Black Widow Will Be A Huge Hit (If A Few Things Are Taken Into Account)

imageThe upcoming Black Widow movie has a lot going for it–2017’s Wonder Woman has proven that a female-led superhero movie can not only be profitable, but revered bay both critics and moviegoers alike–but that doesn’t mean that it should take some very significant advantages for granted.

First there’s Scarlett Johannson, who’s shown with 2014’s Lucy that a movie can be built around her successfully (it was essentially a ‘secret’ superhero movie in the same way Unbreakable and even 1980’s Altered States were, if you think about it).

Then there’s the fact that it’s coming from Marvel Studios, who seemingly don’t know how to make a bad movie

But pride comes before a fall, so to ensure that that doesn’t happen, here’s what the producers could do to minimize the odds.

  • Consider a Guest Appearance 

Johannson’s Black Widow is a great character, but imagine how jazzed fans would be to know Captain America or Hawkeye were going to show up (and I know, some contracts are expiring, but if Evans’ enthusiasm for the characer is any indicator he’d likely turn up in a heartbeat).

And speaking of costs, if you recall Avengers: Age of Ultron, there was a scene Black Widow and Hawkeye were talking about ‘Budapest’ and what happened there.  Now imagine a adventure featuring them both, taking place in the past and perhaps revolving around the organization known as A.I.M (Advanced Idea Mechanics, who were sort of teased in Iron Man 3).

It would be in the Winter Soldier vein, and could be very awesome and gritty. 

  • Control Costs

Part of the problem with DC Films–and Zach Snyder in particular–is that their movies are relatively expensive, compared to Marvel Studios, which is why they tend to make middling profits (by way of illustration, Justice League cost somewhere in the ballpark of $250 million before the Joss Whedon-helmed reshoots.  Having seen it I’m not entirely sure where that money went, but it wasn’t on screen).

And speaking of costs, during Avengers: Age of Ultron Black Widow and Hawkeye were reminiscing about ‘Budapest.’

Suppose Black Widow was the movie about that particular incident?  I have no idea what the actual movie will be about, but it would be pretty cool to see a Jason Bourne-type adventure featuring Black Widow and Hawkeye for no more than 80-$100 million?

Such a, relatively speaking, low-cost action movie would likely turn a profit in a week, if not days. 

  • Not to Belabor the Obvious, But Make an Entertaining Movie First

Black Widow’s movie needs to be entertaining in and of itself, instead of having a female lead be it’s primary draw.  If it becomes the latest feminist cause cèlébre it runs the risk of alienating a huge swath of their potential audience.

Now, the producers of the movie can embrace every one of the above steps and the movie still under performs, though I think that’s highly unlikely.

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Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets – Poster

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Lucy Besson, while a visually sumptuous director, is not a terribly original writer–which may have a little to do with him settling with John Carpenter over his 2012 movie Lockout, which was essentially Escape From New York aboard a space station.

Lucy, directed by Besson in 2014, fared particularly well financially, though many considered the story (about a woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, who though a mysterious drug gains the ability to unlock the unused potential of the human mind and gain god-like powers) as particularly dopey.

He’s back in 2017 with Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets–a title that on its face doesn’t make sense–that’s based on a French comic series by Jean-Claude Méziéres.

I hope it does well mainly because many European comics don’t get nearly the recognition here that they do there, and it would be good for people to expand their knowledge of such things beyond what we see presented by Marvel Studios and DC Films.

Why Marvel Needs To Take Its Time Jumping On The Female Superhero Movie Bandwagon

I have written on women superheroes in movies in the past, and thought that it was a topic worth revisiting, especially since some have decided that Marvel Studios somehow has a duty to make a feature with a female lead.

Which is nonsense, but don’t get me wrong, inclusiveness is a great thing. All of us need to be able to see ourselves in the various superhero universes out there because they serve to not only inspire us, but as a reminder that reminder that we’re part of something greater than ourselves.

But there’s one problem with that thesis: Hollywood is driven not by altruism, but by money. If superhero films featuring women were successful, I guarantee you that every studio would be making them.

And it’s not rocket science as to why such films aren’t more common, which is because they have, so far, been failures at the box office.

For a prime example why Marvel should take their time, let’s look to 2004, when Warner Bros released Catwoman.  It was a failure, earning $80 million on a $100 million budget. And truth be told that was $80 million more than the movie deserved (Though Halle Berry was so classy that she actually attended the 2005 Golden Raspberry Awards–also known as “The Razzies“–where Catwoman “won” in the Worse Picture category).

And the thing is, I don’t blame Pitof, who directed, or Berry’s performance in the title role (though the ‘tuna’ scene was a bit obvious and silly).

Heck, I don’t even blame Theresa RebeckMichael Ferris or John Brancato, who wrote it.

I blame whichever executives at Warner Bros who green-lit the project because alarm bells should have immediately gone off when it was learned that the main character, Patience Phillips (Berry) was ‘Catwoman’ in name only.  Her origins had very little to do with the comics that inspired her creation.  Now, I understand that executives may have wanted to go in a different direction after Catwoman made an appearance in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns–who portrayed the character as a bit too damaged–but to go so totally in the opposite direction tonally was a bit of an over-correction.

As if the Titanic, in a effort to miss a a small sheet of ice, ran smack-dab into the iceberg.

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‘Peanuts’ Trailer

While I can’t speak for anyone else, Charles Schulz‘s “Peanuts” have always had a comforting quality to me.  They weren’t cartoons that I enjoyed on a regular basis, but the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, were made for them.

They also had this oddly melancholy character about them that was interesting and unlike anything else.  I have particularly fond remembrances of “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” in which we witness Linus waiting in a pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin, behavior that was oddly delusional for a children’s cartoon character and “Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown” where we witness Snoopy’s prowess riding a motorcycle, Easy Rider style.

Then there’s Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, always a classic (though I always hoped that, at least once, either Charlie Brown kicked the football, or her).

The animation of the new feature seems to be in 3D, but barely, which is a good thing since it better takes into account the essentially 2D nature of the characters.