spoiler but it did reveal a scene that would have been better served seen first in the context of the movie.

And speaking of ‘scenes that would have been better served seen first in the context of the movie’ the trailers for Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures Spider-Man: Homecoming haven’t crossed the line into spoiler territory, but they have revealed moments that would perhaps be better served by not beight first seen in the trailer.

Such as learning that Spidey’s uniform is filled to the gills with Stark-tech.


It doesn’t break the movie to learn this in advance–besides, hints were laid out in Captain  America: Civil War that this is not your father’s Spider-Man costume, so it wasn’t a huge reach.

THough it would have still been a pleasant surprise NOT to know about it ahead of time.

Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2

I caught James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 last Saturday and what I found so impressive overall was the way Gunn managed so many stories and plot threats in a way that was not only cohesive, but made sense.

Because–and trust me on this–there are so many ways Guardians  could have easily collapsed under it’s own weight.

But it never does.

What’s almost equally impressive is the way everyone gets their own arc, without the movie feeling bloated or over-stuffed.

And Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 is so gorgeous, as if it’s not only not afraid to admit that the worlds depicted first appeared in comic books, but is proud of it.

And there’s not a cynical bone in the movie’s body, which is why when you see Baby Groot and Rocket you just go with it.

Because you know–on a level conscious or not–that Gunn believes in these characters as much, if not more, than you do.

Gunn’s World

It’s James Gunn’s world, we just happen to live in it.

Reason being, reviews of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 have begun to filter in, and they’re pretty good.

Though what’s interesting is that they’re not ALL that way, yet there’s not been a peep from either Marvel or Disney as a result.

This to me says that they have faith in the movie, which bodes well.

Another fortuitous sign is that James Gunn is returning to write and direct Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 3 which is sign that not only does Marvel Studios want him to return, but perhaps more importantly HE wants to return.

Kevin Feige also mentioned in a interview that Gunn could perhaps play a greater role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shepherding the ‘Cosmic’ side of things.

So, apparently it’s not only Gunn’s world, it’s Gunn’s universe as well!