Monday, March 2, 2015

Week of 03/02/2015

In Defense of Superhero Movies
So apparently there are those in the bowels of Hollywood that have a problem with superhero movies.  The stench of which wafted up like a foul fart during this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.
Jack Black, best known for playing rather large and obnoxious characters, decided to let this little gem rip like a bad burrito during the opening song: "Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get are superheroes: Superman, Spider-man, Batman, Jediman, Sequelman, Prequelman -- formulaic scripts!"  Shallow, “Hal”, really shallow.
Of course, I could possibly excuse his ribbing as simply him being an actor playing a role of a douchebag performer.  I used to be a stage actor myself in college, so I know that sometimes you just have to sing the song as it was written.  Then again, Mister Black is also one half of the comedic folk group Tenacious D, so there is a chance that he wrote the lyric himself, which would make him an actor playing the role of a douchebag performer singing a song written by a douchebag lyrist.
This comes a day after director Dan Gilroy dissed superhero movies during the Independent Spirt Awards. “Independent film, the foundation and everybody here today, I think are holdouts against a tsunami of superhero movies that have swept over this industry,” he said.
Gilroy, it should be noted, is married to Rene Russo, who co-starred in two superhero movies, “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World”.
It should also be noted that just hours after Black slammed superhero movies, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to “Birdman”, a movie about an actor that was best known for playing a superhero.  And the award for Best Animated Feature went to “Big Hero 6”, a computer-animated superhero movie.
Now before we go any further, I should point out that I am not only a huge fan of superhero movies, I’m also a creator and self-publisher of fan-made superhero comics.  So not only am I biased in my support of superhero movies, I create content that could be turned into the next big blockbuster movie for the Hollywood elite to pooh-pooh all the way to the bank.
Having said that, I have to ask Misters Black and Gilroy and all of the other Hollywood elitists that don’t care for this genre of money-making movies… what the hell is your malfunction?  What’s with all the hate, haters?
A “tsunami of superhero movies”?  There are maybe one or two superhero movies coming out in any given year from Warner Brothers, Sony, Fox, and Marvel Studios, not counting the direct-to-video animated releases.  Compare that to the orgy of so-called “horror” movies that come out every other month that could all be summed up by simply saying the word “jump-scare” a hundred times.  There are more movies made in any given year about teen angst than there are superhero movies, Mister Gilroy, so I have to seriously question your reasoning in singling out superhero movies.
“Opening with lots of zeros”?  I’m sorry, Mister Black, but which movie did you perform in that brought in over one billion dollars at the box office?  Yes, “billion” with a “B”.  That’s how much money “Marvel’s The Avengers” brought in.  One-point-five billion US dollars worldwide as of February 13th of this year.  That’s a lot of “zeros”.  And it’s still bringing in money for Marvel Studios!  How much money did you bring in, Mister “Nacho Libre”?
Of course this ongoing bias against superhero movies is nothing new.  Back in 2009, Hugh Jackman – best known for playing Wolverine in several “X-Men” movies – wondered why superhero movies get snubbed in the Academy Awards.  After all, Heath Ledger had to die to get his Best Supporting Actor award for “The Dark Knight”.  And “Superman – The Movie” had to get a special award for best visual effects because the Academy felt bad about snubbing it in 1979.
But let’s get brutally honest here… I strongly suspect the reason behind this elitist snubbing and bashing of superhero movies has less to do with some intellectual disdain of the subgenre and more to do with what these kinds of movies bring to the studios, namely money.
Superhero movies have a build-in loyal fan base.  Thousands, even millions of loyal fans that spend money every month on their regular comic book publications, that look forward to spending that money seeing their favorite heroes and villains fight it out on the big screen.  That’s money that the studios use to then cushion the losses from the more “hoity” movies made by people like Mister Gilroy and performed by actors like Mister Black.  So, really, the Hollywood elite are pooh-poohing the very hands that feed them.
And that brings me to the dirty not-so-little secret about these awards show, specifically the Academy Awards.  While the Hollywood elite pretend that these kinds of awards are meant to celebrate the best of the best, in truth they have always been designed to recognize the movies that they themselves think “should” have gotten the box office money.  In other words, movies like “Thor” and “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight” already got all of the rewards and recognition they deserved.  They got the fans and the box office money.
James Gunn, director of the highly-successful “Guardians of the Galaxy”, penned his own response to the elitist bashing and snubbing of superhero movies, which I agree with for the most part.  Except for this: “If you think people who make superhero movies are dumb, come out and say we're dumb.”  You’re not “dumb”, Mister Gunn.  Nor is the audience.  People that make superhero movies have a pretty high bar they have to meet from their audience.  Jack Black can give a mediocre performance in a grade-Z movie and nobody will really notice.  But Chris Pratt playing Star-Lord or Christian Bale playing Batman have to live up to their comic book characters, and if they fail, the fan base is merciless.  Just look at the ongoing online arguments about “Man of Steel” if you don’t believe me.
Superhero movies are really no different than the legendary tales of old.  Our ancestors used to be enthralled by tales of Hercules, Perseus, Thor, Samson, Ali Baba, the Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood, the Scarlett Pimpernel, and Sherlock Holmes.  Yesterday’s stories told in the round are today’s big and small screens, and the people that mock them or minimize their importance in inspiring generations past, present, and future, are really the “dumb” ones.

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