Jun 30, 2006

On spiders, mutants, and supermen

This is a rant about the film franchises of Spider-Man, Superman, and X-Men. These are my opinions and views at this present time, and I don't mean to attack any actor or director personally. Just my thoughts, nothing more. We can talk.

Worth noting- I read comic books. I know these franchises well.

Spoilers if you've never even heard of these films or characters.


Well, just got done with watching Superman Returns with my brother. SR is directed by Bryan Singer, who previously helmed Xmen and Xmen2 (X2). I personally consider X2 one of the best superhero films ever made. He was slated to direct the third X-Men movie, but when the chance to direct a new Superman movie came up, he switched over and brought all his writing and directing staff with him.

When the opening credits are one of the most exciting parts of the whole movie, you have got problems.

Simply put...Superman Returns kinda sucks. For a bunch of different reasons. To start, there is the obligatory cheese factor; the "wink" to the audience the film keeps on giving. The acting also comes in question, although before acting comes casting, and this certainly was NOT the best of Lois Lanes. Kate Bosworth is an excellent actor, but she is not Lois Lane. Perhaps Kate Beckinsale would have been a better choice.

Kevin Spacey is an excellent Lex Luthor though; not as good or as evil as Michael Rosembaum on Smallville, but still excellent. The problem is he's basing his character on Gene Hackman's Lex from the original movies. He's almost comic side relief, with a touch of "twirling mustache" villain thrown in. This is NOT Lex Luthor.

Brandon Routh is simply a clone of Christopher Reeves. Now, if you liked the original movies, that's a good thing. If you thought the original movies were comedies, not to be taken seriously, and were poor attempts at adapting one of the most well versed characters in history, well, you won't like Brandon Routh. Routh is the new Hayden Christensen; give him three movies, he will be a great actor. Just don't expect alot the first time through.

If Singer can get away from the original movies for the next installment, we might have an excellent trilogy coming. Do away with all the Krypton nonsense, bad Lex Luthor schemes...in fact, get a new villain. Lex is classic and all, but he's been done, ad hoc. Something new is needed, new locations, new scenarious, new plots, and new "rescues"; helicopters, people, cars, kittens...it's all been done before. Bring us something new.

In fact, bring us Superman Vs Batman. Routh vs Bale. Now that would be an excellent movie.


The strangest thing has happened though. I liked Xmen3 better than Superman Returns. X2 has long been one of my favorite movies, X1 was "meh," and I had high hopes (and some fear due to the new director) about X3. I've noticed a lot of hate on the internet towards X3, most of it unwarranted.

X3 delivered something Singer never gave us. Superpowers. We finally got to see Wolvie, Storm, Colossus, and others just unleash and let fly. And not "unleash, stop, think and cry about something, converse, unleash, fade to black." No, we finally got to see a great and amazing X-MEN movie. Not simply Beverly Hills Mutants.

While I do love Singer's movies, I'm glad he didn't direct the third film, because we finally got to see what we hadn't before. And there was still plenty of character plot and development.

And Rogue still was a whiny little girl, hardly anything like her comic book character. But I'll let that slide, cause that started in the first film.


Since the teaser trailer for Spider-man 3 has finally hit the internet (the best thing quicktime.com is good for, hosting movie trailers), I decided to go and rent Spidey2.

Now, I hated Spidey1. It took me a while to get use to Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. Scratch that, he was a great Spidey. He was a horrible Peter Parker. I also felt that Kirsten Dunst was not in any way Mary Jane (kinda ugly too), and a Power Ranger villain was just a disappointment, however amazing Willem Dafoe is.

I'll just ignore the whole thing about following comic book continuity...forget about Gwen Stacy...forget about Goblin...forget about Parker meeting Mary Jane in college...forget about the in-grown web shooters...forget about it all. It's a movie, comics just don't work too well on the big screen...unless it's Sin City.

Spidey2 comes around and is a much better movie. Better villian, it doesnt' look CG when Spidey is swinging around, the subplot with Mary Jane was better, and it set up recurring characters for the third movie. Plus, the subway/skytrain scene is amazing.

But I had a major gripe with Spidey2. The love triangle. I'm all for love triangles in movies, it's worked before and can work again; it makes some compelling drama. But Spidey2 crossed a line.

If you've seen the movie, Mary Jane decides at the very last second to run away from her wedding and fiance in order to "devote" herself to Peter Parker/Spidey.

When I saw this movie, I was furious. And very saddened.

The scenes are filmed in such a way that we are supposed to feel like this is the right thing for her to do. Sunlight is streaming, she's running in slow motion, music is playing (Hallelujah chorus)...this is a good thing, right? She's finally getting together with Spider-Man, who's always loved her and is THE HERO.

What about her fiance? Who loves her, desires her, is devoted to her, and was hers up til Peter grew a pair?

Let me write the subplot to the movie you won't see filmed or probably even remotely addressed. Scene 1- The next morning. John Jameson, the heroic astronaut pilot, wakes up in bed, drunk from the previous night's failed wedding. He starts crying, staring at her picture, and the engagement ring sitting on his nightstand. He reaches over, opens a drawer, pulls out a .45,

And blows his brains out.

Scene. Fade to black, roll credits.

I have no sympathy or joy for Mary Jane/Peter Parker. He's a loser who just happens to have "great powers with great responsibilty," and she's an emotional wreck who's been used by nearly everyone and yet is cold and calculating enough to destroy her fiance.

And yet still, Spidey2 is one of the better superhero movies. And I'll be there opening day to see Spidey3 cause I enjoy watching them.

But the values these movies are teaching leave much to be desired. Unless it truly is ok to play with people's emotions and leave the one who loves you for the one you desire (um, adultery?), as long as it was "meant to be."

Am I making any sense?


Still, go watch them. They are great movies.


hicko said...

Interesting to read your comments, I loved Spider-Man 1 and 2. I saw Superman Returns yesterday and really enjoyed it as well. It's all subjective, all opinion but I thought they were all great fun and not bad as movies.
Good luck to you mate.
PS a friend of mine who is a comic nerd, as he calls it, quite enjoyed them as well. But as I said you're entitled to your opinion.

Stuart B said...

I feel the need to see both X3 and Superman Returns again, in order just to sit back and think about the films, as opposed to wanting to enjoy them the first time you see them.

But the majority of my gripes on the films stem from the fact that I am also a "comic nerd," and many of the changes they've made to the characters just irk me.

Still...good films. I'll try to keep an open mind when I rewatch them. Any movie can get better with repeated viewings...except Napolean Dynamite. That just plain sucked.