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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Is Apple 00Crazy!?

I just read in The Hollywood Reporter that Apple is reportedly vying for the rights to distribute James Bond (along with Amazon, Sony and Warner Bros) movies, which I am trying to get my head around.

Now keep in mind such a move would likely give Apple exclusive access to Bond’s entire back catalog (as well as future releases) though doesn’t Apple–via iTunes–already have this (on an unexclusive basis)?

It’s worthy repeating that Apple isn’t buying the right to produce Bond movies (that would be a serious coup) but the right to distribute them, though seeing that movie theaters will continue to be with us (though perhaps the window from theaters to digital would shorten) there would have to be a considerable effort to expand to other media; a risky effort because not only would you have to be not only concerned about the failure of a particular venture, but of diluting or damaging the franchise as well).

After all, do you remember a cartoon called James Bond Jr (Nor does anyone else; that’s not a bad thing if you’re able to digest the uber-cheesy theme song)?

I suspect part of what makes James Bond such an institution is it’s exclusivity, which seemingly would directly conflict with Apple’s (and Amazon’s long-term plans).

Besides, if Apple Apple really wanted content, they could relatively easily buy a film studio.

Scorsese Joker Project: Proof The DCEU Remains Broken

For those of us who thought that the greatest problem with the DCEU (the DC Extended Universe) was Zach Snyder’s stewardship, you were right (sort of).

Though to be fair, that’s like blaming the small (relatively speaking) bit of iceberg that remained above the surface for sinking the Titanic.

Reason being, some executive(s) okayed Snyder’s approach, which is the real issue.

I bring it up because there’s talk of a Joker origin movie that seems to exist outside the DCEU (essentially an Elseworlds-type of story).  And this is a problem because–while Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies were popular, they existed outside the DCEU, which means that everything that this new movie establishes will likely not be a part of the current universe as well.

And there are so many different DCEU’s as it is.  There’s the version that exists in movies, which has finally begun to gain traction with Wonder Woman.  Then there’s the DCEU as it exists on television, which shares characters like the Flash and Superman.

Now there’s what I call the Elseworlds DCEU, that takes characters people are aware of, and places them outside the universe proper.

This is where the Nolan Batman movies reside

If you’re a comic reader, the latter scenario I mentioned is hardly an unusual one (Marvel Comics had their own take on stories based in an alternative Marvel Universe called What if… ) but moviegoers might find it a bit confusing.

Though what’s worse is that the DCEU has failed to establish their mainstream characters with anything resembling consistency, so now they’re creating alternative takes, seemingly independent of the greater DCEU!?

Such a move may be profitable in the short term, but it does not bode well for the DCEU as a whole.

The DCEU Finds Redemption

There a story on Superherohype where Ben Affleck says that the portrayal of Batman in Warner Bros/DC Films upcoming Justice League would be a more ‘traditional’ portrayal of the character.

What!?

The fact that Affleck has to tell viewers this is indicative of perhaps the greatest problem the DCEU has (yet) to overcome: namely a loss of support from their core audience, which are the people who grew up reading the comics these characters first appeared in.

Which is such a weird place to be because it’s a problem of their own making in that all they needed to do was to make their superheroes more faithful (I understand that no character translates wholly intact from the printed page to the movie screen but it’s almost as if Warner Bros wasn’t even trying) to how the characters appeared in the comics, then literally sit back and rake in the cash.

But if Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have shown us anything, it’s seemingly not quite that easy.

Or does it?  Maybe the greatest problem with the three aforementioned movies has less to do with their their fidelity to the source material (though that’s certainly there) than an attempt to be visually and esthetically different from Marvel Studios.

And on some level that’s understandable.  What isn’t is creating such an esthetically and morally unappealing interpretation of Batman and Superman (though what’s worse is that there’s nothing wrong with such portrayals per se.  It’s more a question of starting with a more traditional interpretation then have events turn the character dystopic–which was said, but never shown in reference to Batman).

That’s an important journey viewers would have not enjoyed embarking on, and would have shown the seminal events that resulted in a murderous Batman (something the character studiously avoided during for the bulk of time he has existed).

Wonder Woman–for the DCEU–is literally a game changer in that it not appears more faithful to the comics than the aforementioned movies, yet managed to appeal to both critics and the bulk of the moviegoing audience.

It may not have quite restored faith in the fledgling cinematic universe that is the DCEU

‘IT’ – Official Trailer #2

The latest trailer for Stephen King’s IT dropped a few hours ago, and the first thing I wondered when I saw if was if IT was also a part of the Stranger Things universe.

Both feature Finn Wolfhard, both revolve around a group of young people on the cusp of the adult world–and the secrets that it holds–facing bullies and their demons (both real and imagined).

And perhaps most importantly, both revolve around either the supernatural or things than can be easily interpreted as such (the Upsidedown from Stranger Things is approached in a more overtly scientific fashion than the terrors of IT but that’s less a question of the former not being supernatural than the approach to it being based in science).

Though the more likely explanation for the similarities is that Stranger Things is very much based on the work of Stephen King and movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter (particularly Carpenter, as far as the music and whole esthetic goes), so that it resembles a Stephen King movie is hardly a coincidence.

Zach Snyder and the Island of Ill-Concieved Ideas 

It seems that finally Zach Snyder has fallen out of favor at Warner Bros, though my question is why it took so long to happen.   Keep in mind while he’s overseen produced no flops while the creative force behind the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) though what he has done was produce three movies–Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad–that were extremely devisive as far as the perceptions of critics and movie goers.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include Wonder Woman, the best received DCEU movie (and on track to being the most profitable) yet?  That’s no accident.  Snyder’s star has been in it’s descendecy for quite awhile, and Wonder Woman was the first movie produced with a new management team in place.

And the worse thing is that I don’t necessarily blame Snyder.  Warner Bros management (at the time) should have taken his ideas for a murderous Batman and an apathetic Superman and thrown them onto the Island of Really Ill-Conceived Ideas where they belonged, as opposed to entertaining them as as they did.

Blade Runner 2049 – Trailer 2

The latest trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049–a pretty terrible title, by the way–a few hours ago and so far reminds me less of Ridley Scott’s original and more than Peter Hyams’ 2010 in that it appears to take the most important elements of the original (Harrison Ford, replicants, a neon-bright skyscraper, a whiff of conspiracy) and makes them more palatable for general audiences.

That was what 2010 did as well, namely taking Stanley Kubrick’s cold and analytical 2001: A Space Odyssey and preserving its themes and ideas, while recasting them in a way that–while still challenging–was more narratively traditional and just easier to like.