Food For Thought: The Character Makes the Fight Scene

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

rocky

For the past month, everyone has been talking about how great Creed is.  Well, I’m here to tell you that a much better version of this movie came out forty years ago.  It was called Rocky.

To be a character in a movie about the big match you have to stack the deck against our hero.  In other words, the audience has to think that this guy could never win, but desire to see him succeed.  Throughout Rocky, you see a thirty-year-old man being made fun of by everyone, thinking that he is nothing.  Not to mention, Rocky isn’t exactly the most attractive man in this film; he looks like your everyday working man.  His low income comes from boxing other no-names, and being a debt collector for the mob.  In other words, he is the last person you would think could win the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World.  Then, he gets the chance of a lifetime to go toe-to-toe with Apollo Creed, the current holder of the title.  And, he has five weeks to train.  Even though Rocky doesn’t beat him, he does match evenly with the best, and that’s all that matters to him.

For a fight scene to be excellent, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the best crafted fight scene; it just needs a great character.  If you don’t have a character that people can relate to, then why bother?  One of my favorite action/ fight scenes is from Fearless.  Throughout that film, we see how much Jet Li’s character had changed not only through his words, but also through his actions.  His character change is shown in the climactic scene (which I will not spoil).  Back to Rocky.  Rocky didn’t only have to make the characters believe he would win, he also had to make the audience believe.  What Creed lacks is the underdog protagonist.  The titular character is rich and he looks like a model (in fact, his face makes him look like he has never even been in a fight).  Right there, he has a lot more going for him than what Rocky did in the original.  Granted, he has the reasonable goal to go the distance so that he does not feel like an accident.  But, it is not as interesting as Rocky’s goal, which is to go the distance with the champ in order to prove to himself that he’s not just another bum from the neighborhood.  Why is Creed’s story not as interesting?  Because Rocky’s story is far more relatable.  How many of us are already rich and good-looking, as opposed to average-looking with average-to-low income?  Rocky IV is another example of an unrelatable protagonist.  This version of Rocky is rich, “in shape”, and his only naysayers are those dastardly Russians.  In order for a protagonist to be interesting, he or she has to have flaws that make you believe there is a strong chance that he or she will fail.  What’s the fun in watching a flawless, “in-shape”, rich guy pursue a goal?  Don’t you think it’s lame when you realize that there’s nothing to suggest that he might not accomplish his goal?  Real people have flaws; therefore, relatable characters have flaws.

A very average guy.

That is one of the words I will continue to throw at you—relatable.  In any fight scene, the main character needs to be relatable and realistic.  Nobody looks like Michael B. Jordan or Rocky in Rocky IV.  But everyone can look like Rocky in the original, or be like him.  I think anyone would want to root for such a character.  The major problem with too many films is that you cannot relate to the protagonist at all.  What amazes me is that our current generation of moviegoers are all about “realism” in movies, but seem to be okay with Captain America, a WWII hero, being devoid of any physical damage whatsoever.  Jackie Chan, on the other hand, looks realistic, like his face has been through hell.  The imperfect guy looks a million times cooler than the pretty boy.  If you’ve read other articles of mine, you know that Bruce Lee is my favorite action star and character.  Sure, he had an amazing body, but it made sense because of what he was doing—taking on a bunch of fighters one after another, by himself.  His flaw, though, as shown in the films Fist of Fury and Big Boss, is that he is not wise enough to realize that violence doesn’t solve anything.

We all remember the ascension, the build-up to the final fight.  Whether it is Rocky’s montage or Luke Skywalker training on Dagobah, every hero needs the ascension.  By the end of the Rocky montage (when he is running), he is all alone.  What does this reinforce to the audience?  That everyone thinks he cannot do it.  The indifference among most of Philly drives Rocky to shock Creed when the two begin to trade devastating blows.  As an audience, we need to see that our character learned something by the end; otherwise, the fight makes no sense.  I despise action scenes that have no point.  Example: what the hell did Captain America learn in First Avenger?  Nothing!  Early on in the film, he is told that he is a hero.  From there, true to Marvel’s current trend of films, the movie is all about watching the perfect good guy beat up the ruthless bad guy.  Even in the second one, it’s all about the perfect Cap helping his imperfect friend.  Why should I care about his big fights?  Rocky, on the other hand, learned that all you need is heart and determination, which he demonstrates at the end of the movie.  When Apollo is dodging every blow, Rocky uses heart and determination to change up his method of attack.  He uses what he learned as the key to achieving the impossible.

Luke is terrible for two films before he gets good.

Rocky is an all-time classic character.  He is the center of a true underdog story, in which no one, even the viewer, believed he could win.  So, why stop with just him?  Why can’t we have more films like Rocky?  In Fist of Fury, the Japanese warriors believed all Chinese were sick dogs.  Who wouldn’t want to see these guys destroyed?  When you have an amazing conflict and everyone is out to get you, that is when a fight scene works the best.  Ip Man is the most recent film to masterfully tell such a story.  Instead of a person who is down on his luck to begin with, Ip Man shows the transition from the protagonist having everything to having nothing.  This transition made me want to see Ip Man destroy the villain—the Japanese general.

The bottom-line is that great action scenes (whether it’s a gun fight or a boxing match) cause more of an audience reaction when they are emotionally invested in the main character’s journey.  I would like to see more movies like Rocky, ones that make the audience say, “This character’s awesome; I hope he/she makes it!”.

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Topic of the Week: Have Movies Become Too Big?

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

I just watched the trailer for Independence Day 2 (I know you’re asking, why?).  While watching it, I thought to myself, this movie looks like the guy who is desperately trying to find a date—it’s trying way too hard.  Jeff Goldblum’s character, at the end, literally says about the ship that we can clearly see, “that’s definitely bigger than the last one” (referring to the mammoth ship from the original film).  I thought, is going bigger actually necessary?  Is that all the filmmakers could come up with?  Then, I asked myself the most important question of all—have movies become too big?

So what do I mean by big?  Simply put, every acton scene is so crazy that you cannot comprehend it.  The last big action movie I was able to watch and enjoy was Return of the King.  The set pieces of blockbuster action movies after that point became progressively chaotic, to the point where, for the first time in 2009 with Transformers 2, I did not care about any of the action happening.  So many equally crazy things were happening, one after another, that my senses became numb halfway through.  Fellowship of the Ring is one of my favorite movies, mainly because there are only two amazing action sequences.  Neither of them is massive, but has enough to satisfy the audience.  Sure, the Balrog is big, but it’s not like there are five of them.  And yes, each action sequence is at least eight minutes, but that’s nothing compared to ones that last twenty-minute-plus nowadays.  Fellowship was not a blockbuster that tried to outdo anything before it, unlike modern blockbusters.  It simply set out to do its own thing.  Alien is another great example of such a film.  Released two years after Star Wars, and also a sci-fi film primarily set in space, Alien did the noble thing of not trying to compete with Star Wars.  Instead, the filmmakers made it a small film by setting it in one main location; plus, they added a great deal of suspense and horror.  As a result, it became one of the best sci-fi films, alongside Star Wars, on its own merits; it didn’t try to copy and one-up Star Wars.

Today, it seems that we are under the impression that bigger makes the movie better.  In the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, Shredder looks fifty times bigger than what he was in the original, yet he is much cooler in the original.  Why?  Less is more.  The most iconic monsters are hardly in their best movies: Michael Myers in the original Halloween, the shark in the original Jaws, and the Terminator endoskeleton in The Terminator.  Yet, the idea to show MORE MORE MORE is actually hurting movies.  Why does the T-1000 still work today?  What makes him so menacing compared to most threats?  The answer to both questions is that when we see him change into other people, form his own weapons, and rejuvenate from being shot, we only see it in a small dose, and it doesn’t happen every time we see him.  Also, he seems threatening because he is virtually indestructible, and we feel afraid of him because we see how frightened the human characters are of him.  You don’t need a billion scenes to show the audience that a villain is awesome.  In a lot of ways, Terminator 2 set both a good and bad example for future action films.  It showed that a movie can be full of action, but also full of character and plot development, tension, emotion, and anticipation for the next action sequence.  Unfortunately, a lot of action directors misinterpreted the film as merely a giant action movie that was successful because it one-upped its predecessor by including more action and visual effects.

What filmmakers should learn from films such as T2 is that set pieces only work if the audience has had a chance to wait a while for it, and be given context for the scene in the meantime.  Also, filmmakers must understand that a set piece should have only one big thing that happens (most of the time).  In the Cyberdyne take-down scene, the big moment is the minigun attack; in the first chase scene with the T-1000, it’s the truck blowing up; and in the final chase scene, it’s “Hasta la vista, baby” with the shattering of the frozen T-1000.  Yes, a lot happens in this movie, but all of it makes sense and does not last for thirty minutes.  Granted, in Act III, there are three action sequences, but each one is, at most, eight minutes, and are broken up long enough for the audience to catch their breath, and are interspersed with moments of build-up.  Now, I just talked a lot about Terminator 2, but make no mistake that my favorite genre is martial arts; so, the type of action sequence that I love most is a good long fight scene.  But even I get bored with a fight scene that runs too long (The Raid final fight, for example).  Even Mortal Kombat (1995), a movie about fighting, takes breaks in between a thirty-minute-long scene that shows all of the tournament fights.  If a mediocre movie can do it, then why can’t we do it today?

“A New Hope”–The Story of George Lucas

by: Richie Watkins

Below is my pitch for a full-length biopic about the man who created Star Wars–George Lucas.

Premise

Set in the 1970s, a visionary filmmaker must deal with his shyness, and micro-managing, temperamental ego, in order to finish his magnum opus.

Summary

Forget what you read and heard about George Lucas; this is a different kind of truth.  Lucas began as a stock car racer.  But, one night, that all changed.  He was racing his friend Choncy on a busy street.  Lucas lost control of his car within seconds of starting, and crashed into a white-light photography studio.  Upon flying headfirst into a giant camera, he realized that photography was his calling.  So, he began taking pictures of anything and everything, including his shoes, random ceilings, and the Black Panthers.  One night, while leading a protest in the streets of LA, the Black Panthers told Lucas, who was snapping pictures of an approaching group of police officers, “Golly whiz, George!  You are so creative with that camera!  You should make movies!”

Lucas had realized that he had forgotten what a movie actually was, for the crash damaged his memory.  He could feel the viewing experience; he just couldn’t remember it.  So, after one year, he reconnected with his friend Choncy, and they re-watched his favorite movie–17 straight hours of WWII planes flying back and forth.

After that viewing, he realized that the car/camera crash was a gift, not a curse.  Up to that point, Lucas had felt directionless.  His father continually nagged him to assume his “rightful” spot as the font-size-consistency analyst at the family-owned textbook factory.  Inspired by his current life situation, he suddenly figured out an idea for a movie character–a farmboy who wants to go to space and fly a WWII plane.  At that moment, the character Dirk Planetblaster was born.

Now, George has a vision for the greatest space opera of all time, he just can’t express what it is.  And he’ll get mad at anyone who wrongly interprets it.  Only through the power of funky song and dance can he express his ideas.  What he needs, though, is the courage and gumption to do so, because he is battling introvertism and depression throughout the cursed production.  Can Lucas conquer his inner battle in order to pull his adversarial cast and crew together in time to save a sinking ship?  Or will his dream forever go unfulfilled?

Characters

Lucas:  He won’t talk to any of the cast or crew because they are not speaking his language.  Lucas has an uncontrollable sighing and eye-rolling problem when people don’t understand words he just makes up on the spot.  “Romulate with sector 12 of the proceduring” is his most used, misunderstood phrase.  He is a gifted singer and dancer, but his shyness is what holds him back from using such talents.  Lucas is the epitome of an eagle struggling to fly.

He would be played by zero-time Academy Award winner John Travolta.

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Concept art for the film.

Irvin Kershner: Calm, humble, and collected, Mr. Kershner serves as the mentor for Lucas.  He shows Lucas the path to success as a filmmaker, and pushes him to walk it.  In keeping with the current diversified casting trend, the future Empire Strikes Back director would be played by Faizon Love.

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Alec Guinness:  A world-renowned actor whose constant joking (which results in numerous outtakes), drives Lucas up a wall.  He constantly makes fun of Lucas, more so than anyone else on set, for not being a communicative director.  His frequent comedic jabs make him intimidating.  While he’s impressed with the set designs, costumes, and effects, he thinks the story is a joke, and makes fun of that too.  With the first-ever use of an interactive synthetic actor (created from stock footage of his various film and TV performances), Sir Alec Guinness would be played by Rodney Dangerfield.

An outtake from Star Wars:

Luke: “You know Obi-Wan Kenobi?”

Obi-Wan: “Obi-Wan?  I tell ya, kid, I haven’t been called that name in a long time, ya know?!  And I’ve been having sex with my wife for twenty years!  I don’t know what it is with her; she’s young, but she always screws up my name in bed.  Last week she called me Steve!”

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Al Pacino–Makes a 5-minute special guest appearance as himself in one scene.  At a New York restaurant, he meets with Lucas (whom, to Lucas’ chagrin, he calls “Georgie”) to discuss taking the role of Han Solo.  At first, Lucas is excited that such a respected actor is interested in his film.  Pacino proposes his idea for a scene with Han fighting a guy named Greedo (and his henchmen) at a bar.  Pacino acts out the scene, feeding lines to Lucas, who is “reading” as Greedo.  Pacino wants to impress Lucas, so he jump kicks a tray of food out of a passing waiter’s arms (while shouting, “HOOWAH!”), and pulls a gun.  Pacino then tosses another gun to Lucas, and says, “And now you point the gun at me, and you say ‘You had your shot Han; now it’s my turn!’”.  Lucas reluctantly says it, and Pacino, as Han, says, “No! I’m shooting first, you cockaroach!”  Pacino fires 3 shots into the window behind Lucas.  Upon hearing police sirens, Pacino flees.  He traumatizes George, but also inspires one of the most iconic scenes in Lucas’s film.

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The rest of the cast and characters:

Choncy……………………Michael Fassbender

Steven Spielberg…………..Steve Buscemi

Francis Ford Coppola ………….Eddie Murphy

Harrison Ford………………..Channing Tatum

Mark Hamill……………………Tobey Maguire

Carrie Fisher…………………Jennifer Love Hewitt

Stephen King………………….Gary Busey

Black Panther Leader………..Wayne Brady

 

Top Ten Star Wars Moments

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

Over the last four decades, Star Wars has penetrated numerous media.  From the big screen to your PC, here are the ten greatest Star Wars moments every fan should know about.  By the way, SPOILERS!!!!

 

10.) Star Wars: Dark Forces

darkforces

Many probably have not heard of this game. Its popularity didn’t last long due to Goldeneye‘s release around the same time.  Dark Forces is a FPS game in which you play as Kyle Katarn, and your objective is to take on the Empire.  During your journey, you encounter Boba Fett, storm star destroyers, and uncover the dark troopers.  For the FPS, this game pioneered AI that was actually intelligent, and the 360-degree camera view.  Most games up to that point did not have such features (except for Doom).  Dark Forces also has great replay value because of its engaging levels.  A brilliantly designed game, it is no surprise that it was one the highest-grossing games of the 90s.  If you play the game for context and not graphics, it is a true masterpiece.

 

09.) Star Wars: Clone Wars

clone wars

When I was 11, I thought this show was dumb.  I asked myself, “Why would I want to wait each week to see only ten minutes of television?”  (This was the 2003 version, not the 2008 version).  Now, having re-watched the entire show, I have to say it is one of the best Star Wars stories.  Throughout the series, the art direction feels like a martial art movie, what with the widescreen look, the silence before the battle, and the crazy action sequences.  Plus, this show follows the movies closer (if that changes things for you).

 

08.) The Return of Darth Maul

maul

Not many revivals of characters work out well (I’m talking to you Marvel and DC), but Dave Filoni’s story about the return of Maul was nothing short of excellent in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008).  Not only does Maul return as a stronger and more proactive character, but also we see him grow from a half-robot/spider to a true dark lord.  Darth Maul’s revival is what cemented him as an iconic character of the series.  Although Darth Maul does meet a harsh end in the show, it was remarkable to see him rebound from being tossed away in the first prequel.

 

07.) Star Wars Fan Films

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If you actually love Star Wars, then you’ve seen the Star Wars fan films and their often unique perspectives on the franchise.  With classics such as Troops, Pink Five, Gangsta Rap, Kit Fisto Lives, and, of course, the web series Chad Vader, Star Wars fans clearly know how to do something completely different with the universe.

 

06.) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

kotor

How do you expand Star Wars?  Easy; you go back 4,000 years and create a unique game and gameplay for a Star Wars RPG.  KOTOR is one of my favorite games and has one of THE best twists ever.  KOTOR was able to create new and interesting characters that fans would remember.  At the same time, it stayed true to what makes Star Wars so beloved.

 

05.) Star Wars: Battlefront

Battlefront instantly became my favorite party game.  Playing the greatest battles from the movies, with the addition of maps from other stories, this third-person shooter took you on the ride of your life through the Star Wars universe.  It defined what fans expect from an action packed Star Wars game.

 

04.) Ahsoka Tano leaves the Jedi Order

ahsoka leaves

The protagonist of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Ashoka Tano had to prove herself to fans because she wasn’t one of the original characters.  When I first watched the show, I couldn’t stand her because she seemed one-dimensional.  After five years of watching her grow up, however, I grew to be attached to her, and realized that she was one of the best characters in the Star Wars universe.  Needless to say, I was sad to see her exit the show.

 

03.) Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

star wars

What better way to start off your Star Wars fanboy love than with the film that started it all?  Sure, a lot of movies age badly, but this story doesn’t.  One of the best parts about Star Wars is its universe.  If the movie was good solely because of its mind-blowing effects, people wouldn’t watch it today (with a straight face, anyway).  The movie has what movies are missing nowadays: a unique universe that tells a simple, familiar story.

 

02.) Grand Admiral Thrawn

Trawn_and_Sidious

The best character was created after the original saga, and was part of the first trilogy after Return of the Jedi.  Grand Admiral Thrawn’s trilogy is the best set of books I’ve ever read.  If you want to know what the best non-movie Star Wars story is, then read Heir to the Empire.

 

01.) Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

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The look, the story, the characters, the music, and the tone were just right in this film.  When I watch it, I can smile the entire time.  The movie is too perfect.  It set the bar sky high for anything called Star Wars.  The Empire Strikes Back will always remain my favorite sci-fi film, and will always be revered as one of the greatest movies ever.

 

Food For Thought: It has Begun!

it has begun 1

The Battle for Casting! Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

Mortal Kombat was one of the hottest properties of the 90s.  Its hard-hitting, spine-ripping gameplay brought new life to fighting games.  The game series introduced unique and unforgettable characters such as Scorpion, Sub Zero, and Goro.  The monumental success of Mortal Kombat and the downline of Street Fighter’s popularity pointed to one important sign—it was time to make a movie.  So, let’s start with actors that the filmmakers wanted.

For Liu Kang, the filmmakers wanted Brandon Lee.  His casting would have been amazing, seeing as how the character is based on his father, Bruce Lee.  But, he turned it down to make The Crow (smart choice).  Then, the biggest slap in the face happened.  Johnny Cage, one of the original fighters, was based on Jean Claude Van Damme.  Around this time, both the director of Street Fighter and the director of Mortal Kombat were trying to grab a hold of him.  Keep in mind that no one in Street Fighter resembles Van Damme.  Nevertheless, Van Damme was apparently more intrigued with the concept of Street Fighter, so he signed on to play Guile, making for his most face-palming career move.  Meanwhile, MK director Paul W.S. Anderson picked up Linden Ashby (who?).  And, the man to headline the film would be none other than Christopher Lambert (of Highlander fame) as Raiden.  At this point, things were not looking good for MK.

Throughout that year, the two franchise titans struggled to assemble the best possible casts.  In the process, however, they destroyed each other’s chances.  This was the problem with both films—they did not have the cast to back up the title.  Sure, Street Fighter had Van Damme, but he was in no shape to do anything special.  (Despite what the label may tell you, cocaine is NOT a reliable physical enhancer).  Robin Shao, as Liu Kang, was a C-grade Jet Li; and Ashby could hardly do a low spin kick.  Both were supposed to be martial arts films, yet it was a “Where’s Waldo?” of capable martial artists.  There are two requirements for a martial arts film: a character who can carry the film on his shoulders; and people who look believable as fighters.  That is why Bruce Lee holds up today; he exceeded both requirements.

Here is Ashby attempting to fight!

Look at these edits!

            Unfortunately, neither of these requirements were even close to met in Mortal Kombat.  The cast’s abilities to fight are a joke.  Sonya Blade was played by Bridgette Wilson (the love interest in Billy Madison).   She was slow, her form was incorrect, and she didn’t look like a fighter.  On top of that, her acting was atrocious.  She did not act like Sonya Blade, which is why she is known as “the girl from Billy Madison.”  In all honesty, the perfect person to pick would have been Michelle Yeoh.  She just came off of Supercop (starring Jackie Chan), in which she proved that she can indeed fight.  Sure, Sonya Blade is white in the video game, but I would rather have someone who is both recognizable AND qualified for the role.  Sorry Linden Ashby fans, but I feel the same way about him.  Not only do his lines fall flat every time, but also he is not a great fighter.  If only we could have had someone like Yuen Biao, or at least someone who looks like a martial artist.

The first ten seconds explains it all.

Both movies suffer from poor choices in casting, mainly because they were both rush jobs and, as I mentioned, canceled out each other’s power.  Most of the time, competition creates the best products because everyone is trying to one-up each other.  Instead, SF and MK were attacking each other’s resources, causing weaker films.  Both movies were trying to do what The Matrix did—combine great martial arts with great storytelling.  Because of these two franchises’ aggressive competition, both failed miserably at achieving such a combination.  Both films did, however, succeed in the casting of their villains.  Bison (played by Raúl Juliá) and Shang Tsung (played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) did excellent jobs, as they both delivered memorable lines with unique, over-the-top performances.  What mainly made their performances so great was the emotion, unlike the actors who played the protagonists.  I don’t understand the logic behind an emotionless protagonist, the character that is supposed to be the most relatable.  The best characters are ones who play personas of themselves and amp them up.  Who is more iconic: Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry or Andrew Garfield in Amazing Spiderman?  Well, hopefully everyone knows the answer to that.  Good casting gives personas to the main characters.  Arnold Schwarzenegger does an amazing job at playing a character.  Sure, his persona is ridiculous, but think of all of his one-liners that are regularly quoted by people doing their best impression of his iconic voice.  For me, it would have been interesting to see Arnold play Kano, and be slightly more prominent in the movie.  Arnold can naturally play cocky, and the size difference between him and Michelle Yeoh would make the audience believe that she has no chance.  (But we all know what would happen).  If both of these movies went the Joel Schumacher route and built a cast that spurred people to start talking, more people outside of the fanboys would have went to go see this film.  Let Mortal Kombat be a lesson in filmmaking—no matter how cool the music, set designs, and costumes are, the wrong casting can rob a movie of its full potential.

This is what both of these movies needed.

Topic of the Week: What Happened to Taking Risks?

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

When the new X-Men: Apocalypse trailer was released, I cringed at the mere thought of watching it, after the bad taste that Days of Future Past gave me.  But, because I am a masochist, I watched it anyway.  And Holy Cannoli, did this not only look bad, but it was also emotionlessly bad.  For the first time, I had no feeling whatsoever from watching the trailer to a superhero movie.  It was that blah.  Make no mistake, feeling nothing is worse than even the most negative feeling when watching a trailer for what is supposed to be an epic, emotionally charged story.  Why were my emotions absent?  The trailer gave me the impression that the filmmakers did not want to do anything original.  Movies such as Apocalypse and Star Wars Episode 7 make me ask, do big movies take risk anymore?  The answer is no, and here are my reasons why.

Reason #1. – Lack of diversity

There was a time when superhero movies took risks—the early-to-mid-2000s.  For me, this was a fun time to love superhero films because there was something for everyone.  Bryan Singer’s modern look and depiction of X-Men, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, the ultra-violent and depressing revenge tale that is The Punisher, and the dark, grounded look of Nolan’s Batman.  Sure, there were stinkers (Daredevil, Hulk) but before Iron Man there was diversity.  Filmmakers were willing to be make movies that were 100% serious, in that they were devoid of self-aware humor, and were about well-developed characters struggling with personal conflicts.  Even the bad ones had memorable characters (see Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 3; it’s pretty glorious).

I don’t feel the emotion from any of the newer superhero/blockbuster films, mainly because all of them are ripped straight from preexisting comics.  There are no new takes on characters, such as, “what if Mary Jane was the first person Spider-Man fell in love with?”  Instead, the modern superhero/blockbuster film tries to do certain stories and situations that we’ve seen before.  I remember when I saw Amazing Spider-Man 2 (don’t ask); I had no investment when Gwen died because her death was the most talked-about Spider-Man comic book shock of the last forty years.  And if the problem’s not “oh, I’ve seen this before”, it’s “wow, they expect me to be emotional when a certain “shocking” event happens?”.  Case in point: Bucky in Captain America: The First Avenger.  In the comics, he is Cap’s best friend; in the movie, he is criminally underdeveloped and appears in a handful of scenes.  Yet, apparently we are supposed to care when he dies.  Now, when Ben Parker died in Spider-Man or when Cyclops died in X3 (I know, not a good movie), I either felt sad or pissed.  Why?  Because 1) the characters were developed to be likable and/or interesting and 2) the deaths were not done for shock value.  This leads me to—

Reason #2 – They don’t want you to invest in characters

Marvel’s films are the worst at one-dimensional characters, because none of them evolve or even have dramatic scenes.  In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they could have talked about Captain America being the man out of time.  Instead, they give us jokes that he has seen Star Wars, and doesn’t want to date anyone.  What the hell!  They have one of the best characters in one of the best stories and they screw it up!  Another character that criminally has no character is Iron Man.  One minute he tells us that he is a changed man and the next he is being a dick.  Iron Man has switched from being nice to a dick more times than a WWE wrestler.

Everything these characters do feels like they are going through the motions.  You get more emotions out of Peter Weller as RoboCop than any of the Avengers, especially the biggest idiot of them all—Thor.  After the first Thor came out, everyone was saying that the chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth was awful.  Yet, nothing improved for the sequel.  Their romance was a “driving force” for both of those films, but why should I care when their relationship is basically, “Hey, we think that each other’s hot, so let’s have children who will follow in our shallow footsteps!”  I’m sorry, but the relationships in these movies are as bad as Twilight.  It just doesn’t seem that way because right now it’s not cool to make fun of Marvel movies.

Reason #3 – The fans rule movies

I was listening to Chris Jericho’s (wrestler, singer, and actor) podcast, in which he stated, “If the fans rule the match, the match is not exciting.”  In my opinion, this rule also applies to movies.  After Godzilla (1998) tanked, fans clamored for a simple monster movie with a non-lizard Godzilla.  What they received in 2014 was a Godzilla movie that tried mightily to service them with not only a non-lizard and bigger Godzilla, but also two other monsters, PLUS major stars Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe.  The movie was also a direct sequel to the 1954 original (and it even showed footage from that movie).  Sure, fans got what they wanted and what they knew they were going to see, but they forgot to demand one thing—authenticity.  A movie is authentic when the filmmakers are making their own decisions and not servicing fans with a bunch of bells and whistles.

Reason #4 – Sequels

Nowadays, you don’t even need to see the movie, because the Internet and media bombard you with news about the sequel(s) before said movie even comes out.  Let’s look at Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I haven’t seen it because there is no point; based on the news that all of the stars are going to appear in future films, you know that they all live.  You also know that nothing earth-shattering happens, 1) otherwise people would actually be talking about it and 2) because we already know that Civil War directly follows this film, and the only notable consequence of it is that Ultron’s destruction has caused the government to enforce superhero registration.  Do I really need to watch Ultron to find out anything else, when I already know the aftermath?  Movie news nowadays spoils the movie as badly as a Wikipedia synopsis.  Why should I be invested when I already know who’s going to live or who’s going to be in it?  Don’t you think The Force Awakens would be more exciting if we did not know for sure whether or not Luke Skywalker is coming back for the eighth one?  Or that there will be a new villain in the eighth one?  Studios have become so franchise-crazy that they have robbed moviegoers of the true movie-viewing experience.  Franchises are not made to tell an engaging story; they are simply a safe way to keep people coming back to the theatres, and relieving all writers, producers, and filmmakers of their true purpose—generating new ideas and original ways to tell an old story.

Maybe one day moviegoers will be tired of spoiled, fan-servicing, and shallow cookie-cutter movies, and demand ones that actually take risks.

My pitch for “Fanboys Attack!”

By: Richie Watkins

Fanboys Attack Poster (2)

The following is my pitch for a short, satirical comedy (with action elements) called Fanboys Attack!   As with my previous blog, my pitch for The Doctors Who RobI am looking for your constructive feedback on the basic idea, the characters, and my casting choices.  Also, let me know who you’d like to see in the roles.

Premise

After proclaiming his disinterest in superhero films, an opinionated 8-year-old must defend himself from two angry, adult fanboys.

Summary

Once the fanboys are in his house, the boy, hiding, proclaims, “this is my opinion and I have to defend it!”.  From there, the boy uses his house’s intercom system to lure the blind-with-fanboy-rage fanboys into his traps, all the while fueling their rage by supporting his opinion that superhero movies are no longer interesting to him.  But, the fanboys have an edge to throw him off.  They fuel the boy’s rage by accusing him of being elitist and disrespectful of what other people like, and uncaring about the trials and tribulations of the filmmakers behind such films.  Can the boy, who’s alone at home, survive these mind games long enough to finally pummel these two nuisances out of his house?

Characters

Corbin—8 years old.  Witty and resourceful, Corbin is prepared for physical attackers; but is he ready for ones who try to mess with his psyche?  He believes that everyone’s disagreements should be civilized, so he becomes angry with disagreers who act uncivilized.  As a result, he stoops to that person’s level by means of condescension, name-calling, and, in this case, physical pain.  (One trap that the little rascal sets up is a Crisco-coated kitchen floor, with thumbtacks peppered throughout).  With Hollywood wizardry, Corbin would be played by a digitally de-aged Danny DeVito.

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Eric—55 years old.  He has been reading comics since he was 5 years old, and he is sure to be at every midnight showing of the next superhero movie.  Why, that old Eric, he even made a Facebook event out of going to see the newest film—The Avengers Meet the X-Men and Fantastic Four to Fight the Sinister Six.  But, no one came.  Eric lives alone.  He has a good-paying job, but can’t figure out why no woman will date him.  So, he spends his time online, insulting the intelligence and overall human worth of anyone who, no matter how diplomatically, points out even the most glaring flaw in a superhero film.  He realizes that his mission in life is to destroy Corbin.  He would be played by Pierce Brosnan.

 
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Benny—35 years old.  The other fanboy.  Benny didn’t actually become a fan until he saw 2012’s Avengers a record 104 times in theaters.  Ever since then, he has eaten up every movie and the most popular pieces of merchandise that Marvel has dished out.  He loves the movies so much because he enjoys the fun, the glee, of perfectly perfect people kicking the dastardly bad guy’s butt.  The comedy, specifically the meta humor, is what he likes the most about the films.  Like Eric, he thinks that everyone should be into fun superhero movies, “because they’re made for everyone!”  And when people disagree with him, he gets confused.  And when he gets confused, don’t get him near a keyboard!  Benny would be played by Matthew Lillard.

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Obviously, I’m not going to spoil all that happens, but what I can tell you is that the ending will show more fanboys attacking Corbin’s house.  It will be the set-up for the sequel called More Fanboys Attack!