Some more thoughts on superhero films.

I wanted to touch on superhero films again for a few reasons. Obviously the first is that I have more to say. The second is that a friend of mine responded to my last post on the topic, which I’m taking as a writing prompt. Finally, I’m not to happy with that last post. I wrote it really late at night and dozed off in the middle of it. I forced myself to finish it when I woke up and before I went to sleep for the night. I dread to even look at it which is why I’m not even providing links to it like I usually would.

Anyway, my friend asked me if I had seen The Avengers and what I thought of it. He listed a few things that he had problems with, such as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s airship and Thor in general. I quite enjoyed that film, although I thought the entire middle section on the airship went on for too long. Like most of the superhero movies, I take it as a spectacle first, and if they give me a little more (for example, the social commentary of the X-Men films), then all the better. It isn’t until there’s something that’s really bad when I take issue with them.

It’s easy to look down over our noses at movies like this. After all, how could they compare to more intellectual or artistic films by Alain Resnais, Ingmar Bergman or Federico Fellini? To compare two different types of films to each other is almost foolish; after all, the word “movie” isn’t so restrictive. But as I’ve been catching up on my movie list I did have a level of snobbery when getting into the section of superhero movies. I included them because I get references to them all the time in podcasts and conversations at work. I might as well keep up if I can. I’m some cases I’m glad I did.

I also recognize that when watching these films that there’s a lot of elements that are taken from the comic books which otherwise wouldn’t be there. One has to make allowances. My friend was confused by the fact that Loki had a staff when he’s from a more advanced society. He wondered why Loki wouldn’t use an iPad instead. That’s probably because a “magical” staff is more entertaining on-screen. Besides, I agree with Greg Proops’ disdain for scenes with computers in movies. Amazing Spider-Man had several scenes in which Peter Parker kept looking up stuff on his computer. It really was lame.

I have one more thought on superhero movies that I’d like to share. There’s been some controversy lately about the choice of Ben Affleck as the next Batman. I personally don’t have a problem with this. I think too many people are trying to think of Affleck as Batman himself and how tragic it would be. But what they don’t realize is that when you’re casting the lead character in any Batman movie you’re not casting Batman, but Bruce Wayne. Batman is just a costume which is often worn by stunt doubles anyway. That’s why I didn’t have a problem with George Clooney even though that was one of the worst Batman movies made. The only exception to my rule would be Adam West who was brilliant in the Batman costume, but that show was a different beast.

Maybe I should stop trying to separate comic books and their respective franchises from what we consider more “literary,” “intellectual” or “artistic” works. I know that especially in terms of the movies these are primarily money-makers for pure entertainment but the truth is that they’re still valid forms of storytelling. Who am I to be such a snob?


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