I have no idea what got me thinking about this, but as I was drinking my morning coffee, it occurred to me that all the superhero movies were missing the point – or points, I guess.
First, they seem compelled to retell the origin of whatever hero or heroes they portray in each film. As if most/all viewers aren’t already familiar with who the Hulk is or where he came from? As if Superman’s origin isn’t force fed into our brains as infants? As if any human likely to see a Batman or Spiderman movie isn’t already in on the Secret Origin tm of its star?
Come on, Marvel and DC, have some conviction that you’ve done a good job taking over 21st century culture, that your creations are part of the cultural zeitgeist. And have some faith in us that we’ve been paying attention. Just get on with the story, will ya?
What else are the comics companies doing wrong when they bring their work to the screen This is what really got me worked up this morning:
Unless I miss my guess, every superhero movie has been about a Hero fighting a Villain. Sometimes, there’s a secondary plot about the Hero fighting Himself. (Someone’s been reading Joseph Campbell again…)
Well, what’s wrong with that, you ask? Nothing, I say, but there are other kinds of super hero stories that comic books do routinely and well.
The ones I’m most find of are the “Hero mistakenly versus Hero before realizing their mistake and THEN going after the real baddie” stories.
I get that this is just a subtle (okay, maybe even trivial) distinction vis a vis the Hero vs Hero story I was just complaining about. But subtleties matter and they can determine whether a story resonates with an audience or not.
A straitforward statement like, “How is Hero X going to defeat Villain Y” is way, way different than “When are Heroes W and X going to figure out that they should be defeating Villain Y instead of beating each other to a pulp?”
I mean, think about it. If you’re like me (at least 10 year old me though truth be told I haven’t changed much since then)… if you’re like me, your favorite stories were the classic Thing vs Hulk battles in the old Fantastic Four books… the Avengers vs X-Men tales… the Batman vs Superman stuff… the Flash and Superman racing to see who’s fastest… the original X-men vs the new X-men… the original Averngers vs the new Avengers… and others my fading memory can’t call to mind right now.
Interestingly, some games do a better job than movies of recreating this sort of Hero vs Hero magic. I’m thinking of some recent beat-em-up games that allow players to pit hero agains hero. Yeah, I know, the narrative content is pretty weak. But at least games offer something like the classic battles I loved as a kid and still love today.
Now, if we could get some narrative games going that played with the “who’s the real enemy” idea, maybe we’d be onto something I’d be first in line to play a Thing vs Hulk game!
I realize there are other superhero stories to be told – the “do I save the world or pay my rent” stories… the “hero who walks away before being dragged back into the fight” stories… the ” can a hero love a villain” stories… and (another favorite of mine) “can the hero overcome his or her limitations or vulnerabilities” stories.
I’d love to see some of them dealt with in movies and games. But the Hero vs Hero stuff is my favorite and it seems underrepresented in all media other than comic books. And I’m bummed about that.
Anyway, that’s a look at the kind of silliness I think about while downing my morning coffee. What are your thoughts on this? Do you hate Hero vs Hero stories? Have I forgotten any movies or games that deal with that idea, whether badly or well? What are your favorite comic (or other stories) along these lines? What kind of superhero stories do you love or hate? I’m all ears.
Maybe someone in Marvel or DC’s film departments will listen up and try something different.
Nah! What was I thinking?!