The Accuracy Trap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Accuracy Trap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Adaptations in movies seem to be challenging our pre-existing ideas and expectations more and more. MovieBob looks at the difficulty in accepting the change.

Read Full Article

Oh gee willikers, a piece on why MCU is that good AND a video about why Spider-Man 3 isn't as bad as ASM fanboys say? Boy howdy, which Gods did I please?
No sarcasm in that, I'm genuinely glad to see both of these here. Thanks, Bob. I always found Spider-Man 3 not being nearly bad and it saddens and enrages me that the general public turned from praising the Raimi trilogy to hating it overnight.

Ghost Rider was a page perfect adaptation? Have you ever actually seen Blackheart?

"Where other filmmakers might have looked at these various licenses and said "This is all silly and it needs to change," they seem to say "We own this and we've watched it be successful and resonant already, so figure out how it did that in the first place and get as much of it up on-screen as possible.""

I almost feel like that's a direct contradiction of the previous point "Faithfulness is not always a good thing." I get what he's saying about the good adaptations "honoring the spirit" (a phrase which unfortunately has become a red flag for me), but it makes me wonder just HOW faithful something should be without the possibility of taking the material a new direction that redefines and strengthens the story. I still say there's a fantastic Street Fighter movie waiting to be made that can take from the (convoluted) plot of the games and other media and condense it into a solid meditation on good and evil and competition and balance and so many other things, all while featuring "faithful" costumes, move-sets, music, and all the other things that can initially draw people in the first place. And what about Zelda? Link is a non-entity as far as personality - he would need a massive overhaul that would end up coloring the rest of the story, but if he's shown talking, people will get pissed.

I can get behind this idea to a certain point.

I think it's much easier to gauge the accuracy of a book (a conventional book with lots of prose and little to no pictures) than a comic since, like I've said before, it subject to interpretation since different writers, artists, editors take the character in different directions, if not entirely different universes. So, I think since there is not really any definitive arcs of a comic book character (other than the massively popular ones), I think it's easier to interpret films on their own merit and just judge them on that. For example, Winter Soldier took some deviations from the original source material, but it still worked great as a film.

This whole 'subject to different interpretation' and 'universe reboots' are pretty much why I've stayed in the Shounen manga camp. At best, it's just the canon and the filler or a reboot of another anime (FMA:Brotherhood).

Wait, how is Movie Thor different from Lee & Kirby's original version? Besides him not turning into Donald Blake, I mean.

This line here...

MovieBob:
This sort of thing wouldn't bug me if it didn't start to metastasize into a willingness (an eagerness, even) to trade "revisionist but great" for "faithful but mediocre."

...is my new slogan. This is what exactly what got my goat about the Abrams Star Trek movies. I didn't want Abrams to just regurgitate what I loved about the franchise 20 or 30 years ago. I know there are things that made those shows work in their own time that wouldn't be as effective today. And I thought the whole "alternate timeline" setup of the 2009 film was done to give them that creative freedom: we're not shackled to the original franchise. (I would have preferred a clean break from the original, Galactica-style, but fine, I'll deal.) But no, they immediately tapped one of the franchise's universally acknowledged highlights in the most hamfisted and tone-deaf manner possible. I would have loved "revisionist but great" or even "revisionist but good". Instead I got "revisionistically faithful and crap".

Anyway, SFDebris tread similar ground from the other side in the intro to his recent review of Bay's Transformers (around the 6:17 mark), so I thought I'd post it here as a complement to your thoughts.

I think the problem is less about staying true to the source material and more about staying true to the themes that made the source material worth adapting in the first place. Tony Stark's thematic cruz was that he had everything someone could ever want but could never truly enjoy it because he had the Heart Attack of Damocles constantly hanging over his head. That Captain America arc that was an allegory for Watergate is a classic because it suggests we redefine what "America" is and means. From where I'm standing it seems like the MCU is actually failing with regard to adapting these themes, and the closest I can recall to this happening is actually from Iron Man 2.

Now that I think about it, Nolan's Batman Trilogy Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were straight-up Batman Films, not just movies with Batman in them. BB showed us how and why Wayne creating Batman would happen and TDK approaches how everyone would react to Batman and what "Batman" means in the first place. Sure there's a massive overhaul of "realism", but that's purely an aesthetic choice and I'd argue that Nolan's duology is a better adaptation of the classic themes than what the MCU's done so far *cough Hawkeye cough*.

Darth_Payn:
Wait, how is Movie Thor different from Lee & Kirby's original version? Besides him not turning into Donald Blake, I mean.

The Thor of the comics is different in many ways. He's an incredibly smart man (which isn't saying much in a comic book universe), he had two identities (not in the secret identity type of way, he was literally two people in one body when it started), he was much more of an asshole in the early years, and he has always been magnitudes of power stronger then in the movies (as have all Asgardians) to the point where he probably could have taken on the Chitari invasion on his own.

I think the qualm people have with the many changes is that often, as the case with any comic-book movie, the source material is so much better. They make changes that turn things to shit.

Darth_Payn:
Wait, how is Movie Thor different from Lee & Kirby's original version? Besides him not turning into Donald Blake, I mean.

Personality, powers, depth and looks to some extent.

Not to mention his speech. He's not the BIIIIG HAM that he was back then, now he's just sort of weird-British.

I'm surprised you didn't bring up Watchmen, the king of the faithfulness uber alles approach, which managed to end up just alright by essentially photocopying the source material but without an understanding of its underlying workings. I think that the real problem with the idea of fidelity making these movies successful is that it assumes that most of the audience know the source material (I know next to nothing about the cast of the Avengers in the comics and I watch Linkara's show).

Superhero comics are a pretty niche market, with about 300,000 regular readers in the United States, who if they each paid $9 a ticket would get you about $2.7 million. Iron Man 3 made $400 million in the US and $800 million outside of it and superhero comics are less popular outside the states (local material is especially more popular in non-english speaking countries). The only way fans can propel a movie anywhere near this kind of success is if it's something like Twilight which is read by pretty much every single person in its target demographic (in its case teen girls). Superhero comic fans would need to make up almost 10% of the population of the US to be a majority here. They only seem like that at times because they are very pervasive on the internet.

Also I wouldn't be too optimistic about Wondie, her first live-action screen appearance will be done by the director of Sucker Punch after all.

this, I love this, I've been making this argument for some time now. it's not that things have to be EXACTLY AS WE REMEMBER THEM AND NO CHANGE IS ALLOWED to please fans. it has to be true to the spirit, the message, the theme.

case in point, iron man 3 and captain America 2 both did at least 1 thing that was a drastic upheaval of continuity and basically threw out massive chunks of comic book lore to make their own movies. the iron man version of the mandarin is absolutely NOTHING like the comics version and for good reason, in the comics mandarin is by today's standards one of the most offensive Asian stereotypes you could come up with. and doing him this way as a red herring drunken ben kingsly is such a brilliant idea and knocked tons of comic book fans on their ass but we for the most part loved it. it was clever and for me it made the movie.

In general shield has been a totally different beast in the movies than in the comics, fury being hopeful and betting it all on the avengers initiative is unlike him. he has a very antagonistic relationship with all metahumans I mean cap and him having it out in cap 2 is the closest it's come to true depticion of their relationship. fury respects cap but that's really it. maria hill is the one who ordered captain America's arrest in the comics during civil war, she is dedicated to the shield way so much she's often depicted akin to Amanda waller from the animated justice league. extremely distrustful of any hero with more power than the government can keep in check. I laughed my ass off in cap 2 when maria hill of all people saved Captain America from shield.

these changes are all differences from the comics, the MCU has taken it's share of liberties with the source material but it's all true to the intent or spirit of the characters.

my other big thing is how marvel elevates the characters it does alter. the falcon being a good example, they took a character and kept his sense of fun and likeability but by making him a paratrooper they gave him a reason to have the wings and a reason to have the wings the way they are depicted instead of the sonic constructs and big red crazy suit. but my favorite example of MCU elevation is batroc. batroc the god damn leaper is the equivalent of X the eliminator from Harvey birdman or the rat catcher from batman. he's a footnote, a gag, a brightly colored stooge from when bionic legs was a super power. not only is he really good in captain America 2 his fight scene is one of the best in the movie. imagine instead of zod man of steel had used mister mxyzptlk and instead of a disappointment it was a glorious success. that is the level of awesome marvel pulled off with cap2.

Korastus:
Ghost Rider was a page perfect adaptation? Have you ever actually seen Blackheart?

I think he was talking more about how the actual Ghost Rider himself looked on screen. In which case yeah he looked like he was copy/pasted straight from the comic book.

This is an odd quip, but I feel like this article lacks a proper conclusion. It feels like it just stops and leaves more to be said.

Damned if I know what, though.

Zombie Badger:
I'm surprised you didn't bring up Watchmen, the king of the faithfulness uber alles approach, which managed to end up just alright by essentially photocopying the source material but without an understanding of its underlying workings. I think that the real problem with the idea of fidelity making these movies successful is that it assumes that most of the audience know the source material (I know next to nothing about the cast of the Avengers in the comics and I watch Linkara's show).

Superhero comics are a pretty niche market, with about 300,000 regular readers in the United States, who if they each paid $9 a ticket would get you about $2.7 million. Iron Man 3 made $400 million in the US and $800 million outside of it and superhero comics are less popular outside the states (local material is especially more popular in non-english speaking countries). The only way fans can propel a movie anywhere near this kind of success is if it's something like Twilight which is read by pretty much every single person in its target demographic (in its case teen girls). Superhero comic fans would need to make up almost 10% of the population of the US to be a majority here. They only seem like that at times because they are very pervasive on the internet.

Also I wouldn't be too optimistic about Wondie, her first live-action screen appearance will be done by the director of Sucker Punch after all.

But also the director of 300, Watchmen, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. Also Bob actually did a bit on Sucker Punch on his big picture show. It earned him the ire of many of his watchers because it was seen as a defense of the movie. Honestly I think the biggest problem with Man of Steel was Nolan. Goyer is hit and miss but Nolan isn't exactly someone I want to touch comic books beyond Batman. His films and his styles. Batman is the only superhero that Nolan can touch and do right. Any others though no. I know he just produced Man of Steel but I have a strange feeling he falls into the "creative producer" the one that has a lot of input into what goes in the movie.

KazeAizen:

But also the director of 300, Watchmen, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. Also Bob actually did a bit on Sucker Punch on his big picture show. It earned him the ire of many of his watchers because it was seen as a defense of the movie. Honestly I think the biggest problem with Man of Steel was Nolan. Goyer is hit and miss but Nolan isn't exactly someone I want to touch comic books beyond Batman. His films and his styles. Batman is the only superhero that Nolan can touch and do right. Any others though no. I know he just produced Man of Steel but I have a strange feeling he falls into the "creative producer" the one that has a lot of input into what goes in the movie.

I agree completely. Having Nolan do a Superman film is like making Frank Miller write a Superman comic. It's just not gonna come out right. Frank Miller does fantastic with characters like Batman or Dardevil but not so good outside his wheelhouse. Nolan should make a Daredevil film... I'd watch that

coheedswicked:

KazeAizen:

But also the director of 300, Watchmen, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. Also Bob actually did a bit on Sucker Punch on his big picture show. It earned him the ire of many of his watchers because it was seen as a defense of the movie. Honestly I think the biggest problem with Man of Steel was Nolan. Goyer is hit and miss but Nolan isn't exactly someone I want to touch comic books beyond Batman. His films and his styles. Batman is the only superhero that Nolan can touch and do right. Any others though no. I know he just produced Man of Steel but I have a strange feeling he falls into the "creative producer" the one that has a lot of input into what goes in the movie.

I agree completely. Having Nolan do a Superman film is like making Frank Miller write a Superman comic. It's just not gonna come out right. Frank Miller does fantastic with characters like Batman or Dardevil but not so good outside his wheelhouse. Nolan should make a Daredevil film... I'd watch that

Kind of makes me wonder who they got to direct the Daredevil Netflix series. Also beyond The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller just pisses me off. Its the only work of his I've been exposed too. Scratch that I've seen 300 so the only 2 works of his I've been exposed to. His version of Superman while I guess making sense in the context of that universe offends me and pisses me off to no end. Superman is my favorite hero and seeing him like that....>:(......chilling out. calming down. not dwelling. Personally I was surprised and glad with how good a job Zack did with Man of Steel but yeah I saw Nolan's prints all over it and while I'm glad he produced the movie just so Superman could finally have a modern movie in this golden age I really don't want him to touch the Man of Steel again.

Zombie Badger:

Superhero comics are a pretty niche market, with about 300,000 regular readers in the United States, who if they each paid $9 a ticket would get you about $2.7 million. Iron Man 3 made $400 million in the US and $800 million outside of it and superhero comics are less popular outside the states (local material is especially more popular in non-english speaking countries). The only way fans can propel a movie anywhere near this kind of success is if it's something like Twilight which is read by pretty much every single person in its target demographic (in its case teen girls). Superhero comic fans would need to make up almost 10% of the population of the US to be a majority here. They only seem like that at times because they are very pervasive on the internet.

See, now, to me, the reason the movies did so well is because they stripped away the ever growing cancer that was the 'need to know backstory' so people who didn't know anything about Iron Man could get into his story from the moment the movie starts. If you've read the comic, cool, good for you, but you don't need that massive encyclopedia of information to enjoy the movies. They simplified the characters while still keeping them complex. And because of that, more people are actually enjoying the movies, since they only have to know the movies, if that. And there's hints in the movies about the larger world the comics have built up, but they're not required reading.

I've been saying for some time now that you shouldn't do a thing solely to please the fans of a thing. And I'm going to point at Hasbro for a moment. But I'll try to keep it short. There was an episode where the studio decided they would officially name the poor wall-eyed animation error of a pegasus (who had already been named, mind you) and had one of the main characters call her by the fanon name for her. And, not even an hour later, there was a massive backlash against the name, because... well, the way I understand it, 'Derpy' Hooves is apparently ableist. So Hasbro took the episode off Itunes, rerecorded the one line to have her name be Ditzy Doo again, and put it back up, but bronies who liked 'Derpy' made another backlash, so Hasbro took it down again. And it's just ridiculous on all sides now. So, when Hasbro 'accidentally' let slip that Twilight was going to become a princess by the end of season 3? And the fans screamed bloody murder? And Hasbro did it anyway, because they'd seen what catering to the fans does?

This is what sticking exactly to the source material is, in my mind.

The ability to make changes in adaptations isn't easy to pinpoint. It helped with things like Iron Man and Thor precisely because they aren't super mega popular. They're fixtures, legacies, characters that almost never to big sales but are kept around because you do you can a character that's been around since the 60s consistently. It makes changes easier because we as a culture don't really have the attachment we've had to Superman or Spider-man, who we freak out if one's too quick to kill, and the other doesn't have mechanical web shooters.

In many ways, that's the thing: change is neither good or bad. It's a neutral thing that affects people differently that we call good if we like it and bad if we don't. Then like good spoiled children, we complain people on the other side are either too willing to accept or too afraid of change. So our ability to accept change starts with are we able to accept what something is changed to, or are we too eager to see such a change. Swapping out Hal Jordan for John Stewart pleases diversity fans sight unseen, while people not fans of John but of Hal, are left upset. Sometimes it's anal (organic web shooters) but sometimes it feels something got lost (the Mandarain might have been well done, but some of us we're looking forward to the battle with the guy with the super rings), and sometimes that can be our perception at fault (Nolan's Batman was closer to the noir roots of the character, but some really only know the Adam West version).

To disagree with something, I do think adaptations come from people that do want to see their favorite scenes in books and comics in full motion on the big screen (in addition to pandering and selling nostalgia) but also get a little too quick to put their own spin on things. Hallie Barrie's Catwoman was the published example of character in name only, and horror stories about what was coming out with that attempted "Death of Superman" film in the 90s to not at least fear people coming in to pass off their own vanity projects under an established name. We can't hold ourselves to the original, but people do come for something resembling the source, so I can only really say if changes are made, make them with care. No, not in the question of "is any change necessary, but rather "am I doing good in what I'm changing". Anything you alter will be under fire, it needs to be of decent quality to quell that flame once they see it.

KazeAizen:
But also the director of 300, Watchmen, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. Also Bob actually did a bit on Sucker Punch on his big picture show. It earned him the ire of many of his watchers because it was seen as a defense of the movie. Honestly I think the biggest problem with Man of Steel was Nolan. Goyer is hit and miss but Nolan isn't exactly someone I want to touch comic books beyond Batman. His films and his styles. Batman is the only superhero that Nolan can touch and do right. Any others though no. I know he just produced Man of Steel but I have a strange feeling he falls into the "creative producer" the one that has a lot of input into what goes in the movie.

My point regarding Wondie was regarding Snyder's idea of what makes a strong female character rather than his overall directorial skills, especially since he is co-writing the story this time. I did see Bob's bit on Sucker Punch and while I thought he had an interesting idea I do not believe Snyder is that clever; he always struck me as a visual stylist without much understanding of thematic development. Regarding Nolan and Man of Steel, in every interview with Snyder and Goyer I've read they both make it clear that Nolan helped come up with the plotline and then left them to their own devices, so the finished product is really the result of the pair trying to copy Nolan's style and failing. Also, nice avatar by the way.

KazeAizen:
...beyond The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller just pisses me off. Its the only work of his I've been exposed too. Scratch that I've seen 300 so the only 2 works of his I've been exposed to.

Frank Miller's come out with some real garbage (Holy Terror, ASBAR, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, etc), but if you haven't already, I'd recommend reading Batman: Year One and his run on Daredevil.

Zombie Badger:

KazeAizen:
But also the director of 300, Watchmen, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. Also Bob actually did a bit on Sucker Punch on his big picture show. It earned him the ire of many of his watchers because it was seen as a defense of the movie. Honestly I think the biggest problem with Man of Steel was Nolan. Goyer is hit and miss but Nolan isn't exactly someone I want to touch comic books beyond Batman. His films and his styles. Batman is the only superhero that Nolan can touch and do right. Any others though no. I know he just produced Man of Steel but I have a strange feeling he falls into the "creative producer" the one that has a lot of input into what goes in the movie.

My point regarding Wondie was regarding Snyder's idea of what makes a strong female character rather than his overall directorial skills, especially since he is co-writing the story this time. I did see Bob's bit on Sucker Punch and while I thought he had an interesting idea I do not believe Snyder is that clever; he always struck me as a visual stylist without much understanding of thematic development. Regarding Nolan and Man of Steel, in every interview with Snyder and Goyer I've read they both make it clear that Nolan helped come up with the plotline and then left them to their own devices, so the finished product is really the result of the pair trying to copy Nolan's style and failing. Also, nice avatar by the way.

Thanks. I...uh...like that movie....a lot.....

Snyder is definitely a visual stylist. Hell with Sucker Punch he proved that if someone wanted to take one of those over the top shounen anime and turn it into a movie you can do it. The shogun battle scene near the beginning was full of so many anime style fight cliches. I kind of got a contact high from watching it. I actually do like Sucker Punch myself.

I see. Even if it was that limited I do think Nolan should move on and they should get someone like Kevin Feige to produce. That is the thing DC is really missing. Someone like Kevin Feige. I mean under the right circumstances Snyder makes spectacular adaptations and he is more of a visual guy then Joss Whedon who is more or a clever dialogue guy. I get the feeling if Snyder stops trying to emulate Nolan the DC Cinematic Universe will take off. Also he's got Ben Affleck now who is a fan of comics so I have to believe he is at least consulting. While people scream doom and gloom on this whole Superman/Batman thing I'm cautiously optimistic. There is certainly no lack of talent in the cast or crew. I mean Ray Fisher and Gal Gadot are about the only question marks I have and even then Gal is in a proven action franchise and an ex Israeli soldier. So she might pull it off. I don't really know much about Ray. Its just a matter of getting all those pieces to fit.

TheRiddler:

KazeAizen:
...beyond The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller just pisses me off. Its the only work of his I've been exposed too. Scratch that I've seen 300 so the only 2 works of his I've been exposed to.

Frank Miller's come out with some real garbage (Holy Terror, ASBAR, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, etc), but if you haven't already, I'd recommend reading Batman: Year One and his run on Daredevil.

I've heard. I might get Batman: Year One and I will pick up a copy of The Dark Knight Returns but I really don't want to support him much beyond that. He's ground zero for a lot of over zealous Batfans and their attitude towards my favorite superhero of all time. Yeah call me whatever but Superman really is my favorite superhero. I'm a Batman fan as well so you can imagine how conflicting probably the most famous Batman story of all time is for me. :(

What Marvel does right (and what everyone else seems to struggle with) is that ephemeral concept of the spirit of a character or work. While I'm not sure the classic Tony Stark is as stodgy as Bob made him out to be (and the Ultimates version is every bit the RDJ character before RDJ was cast), the MCU Iron Man is very different than any comic counterpart to date. Even so, the core of Iron Man is a frivolous and selfish man growing into a serious and driven one. Captain America is about him being a good man, period. Thor is about fantastical courtly intrigue in Asgard and fish-out-of-water comedy on Earth while the titular character grapples with whether or not he is worthy, in general terms. Despite what some people might think, the details aren't that important, though they don't hurt.

Marvel nailed all of them... except the Hulk. They still struggle to find that core to the character, complicated by various iterations tend to be very confused about what that core is. Is the Hulk just a monster, or capable of heroism? Is he part of Banner that the accident unleashed or just a curse thrust upon him? Does he want to contain it or cure it? The Incredible Hulk dipped into the 70's TV series and suffered for it. He mostly worked in the Avengers by virtue of never being the actual focus of the film (and even then, I still have significant problems with how Whedon handled him).

Spider-Man, Batman, Superman have all been similarly confused. None of their studios seem capable of finding and sticking to that central core of the character (Guilt, Drive, Upstanding Morality) that define them. I think in each case the directors or the studios are "too cool for school", and would rather do their own thing (and sometimes that's entertaining in an Elseworlds kind of way, but not for long).

The only person who actually did this right outside of Marvel, I think, is Bryan Singer. His approach of Mutants as a Gay Rights allegory (as they were Civil Rights allegories in the past) really worked, at least when they weren't being ham-handed about it. It's too bad that they weren't so skilled at translating the individual characters (each with their own vibrant comic background) to the screen. Also, Singer sucks as an action director, so... there we are.

it is funny, I felt that 'Man of steel' was actually a pretty decent film adaptation of the comics, I say this as someone who has spent many years reading said comics and keeping up with the general evolution and development as the years go on.

Here is the thing, 'Man of steel' did the same thing that Marvel did with some of it's heroes in films but it was competing not with comics but the Christopher Reeve/Richard Donner films and that is honestly a bad comparison to draw as the Reeve/Donner films are pretty far from the mark no matter how good they are.

So, when Bob (and a number of others who share the same points of reference) watch 'Man of steel', they agonize over how "joyless" it is, how serious the whole thing has become, how violent the film is and how callously it regards the lives of those living in Metropolis and finally, how it all comes to a end.

The Reeve/Donner films were entirely different, they were going for a borderline comedic tone with a healthy splash of Norman Rockwell style Americana meets 70's New York style and it worked because that was the kind of film folks wanted at the time.

What 'Man of steel' did right was give us a Metropolis that is a bit closer to what we might find in a modern Superman comic, it gave us a pensive Clark Kent who is unsure of his own basic identity without making him unreasonably naive, he is a strong character that does not even need the suit to be interesting (something that Donner struggled with in his films).

What it also gave us was a origin story for Superman that made sense in the same way the 'Birthright' trade paperback made sense (and just as controversal apparently), Clark did not suddenly decide "I am going to be Superman and save the world and all it's occupants as my full time job", he had to ease into it, he puts on the suit but he is still NOT Superman, he does not reach that point really until the end.

That is the key here, many (Bob included) get so upset about bits and pieces of this film without really looking at how it all fits together, without seeing the world that is being created and the rather accurate (when compared to modern Superman comics) view of Superman as a character.

To me, 'Man of steel' is no different than Iron man (another comic character I have been reading since I was a little kid) or even Captain America (specifically 'The winter soldier'), it takes the ideas from the comics, figures out what works in film and makes it happen, the only difference is that it seems Marvel has gotten a bit of a "free pass" with it's films because most eager film-goers know NOTHING about the character in the comics, they have nothing to draw from, with 'Man of steel', they have the past Superman films and maybe, just maybe a handful of comics, as such, they tend to compare 'Man of steel' directly to the Reeve Superman films and complain when it is not exactly like those.

Seriously, read some modern Superman books and then watch 'Man of steel', you can see some specific elements that were pulled directly from various books and in my opinion, they worked.

Perhaps I am just annoyed because everyone seemed to love Nolan's Batman films until it became "cool" to complain about how "grimdark" or "edgy" they are, it was fine to make a bunch of Marvel films that are sometimes barely even close to the original characters (Thor, Iron man) but when 'Man of steel' does a pretty strong interpretation of modern Superman comics, it gets lambasted for doing what it needed to do to sell a story.

Before I hit post, I just want to quickly go over something, the massive amount of destruction in 'Man of steel' is frequently cited as a major flaw with the film, this makes no sense to me, I mean, if you look at the comics, Superman (and the Justice league) frequently get into battles that cause a ton of destruction, there are villains that kill a ton of folks in the DC universe and even Superman himself is capable of pretty much taking a city apart without really breaking a sweat.

So, with that in mind, why is it so hard to deal with a few rather violent and militaristic Kryptonians doing exactly what they are capable of (even in the comics) to a scale that actually makes sense. seriously, a fight between Superman and Kryptonians is not going to be the playful, slow motion affair (with more product placement than we saw in Man of steel BTW) that we got in the Donner films, it would be fast, massively destructive and many folks would actually die.

So, what is the problem? I don't really get it.

Bob talks about Marvel doing well because it took the core idea and did something really good with it without agonizing over the details and that is EXACTLY what 'Man of steel' did, sadly, it was doomed before anyone even saw it because it was never going to be exactly based on what many seemed to want (for some reason), the light hearted, golden age, comedy level Donner/Reeve films.

twosage:
What Marvel does right (and what everyone else seems to struggle with) is that ephemeral concept of the spirit of a character or work.

That is totally it. It's what works about most of the Marvel films, Raimi's Spider-man and the first Superman. I think the fans' attachment to characters looking like their comic book origins is because it's usually a good indicator of how much respect the film makers have for the source. All those films have that in common. If you don't respect it, then you'll fall at the first hurdle and make Batman and Robin. With the exception of Singer's X-Men, I can't think of a comic book film where the hero gets a new outfit design and the film is better than okay.

Superman is interesting to me in his hits and misses. Superman Returns tries to get it, but fails because it misses the most important thing about a Superman comic right from 1938, Superman doing incredible things. Easily the best parts of that film are when Superman is allowed to be Superman. Man of Steel trips because its almost pushing it too far the other way in trying to pull all the things about Superman that it's predecessor missed and loses that heart in the process. The reason Donner's Superman works is because it hits all those notes Singer was going for while also going for the greatest spectacle ("you'll believe a man can fly") he could at the time and works in Superman's unearthliness in a cool way too with his vision of Krypton.

Bob just surrounds himself with people that think like him, doesn't he?

Sure, I eventually got sick of Christopher Nolan's reimagined "realistic" Batman like a lot of folks did

No, Bob, "a lot of folks" didn't get sick of Batman...

I'll agree to an extent, but Iron Man 3's neglect of both faithfulness and greatness in exchange for mediocre-at-best revisionism still stings--relevant in that it's still part of the otherwise much lauded MCU. The abandonment of the fundamental ideas of the characters even if the aesthetic is spot on leads to a weird unpalatable dissonance. RDJ is a better Tony Stark than anything in the comics, because the comics version of the character is a flat, boring, predictable tool while RDJ's own past neatly aligns with that of the script and he made Tony Stark into the extravagant playboy who relished in the giggles of what he was doing. Andrew Garfield's snarking under his spandex is spot on for the character, but his performance is really lacking when it comes to the serious conflicts of responsibility that Spider-Man faces all the time. Conversely, the lack of the levity leaves McGuire's Spidey as a melodramatic mook who always seems like he's three seconds away from hating how awesome his abilities are.

On the other side of the board, we see the same issue. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were both essentially Batman movies. Everything about them was there to show off Batman--the upsides and the down. The Dark Knight Rises, however, was a movie that had someone who looked like Batman but an actual Batman character was largely absent. At the start of the movie, he hasn't been Batman in seven years, which means he's gone the better part of a decade not adhering to the "I am justice/vengeance/the night" that sits at the core of almost every Batman presentation (most notable exception offhand being Frank Miller's terrible drivel where all the justice stuff was thrown out to use the word "goddam" as if it were a vowel. ugh.). It's not just the desire to see him flounce about in his silly cape and body armor, he needs to be embodying all of the aspects of Batman's personality. I want to see the criminal ruthlessness, the duality of ego and alter ego (you know, how Batman is the real person and Bruce Wayne is just who happens to be under the mask), the psychological torment, the master detective, the world-class fighter, all of that. Lacking a piece or two or revising them might not diminish the character, but missing whole swaths of the character just leaves you wondering why you'd even name it after the character .

I'd like to go on record that I dislike the new look for the ninja turtles in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Not because they don't look like the comic book version or the cartoons or whatever the Internet is complaining about. I dislike them because they are butt-ass ugly. As in "Holy shit! This is some major uncanny valley territory the filmmakers journeyed into!". I'm serious. If there are news reports about little kids having severe nightmares from the look of the main characters (assuming the turles are the main characters and not the side characters, given Michael Bay is overseeing the production), I won't be surprised.

But, yeah, this is the slippery slope filmmakers have to overcome when it comes to revisiting a property like this. You don't want to be compared to what came before. You want your rendition to stand out as its own unique take of these characters and their world. That said, there has to be a point where you have to stop and ask yourself if you're deviating too far from the source material. For example, if your take on an iconic comic book character, who has become a living pop culture embodiment of truth, justice, and, depending on your preference, the American way over the past 75 years (Gee. I wonder who I'm talking about?!), and turn him into a more depressing version of Batman but with superpowers, ya done fucked up!

And this is not about making the characters look exactly like they just stepped off the comic pages. While I am glad Marvel Studios made sure their cinematic version of The Avengers stuck very close to their 616 Marvel Universe counterparts (OK, Hawkeye got saddled with his less-than-stellar Ultimate Marvel look. But, as Bob stated, 5 out of 6 ain't bad.), I'm not gonna get my dick in a knot over such things as the Mark 42 Iron Man armor or, a better example of costume deviation, the Green Goblin suit from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. Everyone complained that it looked like Power Ranger armor but I didn't mind how it looked. What I will confess is that I got pissed about Raimi's decision to give Spider-Man organic web shooters and not his traditional mechanical web shooters. Hell, I even signed the online petition that was going around during that time. But, as time as passed and I have matured in age (almost, not quite 100% maturity), I've come to understand that not everything is going to fully translate from the comic pages to the big screen. It's up to the vision of the director (or, in some cases, the arm-twisting whim of the studio) to pull this off and a lot of fans need to come to grips with that.

What fans should be concerned about is if the story is going to measure up. We've come a long way since Tim Burton's Batman and we have seen the best and worst of these films. Shouldn't we be demanding better storytelling from filmmakers and not get wrapped up over such trivial things like the costume being 100% accurate? The costume being true to its source material should be the bonus to a great movie, not its main feature.

The issue with Ghost Rider wasn't the faithfulness to the material so much. Comic movies outside Spider-Man just had not hit their stride. The effects weren't there and a point of moderation between cheese and realism simply had not been reached. So we get movies like Ghost Rider and Daredevil with floaty physics and computer effects that pulled you right out of the movie due to the characters looking too clean and the action shots simply not in any way believable. Somewhere between Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, minus Nicholas Cage (seriously, someone else should have had the title role) there is a serviceable movie to be made. As for the not-quite faithfulness to Thor's origin, the currently established canon is that Asgardians are aliens with lifespans in the thousands of years, not actual gods, a concept only realized in the pages of Earth X and not earlier IIRC. As you said, use what works, and for a modern audience, Clarke's third law is far more believable than anything more mythological.

Yeah I never go to movies expecting some comic accurate perfect version of what has already been done. Movies are meant to be the "realistic" and "believable" version of what is done in the comics to a degree so some of the dumber or sillier things in comics just don't work. I actually was quite annoyed with Caps outfit in Avengers because it looked so goofy and out of place compared to everyone elses costumes and yet hawkeye was taken in the complete opposite direction, being so simple and utilitary it took away from the spirit / feeling of the hawkeye character to the point he was less hawkeye to me and more just dood with bow. All it needed was some purple and that would have been better.

But yeah like bob said its a fine line and theirs always going to be things that work and things that don't. I'm a big Guardians of the Galaxy fanboy but I don't care about them getting everything right, the mere fact a movie adaptation exists at all still makes me giddy. God I hope its great and does well, one of my lifelong dreams is to see a character like Thanos in a movie and for him to work and be fantastic.

Bob, why the hate for the Hawkeye costume redesign? You know that they are using the Ultimate comics line as a reference for the movies and a few of the costumes have been modified from their original versions. Heck, other than the eye-patch Nick Fury doesn't look anything like the original version and you don't seem to have a problem with that.

irishda:
Bob just surrounds himself with people that think like him, doesn't he?

Sure, I eventually got sick of Christopher Nolan's reimagined "realistic" Batman like a lot of folks did

No, Bob, "a lot of folks" didn't get sick of Batman...

Actually you see this complaint pop up quite often nowadays. More than often enough for it to qualify as "a lot".

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here