Thursday, October 15, 2015

Are Comic Book Films Just a Fad or Trend?

Today, we're going to take some time out and talk about a statement getting bandied about like it's true simply because some people believe it to be so. That statement being that comic books films, as a trend, are going to go away in the near future. While this isn't directly horror related, it does manage to highlight one of the scariest things in modern society: misinformed people spouting off without any sort of research about things they know very little about. I'm not saying that's a new thing, by any means, but it is something that has gotten so much more prevalent in the modern atmosphere of internet anonymity.

"I know shit about shit and stuff, dawg!"

What I'm going to do today is simple. I'm going to make a declaration and then I am going to illustrate with facts that my declaration is based on more reality that opinion. Comic book movies are not a fad or trend and saying they are is ignorant. Everyone good and pissed off at me now? Wonderful, let's proceed. First, let's talk about comic books. They, like movies, are an art form that has brought many creative people together to let loose their creative visions on the populace. Comics come from all over the world and have many different names based on the locales. But do you know what else they have? Genres. Comic books are not about just any one thing, but can rather be about pretty much anything.


Medieval love stories, slackers getting their life together, samurai rabbits, undead gunfighters, monster hunters, or young Muslim superheroines living in Jersey.
See that pile of books? Yeah, those are comics I own. When I look at the vast collection of comics I own, they comprise so many different styles and genres that it is staggering. In a big way, they're very much exactly like movies. That's why it's no big shock that the two often crossover so often. But here's where we get to the crux of the ignorance in the statement that brings us all here today. When these people say "comic book movies are a fad that is going to go away" they aren't actually talking about comic book movies, but are rather talking about a segment of comic book movies. To them, there is no difference because this segment of the comic book to film equation also generally comprises their knowledge of comic books in general. They're talking about superhero movies.

You know, these things right here that have been making lots of money and continue to do so.
This is a troublesome line of thinking that is so depressingly prevalent in our society that it makes my soul itch when I think about it too hard. Let me spell out for you: not all comic books are about superheroes. I'm sure a number of my beautiful readers out there already know this very well. But we are not everyone and in the mainstream eye, superheroes and comics are the same. The fact is that many high-grossing and critically acclaimed comic book films have nothing at all to do with capes and costumes. Sure, the most popular a famous ones do, but not all of them. A not too old and rather fresh example is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It's based on a popular comic series by Bryan Lee O'Malley and is all about the strange adventures of a slacker who is trying to be with the girl he loves by doing battle with her seven evil exes. Scott Pilgrim isn't a superhero. He's just a guy who has a fairly strange life involving heart swords and ninja lesbians.

Yes, Scott, she had a same sex relationship. It's not that weird. Everything else is pretty weird though.
Another fairly recent example is Snowpiercer, a post-apocalyptic story about the last of humanity living out their life on a train that never stops. It's based on a French comic published in 1982. I could probably blow your mind with how many films are comic book based that you never realized were. Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, From Hell, 30 Days of Night, Oldboy, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Oblivion, V for Vendetta, The Losers, Whiteout, Tales From the Crypt, Barbarella,  2 Guns, Art School Confidential, Bullet to the Head, American Splendor, Ghost World, Ichi the Killer, 300...look at that fucking list. That's not even all of them. Not a superhero film in the lot there either. Weird how that works, right? Almost like superheroes don't represent the entirety of comic based media, yes?

"Is what the penniless writer saying true? And when are you going to get me more apples?"
But see, even if they actually did specify that superhero films are a simple fad that will go away, that too would be a statement of questionable reality. Superhero based films are not a new thing, going all the way back to the era when black and white serials featured Captain America and Batman. There's also the fact that not all superhero films are even based on comics at all, such Hancock or The Incredibles. Superhero based films are, and have been, doing fairly well in recent years, yes. that is a true statement. And that has influenced more superhero based films to go into production, as there is clearly some money to be made. But see, that's not a new thing. The people who treat it like it is are ignoring the fact that they're wrong because superhero movies of the past haven't always been of the best quality.

"What's that supposed to mean, huh? You want me to take you on? I'll meet you on the court!"
As Shaq illustrates in the above picture, superhero movies can be awful and have been so on many occasions. Some people seem to forget that in a film genre there are varying degrees of quality. And make no mistake, superhero films have indeed become a genre at this point. The attitude is that, since there was such a large influx of successful superhero films and there are now some that are less successful, it somehow means a downward spiral that will lead to the end of "trend". Now tell me, are romantic comedies a trend? How about independent films? Horror movies? Big budget action films that make Michael Bay hard as a rock? Because you can open your mouth and claim anything popular is simply a trend or a fad. The problem is that saying something doesn't make it automatically true without proper evidence to back it up. And if the vast majority of these people cannot separate the lines between what is a superhero film and what is a comic book film, how can they be expected to bother with facts?

Fact finding is too hard and really takes away from watching quality movies that make fun of things without being funny.
So, are comic book based films a fad or trend? No. Are superhero based films a fad or trend? No. Are superhero based films popular right now? Yes. Will they taper off at some point? Probably, yeah. But that doesn't mean they're going to go away or stop, nor does it make them a fad. A fad is something like a slap bracelet or a fanny pack. It's a silly thing that people get into for a while that gradually fades away only to possibly return one day as an ironic fashion statement. Superhero films are a genre now, whether Steven Spielberg likes it or not. Genres don't go away, they evolve and change. New creators come into them and make works that stand out and grab people, they push limits, they do new things. They make stories about a guy fighting crime with a large wrench or a man losing all his ability to feel pain stalking the night to fight the people who ruined his life. Superheroes aren't going anywhere, either in film or in print. They're here to stay. And no amount of shitty movies can change that. Trust me, if it could then we wouldn't have such a large selection of horror movies to choose from.

If Eli Roth can't kill the genre, no one can.
If you see someone spouting off about how superhero films are on their last leg just because they didn't like a few, send them here. Let them read all of these words and then get down to this very next sentence. Hey, you, the person sitting there feeling either stupid after realizing how wrong you are...or blistering smug because that's how big your ego is and you refuse to admit when you're wrong. You're a jackass and I am begging you not to procreate. See how nice I'm being there? Because I am treating you like someone might actually want to have sexual relations with you. Did that hurt your feelings? Sorry, I really don't care. I save my caring for people who have interesting things to say and don't just pull opinions from their asses touting them about as facts. What's that? You say that I'm merely stating my opinion regarding superhero films and not basing my argument on any facts? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...oh, you! Wow, I have to catch my breath. See, remember when I brought up Steel, the Shaquille O'Neal film based on the DC Comics superhero of the same name?

The movie where Shaq has a literal hammer gun and quotes MC Hammer at one point.
That is important to remember, because it's also a part of why I am right. That movie was awful. It's fun to watch and mock, but it's still awful. It was a terrible superhero film that came out and underwhelmed audiences everywhere. And guess what? There were other superhero movies made after it. Between 1997 and 2000, there were fourteen superhero films made here in the states. Not all of them were massive successes, but some did exceptionally well. X-Men, Blade, The Mask of Zorro, and Unbreakable all made quite large profits. Before Steel, there were other superhero films too, of varying degrees of quality. The bad ones never stopped the genre from existing though, no matter how bad any one movie got. As a matter of fact, here in the United States of America there were superhero films made every single year from 1986 to 2000. Think about that. That's fourty-nine films, if my math is correct. That's just the films made here, in this country, during a span of fifteen years. Fifteen years! And these were movies made when Hollywood didn't care about superheroes.

Which does show on some of them, I will admit.
The genre kept going though, both here and internationally. Quality has never killed any film genre. Neither has bad writing, terrible characterization, sexism, nudity, scenes of extreme violence, or romantic pairings that a lot of people just didn't dig. Do I care if Black Widow and Hulk are an item or not? Nope. Do I think that them being one somehow means she's less of a badass character? Nope. But a lot of other people have strong opinions regarding that and some people are using those opinions as fuel for this big stupid fire.

I guess having two damaged people who think of themselves as monsters fall in love is a hard pill to swallow.
They're also using the fact that 20th Century Fox's latest superhero film bombed as kindling, stoking those flames and trying to spread the burn. But then I point you back to Steel, a movie that also bombed and also had people claiming it was the beginning of the end for superhero films. Guess what? They were wrong. It was nothing but a bunch of guessing from people who didn't bother trying to look past one or even a few missteps. There will always be bad movies, including bad superhero movies, and that's just something you're all going to have to live with. Not everything is gonna be a winner. But that's fine, it gives assholes like me something to rip on. Later days, bleeders.

It always helps if the superhero film doesn't feel like a horror movie though. Just a tip for you filmmakers.

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