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So The Wolverine recently came out and it creates the appropriate opportunity to dig into the continued craze of comic book movies.

 

I loved reading comic books as a kid and was a big fan of X-Men and Spider Man.  And overall, I think it has been great seeing these characters come to life in the movies.

 

That being said, from a movie standpoint, I much, much prefer the films that are more grounded in story and substance (Dark Knight) and dislike the movies that move into the silly realm or the fantasy realm.

 

What I say below may seem like sacrilege, but here we go:

 

– I was never a big fan of the Tim Burton Batman movies.  Sure Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson were fantastic.  But Gotham felt like I was in some sort of strange, surreal world.  I want Frank Miller, NOT Willy Wonka.

 

– I can say the same thing about the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies.  Less so Spider Man 2, but Spider Man 1 and Spider Man 3 border on the silly.  From the ridiculous Green Goblin costume to the Randy Macho Man Savage came, it’s ham city.

 Is this really necessary?

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– I didn’t like the Avengers.  I said it.  I didn’t like the 2nd highest grossing film of all time.  I liked parts of it, particularly the fun dialogue and cool performances.  And certainly the novelty of seeing all the characters together.  BUT, I really have no desire to see the Avengers fight some strange fantasy aliens.  And WHY, why do Aliens also have the worst plans for conquering earth?  Example – did the Aliens in “Signs” really think they could conquer Earth if they can’t touch water???  Our planet is 3/4 water!

So let me bring this back to The Wolverine.  I thought this was a great movie.  Yes it had some flaws and towards the end got a little over the top.  But this movie was much more character focused.  Great set up and great build of tension throughout.

 

Hugh Jackman definitely represented the iconic comic book character well – finally.  For years, I’ve been lamenting the fact that Dougray Scott – the originally intended Wolverine, fell off a damn motorcycle making Mission Impossible 2 and lost out on a huge career making opportunity.  He would have been fantastic.  But Hugh Jackman finally delivered on the Wolverine I wanted to see.  My only remaining issues are that 1) I don’t think we have ever really seen Wolverine in full berserk mode in any of the movies and 2) while James Mangold did a great job (making up for Knight & Day), Darren Aronofsky, the originally planned director, would have taken this to whole different level.  Maybe next time.

 

So that’s a lot of rambled thoughts on comic book movies.  Thoughts?

 

 

 

2 Responses to Wolverine and the State of Comic Book Movies

  1. John says:

    In a short post you left a lot to react to. I agree with a lot of what you said, let me start with where I differ.

    – Tim Burton Batman – it’s tough to judge it now, at the time, when I saw it in the theater I thought it was pretty incredible. Bear in mind we didn’t get very much of the “gritty” Frank Miller world back then – I would argue we still aren’t getting it, but I thought the original was a solid movie. And it took the overall Batman franchise in a new direction, from it’s very “camp” origins on TV. I will also say that it was the only solid offering from that entire franchise. Aren’t we all now biased by Burton’s work? Back then he hadn’t done nearly as much – I loved Bettlejuice so when I heard he had cast Michael Keaton for Batman I thought – this could be good, and I think it was in that first film. The Tim Burton of present day has so much baggage we can’t see the original Batman for what it was. That movie was such a big part of pop culture – everywhere you looked for a year all you saw was the Bat logo…

    – The Avengers – my first impression of this movie was positive, I enjoyed it in the theater. However here is where I start to agree with you, I watched it a second time on Netflix and I came to realize that this was a very flawed movie. When you remind us that this was the second highest box office of all time, it adds to the problem. This is basically the A-Rod of movies. And the reinforcement of the box office returns from the first movie virtually guarantees more of the same. Michael Bay is going to look like Martin Scorcese when Joss Whedon is done with this series…

    Here is where I agree

    – Wolverine was really solid, it surprised me. I did get lost in the end and I felt the plot was pretty predictable, but the performances and the character development were good. I completely agree that this was Jackman’s best rendition of Logan. It seems like the people that wrote and directed the Wolverine character before were sort of at a loss with how to capture him. The X-Men Origin: Wolverine was TERRIBLE, I respect what Benioff has done with GoT but I’m sorry I can’t find anything good about that movie. I have always felt that Bryan Singer was too Popcorn with the X-Men franchise, the Dougray Scott miss was part of that. Brett Ratner was actually better, in my book, but I still think that the stories got too childish. In short I think this is a franchise that will get a fresh look in a few years…there is a lot of story and character that hasn’t been touched.

    – I respect the hell out of Aranofsky – but as much as his name comes up in this genre I am not sure I see it. I think The Wrestler sort of approaches what we would be looking for in Logan, but as an overall storytelling style for the X-Men? Not sure. If you want to see the X-Men getting doped up on H and hallucinating math problems or Alter-Ego’s – Darren is your guy…

    This may be for another post, but if you look at the financial impact that this genre is having – it is becoming a substantial component to the current world of film. And when you look at what has been tapped into, we are probably closer to the beginning than the end. I think it merits further review to consider how much this genre has produced at the box office, with what has been released and what are the best opportunities ahead not only based on box, but also based on potential for great stories.

    Great post – glad to have you back on the scene again Lutz…

  2. Lutz says:

    Tim Burton Batman Movies: Okay, good point about enjoying the movie at the time you saw it. For that matter, I distinctly remember dragging my dad to the following movie in the theater and also enjoying it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085756/. I kid you not.

    I do agree that the movie was everywhere at the time. A true pop cultural phenomenon. I also remember Michael Keaton being a fairly controversial casting choice and I understand that Jack Nicholson still reaps huge rewards for ANY Batman movie being made. I’m interested to know if this is still true.

    Wolverine: I didn’t know that much about Benioff’s writing (aside from GoT) before you mentioned it. Interesting to see he wrote the screenplays for Origins Wolverine and Troy. He also wrote the book/screenplay for the 25th Hour. For Origins Wolverine, not much is redeemable, but in general I think I would put more of the fault on bad direction vs. writing. I’ll also say I loathe X-Men Last Stand. Brett Ratner lowered the bar significantly. I also think X-Men First Class was a solid “B” rating primarily driven off of Michael Fassbender. This guy can do no wrong.

    Interesting for you to mention the financial impact of comic movies. While I think there is a ton of money still in the future, I think the biggest characters are clearly on the screen already. I’m very interested to see how Guardians of the Galaxy performs…

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