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Tuesday, January 14, 2014 

Hollywood.Com asks if Marvel fans are "losing grip" on movies

Hollywood.Com has been writing about the Marvel movie adaptations, and asks if comic fans are losing their grip on the Marvel movieverse, which doesn't sound very respectful, and their perceptions aren't very accurate either:
While we've seen broad audiences take to superhero flicks since Spider-Man and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man represent a league of superhero flicks that have, up until now, thrived on small but devoted communities of comic book fandom. The announcement of their film adaptations sparked tiny bursts of glee, but also questions: how are they going to do this right? Guardians and Ant-Man are especially weird properties that A) wouldn't appeal to Avengers-sized audiences as is, but B) would outrage the established fans were it to reform toward general palatability. We can't assume just by the casting of Rudd and Douglas that Ant-Man is going the Hollywood angle, but we can wonder exactly what it has up its sleeve.

Iron Man 3 presents a good example of the concerns of die hard (not Die Hard fans though — they probably loved Iron Man 3, which is exactly what we're talking about). The third chapter for Tony Stark, handled by action-comedy kingpin Shane Black, transformed the genre of the Robert Downey Jr. trilogy into something like that which you'd see in his Lethal Weapon scripts, or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. And to those not stringently adhered to the Iron Man mythology, the movie was fantastic. Fun, goofy, malleable, creative, and hilarious. To those who wanted the Mandarin and Extremis they knew from the comics, it was... enraging.
Some may have loved the 3rd Iron Man movie, but not all, thanks to the politics that intruded upon the screenplay. The kowtowing by the producers to the Chinese commies was just one of the minuses. I'm sorry, but the way it was handled was as much a cheat for movie audiences as it was for comic audiences. If the filmgoers knew the Mandarin was far more prominent and formidable in the comics than he was in the movie, they'd surely wonder why he was reduced to such a joke. Hollywood.Com doesn't make clear why fans would be so galled, neither from historical nor political perspectives.

The claim movies based on lesser known heroes and series thrived on comics communities is a pretty weak one, because Ghost Rider's sequel certainly didn't. Nor did the Daredevil and Elektra movies. Even those require a much bigger audience to make bank, and that didn't happen. It all depends on the quality of the script. That's why the Blade movie from 1998 - the first real breakthrough for mainstream Marvel movies - was a success in its time (though the sequel wasn't).
But more even than the issue of contextual changes is that of the sense of the aforementioned communities of comic book fandom. There is something special about being part of a small union of like-minded, unappreciated folk — e.g., being one of the few who hopped on the Arrested Development bandwagon before the series got its post cancelation hop-ons (but to be fair, you're gonna get some hop-ons). This adherence to exclusivity, this "I was into it before everyone else" mentality, they're not entirely healthy or condusive to authentic appreciation of a piece of art. But the phenomenon was born from necessity: way back when geekiness of all sorts was brandished and those belonging to said genus were ostracized (you know, in that long dead era known as high school), it was the very idea of finding others like you and reveling in your elite appreciation for some piece of underdog genius. It helped many of us get through tough times. Love for comic books, specifically — and what's more, the idea that you were one of a small, special, unique force of "superhuman" devotees — charged some much-needed positive vibes. And although we all should be more than willing to open up our beloved titles and characters to the world, there is always that hesitation. Does Marvel expanding its reach to everyone, does everyone's appreciation of what you once held dear and sacred make it less so? Do these stories about "different" people need to be read and loved only by people who identify as different in order to have their desired impact?
Are they suggesting nobody into comics fandom wants "outsiders" to try out what they have? This has both a yes and no factor to it. Some of the people still left after Marvel and DC alienated their own audiences do fit the category of selfish addicts who aren't all that worried about nobody new coming in to try out the famous heroes they're reading about, and in the worst case scenario, don't even want movie audiences to play in the sandbox. But those with better sense do want them to, yet thanks to all the awful writing clogging up comics in modern times, can only recommend the older tales published in the Golden/Silver/Bronze ages to somebody new.

Is there something special about being part of an "unappreciated" audience? I do think the comics medium is a great form of industry, and think it's a shame that there's a lot of people out there who don't care even about the better written publications. But the mindless addicts of who buy some of the most awfully scripted stories no matter what, even if eventually bankrupts them, are why I'm sure it can be embarrassing for others to tell how they read comics because of how the aimless, inert addicts come off sounding so selfish and incapable of maintaining an objective approach to what's good or bad in storytelling.

And where do they get off claiming Marvel's reaching out to everyone? Not with their comics they aren't, and it may not make sense to say they're doing the same with the movies either, judging from how shoddy the Fantastic Four movies were.

It's true that comics helped many people, myself included, through hard times. But today's offerings that suffer from bad writing certainly don't. And if that doesn't concern Hollywood.Com, then I don't see why they're making this whole argument.

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Some comics fans are clannish, and have a "get off my lawn" reaction to the general public showing any interest in the medium or its characters. But some are almost evangelical, and try to attract new readers by giving comics (or TPB's and graphic novels) as gifts. And some fans are childish about media adaptations ("Hugh Jackman is too tall to be Wolverine!" "Call the POTUS and ask him to get Ben Affleck fired from the Superman/Batman movie!"), but some accept reality, and realize that different media have different requirements.

I have to agree with Anon, as each fandom is different and cannot be "one-size fits all." Actually, I can't think of many examples of real fan wank by Marvel fans beyond Agents of SHIELD and "damnit, the cast is too white! Bad!"

(You want wanky fandoms? Try Ninja Turtles, House and Supernatural fans -- now they are wank-tastic.)

But this link is just part of the so-called mainstream media knowing nothing of fan culture. They do their chin-pulling and proclaim us fools, like all those stories of reporters reporting on fanfiction, and not getting why we do what we do.

Not unlike how you might have a bug in a jar and questioning why it does what it does, while basking in your own superiority (unconscious or consciously). At least, it feels that way with stories like that to me.

Once you got past what IM3 wasn't (a compelling cat-and-mouse game between Stark and the Mandarin - what the trailers sold it as), it wasn't bad. Was certainly better than the second.

There are departures that work, because they actually improve the story (Batman Begins in general). There are ones that don't because they're either just different (Hulk shrinks around Betty) or stupid (Vic Von Doom as American industrialist).

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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