2.11.2015

Marvelopoly

Yesterday the internet exploded with the news that Spiderman's film rights would finally be granted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What exactly does that mean? It means that pretty much effective immediately the Amazing Spider-man franchise is dead as a doornail and Spider-man is set to be rebooted. AGAIN. In 2017. But this time under the same umbrella where the rest of the Marvel lives (save those precious X-men who are now my only hope.) Comic book nerds everywhere rejoiced and salivated at the prospect of seeing Spidey swinging into the Marvel universe and eventually interacting with all the other avengers. It's a dream come true right? For the vast majority of the movie watching population, it was like Christmas morning, but for this (not so) humble film lover I find it all to be deeply troubling. Here are five reasons I'm dreading this.


ANOTHER REBOOT... ONLY THREE YEARS LATER!


Remember all the fuss over the creation of The Amazing Spider-man franchise in the first place?? Everyone complaining about the fact that it was too soon to start over? The gap between Spider-man 3 (2007) and The Amazing Spider-man (2012) was a good five years. This time it will only be three... which is about the average length it takes between sequels. I know The Amazing Spider-man wasn't as universally loved as Sam Raimi's first two films.. but it had a lot of strengths. To completely erase it when it still had some unfinished business is just incredibly sad to me. Andrew Garfield was a fine Spider-man and he showed more human emotion and relatability in his time as Spider-man than any and every leading character of a Marvel studio produced movie COMBINED. Plus wasn't everyone's criticism of The Amazing Spider-man that we had already seen this origin story? At that time, it was ten years between the first installments of each, yet that was too soon? It makes you think.. "well if Marvel just brings in an already established Spider-man that won't be so bad." But the first word I've heard is that he'll be "even younger." We've already seen Spider-man in high school both times in these series. Let's see an adult version of this character where being Spider-man is a full-time job and has been for YEARS. But instead we'll be treated to our third origin story in the space of 15 years.


SPIDER-MAN'S STORY ARCS WILL HAVE TO BE TIED INTO THE LARGER MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE.


Each and every Marvel produced film must invariably set up the next and be tied together in a giant cinematic web. This means their storylines must exist in the same universe and be a part of a greater whole that sets up the films when they make cameo appearances in each other's movies. Spider-man's universe doesn't just consist of Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Harry Osbourne and MJ/Gwen Stacy anymore (depending on which girl you want to be your love interest.) Now he exists in a world where he will end up communicating to Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man on a regular basis. As comic book geeks read this they're peeing their pants and saying in their heads "and what's wrong with this?" Mostly that it doesn't make any of the characters in Spider-man's own world very important anymore. They, like Pepper Potts and anyone else in a supporting role in stand alone Marvel movies are fodder now. That and he will get roped into the dopey "find the stones of Thanos plot line" that no casual movie goer actually remembers is the overarching theme to all these movies. Spider-man mixing with these dumb aliens? Ugh.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT DOESN'T MATTER ONCE THE CHARACTER IS ESTABLISHED.


I mentioned this briefly in the first paragraph, but what I've noticed from all of the Marvel movies is that character is secondary to the fun. Every time. No one cares because breezy popcorn movies are fun. Why do we care if our heroes have personal lives and deal with everyday situations that make us relate to them? But but... Tony Stark has character and depth! I'll let you argue that one, but really what he has is sarcasm from a once enthusiastic Robert Downey Junior that gets a little more bored with each movie. But Thor has a love interest and thinks about her? Oh, good grief that romance is so paper thin. If that's what we have to look forward to between Peter and MJ.. well the thought just makes me want to recoil in sadness. Once a character is established we never get to know who they are beyond what they can do. Black Widow and Captain America are the best examples of this in his sequel where basically you could have interchanged the entire plot to feature Thor and Hawkeye and it really wouldn't have made a difference. It should make a difference! These stories should be personal.. and they're not. But character isn't something that avid readers of comics care about because they just project what they already know onto the character. I, on the other hand, believe these films are adaptations and should work both for people with prior knowledge, and for those who come to the table knowing nothing. 

MARVEL DOESN'T WANT THEIR MOVIES TO BE UNIQUE FROM ONE ANOTHER.


If there was ever a chance I could have LOVED a Marvel movie it died when they fired Edgar Wright *left* from directing Ant-Man. Why did this happen? Creative differences. Or in other words, he wanted his movie to be set apart from the rest, but it wasn't supposed to. Evangeline Lilly commented later that if his version had been made it would have "stuck out like a sore thumb" among other Marvel movies. In fact... read her entire quote for more illumination on the way Marvel works with what type of comic book movies get made on their watch. 
"I mean, they’ve established a universe, and everyone has come to expect a certain aesthetic [and] a certain feel for Marvel films. And what Edgar was creating was much more in the Edgar Wright camp of films. They were very different. And I feel like, if [Marvel] had created Edgar’s incredible vision — which would have been, like, classic comic book — it would have been such a riot to film [and] it would have been so much fun to watch. [But] it wouldn’t have fit in the Marvel Universe. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb, no matter how good it was. It just would have taken you away from this cohesive universe they’re trying to create. And therefore it ruins the suspended disbelief that they’ve built."
Everything HAS to fit together, and thus nothing can stand apart. The result? A bunch of vanilla easy to please movies that everyone loves but doesn't dare to have anything special about them.


IT'S A MONOPOLY FROM ONE STUDIO FOR ALMOST AN ENTIRE GENRE'S WORTH OF MATERIAL.

Going along with the point above, this point becomes even more crucial. You might be tempted to say "well who cares if they're all the same?"At this point in cinema history, superhero movies are an unstoppable force. They're everywhere and with Marvel they're not going away anytime soon. This commentary was made in Birdman when Michael Keaton and Zach Galifianakis try to come up with an actor who hasn't appeared in a superhero movie and they can't quite do it. This is a big time genre and Marvel, at this point in cinema is responsible for a good 80% of it. Yes, there's still DC Comics... but the current state of their film franchise hangs on the Batman vs. Superman movie. That said, I'm confident that their best days are behind them with the conclusion of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Let's think about those movies for a second. If they were being controlled by a studio to the extent that the Marvel movies control their content, would these movies have become what they are? The studio behind The Dark Knight was smart enough to give Christopher Nolan the creative control he wanted to be able to tell his story and set it apart from everything else on the market. Had Batman been a Marvel property, Christopher Nolan wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near it and we wouldn't have some amazing films. Marc Webb, having directed my all time favorite (500) Days of Summer, unfortunately, had a lot of studio interference in his Amazing Spider-man films... but he still was able to put a special touch on the scenes between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker. Had his movie been made at Marvel though, well he might not even have been allowed to direct if his vision differed too greatly. Sam Raimi's Spider-man probably wouldn't have existed either, and I loved his take. Some would argue that the villain storylines might have been better in Amazing Spider-man, but honestly other than Loki NONE of the villains in Marvel movies have been memorable. 

But let's look at it from another genre's perspective. Say that a studio connected with Disney had the right to make 80% of ALL comedies... but these comedies had to fit within certain guidelines so that they fit within what their studio was about. Only certain directors could be hired, only certain writers could take the job so that their cohesive vision remains the same with each comedy they release. Yes maybe those comedies are pretty good initially.. but wouldn't they start to get old after awhile? The problem is, Marvel and movie audiences today can't seem to understand the concept of "sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing." These movies for one thing have become completely over saturated. We get two of them a year, and they never differ from their stated formula. Imagine if that was all you had offered in the way of comedies. Or dramas. Or action adventure films. What was once a promising genre that could produce different takes on different properties has now become an intermittent web of sameness. So comic fans... rejoice, your beloved Spider-man has been Marvel-ized. For others like me, it's a sad day because anything unique and fun about this character will soon disappear just so he can fit in. 

As one of the only people on the planet with this particular opinion, I'm sure many people are reading this outraged. Don't be. You got your wish and I'm allowed to be disappointed. For those that do share my grief, I'll be doing a retrospective soon on the two Amazing Spider-man films.. so look for that potentially next week.

13 comments:

Jason Kowing said...

Emily, I agree with you on every single point here. I figured I was the only one in the world who had this opinion, but Marvel Comic movies are (unsurprisingly) like Marvel Comics. And the fans love them. It's like walking into a bookstore's comic section and seeing racks and racks of Marvel comics there, then a small section of other "graphic novels" that have a much smaller fan base, but are much deeper and have a much higher quality of art and story.

Marvel has its universe and everything is streamlined and fits together. I get bored with the Marvel movies very quickly and Spidey's inclusion into it does nothing for me because of that. For me, superhero movies such as Watchmen and Hancock are outside the "comic" realm and more into the "graphic novel" realm where things are much deeper, and more emotionally gratifying.

Another excellent blog post, my friend!
~Jason Kowing

Johanna said...

Well, you know this isn't my thing, but even I can see that a monopoly is never a good way to go.

Too bad for all the comic geeks. You better watch what you wish for....

Sarah said...

I am also not a fan of introducing Spider-Man into the Avengers world. They just don't seem to mesh...and the fact that they will make them mesh is like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Also, I agree with you and Mom. Monopolies are NEVER a good thing.

I guess we can only hope that they don't decide to somehow mesh Star Wars and the Marvel Universe one of these days just for the heck of it because Disney now owns the rights to both of them.

Ryan said...

It’s great to see the other opinion on this issue, but I see many holes with the arguments you raise.

I have to strongly disagree with the notion that character's are second to fun with all the Marvel movies. The statement that you can replace any character with Captain America in Winter Solider is and not change anything is overlooking a lot of what that movie was doing. Captain America has always been a character who's foundation was built upon doing what was right. What Winter Solider did was make the 'what is right' a murky or impossible question to answer completely.

The dichromatic struggle of ensuring security and placating fear is more interesting when you have a character like Steve Rogers who represents the epitome of the values 'the greatest generation' stood for. Placing him into a struggle that is layered in the social and international political struggle of today gives an intriguing perspective.

To say the film isn't personal is missing a great deal, and that's not even considering the personal ties with Winter Solider.
Also both Winter Solider and Guardians of the Galaxy had little connecting tissue with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and same thing for Iron Man 3. Sony still has creative control over the character, so to then assume that means Spider-man will spend his time only with superheroes may be a little presumptions.

Also the idea that Marvel doesn't allow for directors to put their creative touches is again a questionable statement. If you watch Iron Man 3 and can't see Shane Black's influence you've must never have watched a Shane Black movie. Guardians maintains much of Gunn's quirky and odd sense of humor and The Russo brothers were able to put their apparent flair for action in Captain America. Not to mention the first Captain America film that was clearly influenced by Joe Johnston’s serial esc style.

Sure giving Nolan more control gave us Dark Knight, but giving a director total control over a comic book movie doesn’t always lead to the Dark Knight. Giving Joel Schumacher Nolan esc control gave us Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

Not to mention a lot of the issues you bring up Amazing Spider-Man 2 was also guilty of. It was clear that film’s first concern was establishing the Sinister Six as quickly as possible. Why else give us three rather undeveloped villains in one movie. Yea Ander Garfield and Emma Stone were great together but everything around them was garbage. Andrew Garfield pretty much said so himself. So when your actors don’t even like the movies they are in no wonder you are looking elsewhere to get the movie made.

Emily said...

I don't really want to argue because I feel like I've said my peace. I disagree with your points and I'm not really the type to be swayed which I felt was made clear in my closing statement.

I don't give Captain America 2 that kind of credit because honestly it bored me to tears, but I guess I'm glad you saw something more in it than I did. I haven't seen a Shane Black movie that's true, but if they're anything at all like Iron Man 3 I can't say that I care to. And Joe Johnston's visual style is fine, but to me directors need to have more than just a talent at the visual.

Disagree on Amazing Spider-man being garbage, and I'll write more on that in the future. Thanks for your comment.

Sarah said...

Oh, and one more thing, I agree that if they are changing Spider-man up that they should cut the teenage crap and go to him being an adult, experienced superhero. My opinion? Bring back Toby Maguire.

Emily said...

Kent mentioned that too Sarah. And I actually feel like I could be okay with it!

Ryan said...

This is the issue with the Millennial generation, you are great at spouting off your opinions, but not great at defending them. When points are challenged your fold and hide behind the “I’m allowed to have an opinion defense”

Sarah said...

Well why isn't she allowed to have her own opinions? You are allowed to have yours. Besides, her whole post stated and defended the reasoning behind her opinion. Besides, now that you have thrown down the gauntlet in an unkind and criticizing way, why should she respond further? She's not folding, she is refusing to get into a fight.

Major Undeclared said...

How dare you have an opinion and then stand by that written opinion! Internet rage!

Sarah said...

Major Undeclared, that made me smile.

Bubbawheat said...

I'm with you to a point. I do wish that Sony was able to continue with their own Spider-Man cinematic universe, and I am especially looking forward to the Sinister Six and Venom (which are still happening, they are just delayed. Sony is sharing rights with Marvel, not giving them back wholesale, I imagine they figure that Marvel can help wash the imagined stink off of the franchise). I do think that the Marvel films feel like they exist within the same universe, but I don't think they feel too similar. The biggest similarities that they have is that they generally have the same sense of humor.

Thor is a space fantasy, Captain America was a war movie then a spy movie, Guardians is a space opera, they share the same rhythm but each have their own melodies.

It's still too early to tell what exactly Marvel plans to do with Spider-Man, but I agree that they don't need yet another origin story. I would be amazed and happy if they went the Miles Morales route, but even if they stick with Peter Parker, and a younger Peter Parker, then they can still do something without ruining everything. At this point, it's really too early to tell because there are so many different iterations of Spider-Man, it could be something like how DC are keeping their movie worlds and TV worlds separate, there can be a Marvel Spider-Man and a Sony Spider-Man, it's doubtful, but possible.

CrispyMusic said...

I strongly disagree with some of your points.

1) In the Comics Spider-man has existed countless times with the Avengers and nothing was taken away from his own universe. The movies won't be any different. At least it will be a nice change from all the formulaic Sony movies which all had the same villain arcs and shoddy romance.

2) Black Widow and Cap were the only characters that could play those roles in Winter Soldier. Cap was a guy who lived in the past where morality was black and white. Black Widow is spy with a dark past and she represents modern day morality. A big theme in the movie was about not knowing who to trust. To say any character could replace them shows you didn't pay much attention.

3) Marvel Studio actually DOES want their movies to be unique from one another. Otherwise they wouldn't get directors who specialize at certain types of genres in film/TV. Just look at the last two films they released. GOTG is a space opera with action/comedy while Winter Soldier is a conspiracy thriller and they both have different aesthetics. Marvel is actually trying to separate themselves from just being part of the "Superhero genre" which is why they had a problem with Edgar Wright who wanted a more comedic classic superhero kind of movie instead of a heist film that was adapted from modern comics. The directors are given given a lot a creative control, but they have to play with what they already have.

It's just like in the comics where artist can use completely different styles, but the story still part of the same universe.