MovieBob - Intermission
The Accuracy Trap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 2 May 2014 16:00
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Iron Man Armour - Movie

So, this week's big new movie is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which I've already reviewed and would prefer, for the sake of my blood pressure, to not dwell upon any longer than necessary. But, between this and giving in to the Mystery Box Marketing Machine by pretending that a photo of various people sitting in a circle is innately newsworthy beyond "Here's a thing that happened!" ... blegh. Okay, let's talk about some funnybook movies.

These days pretty much every major movie seems to be some kind of adaptation of this or that preexisting material, and while I don't necessarily think that's the end of the world or even the medium it does unquestionably present certain challenges for those of us on the reporting/critiquing end of the system. Pre-existing material means pre-existing ideas and expectations, and if your perspective wasn't in some way colored by those things (assuming you have them in the first place) I don't know what kind of human being you'd be. For the most part, adults can generally see past that sort of thing - particularly if that happens to be your job, as it is in my case - but a thing that's there is a thing that's there.

Let's face it: The reason to do remakes and reboots and adaptations in the first place is to sell tickets based on people's fond memories and/or emotional attachments to the material. And while movie studios are always looking to put a fresh stamp or a new "spin" on famous characters (for business reasons as often as for filmmakers' aesthetic taste - you want people to buy the new tie-in merchandise, not the stuff they might already have) they've also wised up pretty quick to the idea that an easy way to turn a fanbase immediately receptive is to match their expectations in some way. The original Iron Man trailer that so famously tore the roof of SDCC did so in no small part simply because it was able to deliver an Iron Man who looked like he'd stepped out of a comic book and onto the screen.

On the flip side, while Man of Steel is widely regarded as a disappointment (though hardly a "failure" in the box-office sense,) it's certainly true that at least some poorly-prioritized fans were predisposed to nitpick it because (of all reasons) Superman showed up sans his traditional red shorts. While the Michael Bay-produced Ninja Turtles do-over has been one of the industry's most famously troubled productions for a few years now (at one point shutting down completely after the leak of a widely-derided screenplay draft) discussion of its trailers has focused overwhelmingly on whether or not the title characters new human-like noses are an inappropriate design decision. These things happen.

This has created a pair of reader/critic/other-critics dynamics that would be sociologically interesting if they weren't also so practically irritating. The first being The Internet's impressive ability to redefine rather specific phrases/concepts like "bias," "prejudice" or "blind spots" as all now meaning "A person has engaged in conscious thought at some point before viewing a movie in question" and that somehow being damning "evidence" either of nefarious intent or intellectual-impairment. Heaven help the journalist who has made publically known a single opinion about any topic that might even indirectly be connected to the subject of a given criticism, for they will - in the best case scenario - be immediately found "untrustworthy." The worst case scenario? They'll be implicated in some kind of shady dealings ranging from simple bribery ("How much did so-and-so's competition pay you for this hit-job???") to elaborate conspiracy theory.

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