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Comic Book Fans – Story Limits

08 May

I’m finally going to see the new Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie. There won’t be many surprises for me in the movie as it seems to follow the original story arc.

By the time number 4 rolls around the studios abandon the series

By the time number 4 rolls around the studios reboot the series

I’ve always been a fan of the Marvel genre as opposed to DC Comics. It started when I was a youth and first saw / purchased – Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Spiderman comics. Of all the ones that originated in the 1960’s, Spiderman had the most relate-able story line. It was the character flaws and the emotional issues involving the lead character which made it stand out. As hard as DC tried, they made their characters far too distant and almost perfect. Superman was by far the most difficult to believe simply because almost nothing affected him. Even his personal relationship with Lois Lane seemed contrived.

There were several attempts to gain traction with comics on TV and the movies and mostly they came off as poor remnants of past Broadway humor. It wasn’t until Tim Burton directed with Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, where adults could begin to enjoy what Hollywood already saw in box office potential.

The release of Superman, directed by Richard Donner with Christopher Reeve in the role a decade before this film, was enjoyable, but the severe editing by the studio and the dismissal of Richard Donner before the second film was released, gave it a somewhat wooden quality. The second Superman was turned into camp humor once again when they turned over the directorship to Richard Lester. If you haven’t seen the remastered Richard Donner version of Superman II, I urge you to watch it. It improves greatly on the release as seen back in 1980.Hulk smash poodles

The DC Comics movies that have enjoyed success, seemed to run their course by the 3rd movie. More were attempted in Superman and Batman, however the fans and the critics didn’t like number 4 & beyond. The 3rd movie seems the limit so far for Marvel. Perhaps the one movie that could still have something left in the tank would be Iron Man. It’s 3rd outing also seemed to suggest the continuance of the character may just be in the Avengers II movie. All of the Hulk movies have performed badly in my eyes. Perhaps the worst was the first one where the Hulk had to fight off giant gamma irradiated poodles. Whoever thought to write that in along with the hiring of Nick Nolte as Bruce Banner’s father, should have their guild credentials stripped.

Sony has supposedly approved of a 3rd and potentially 4th Amazing Spider-Man film, but here’s the rub, [SPOILER ALERT] the second outing of the Amazing Spider-Man series eliminates a lead character. When Marvel creators came up with a story line about Spider-Man, they attempted to break the mold. They knew their target audience were essentially adolescent men. The fem-fatal or damsel in distress worked for decades but this time they wanted to shock their followers, so rather than a successful rescue of the girl friend of Peter Parker / Spiderman, they have her killed.

Here’s the problem using this plot device now. This story line has been repeated (often). It’s a setup to serve a purpose in defining the lead character but when you take apart the story-line for Spider-Man, the appeal of the hero and thus the movie is in character development. This time around they gave a strong showing for Gwen Stacey. They didn’t do that with the Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire series. Emma Stone portrays a modern woman rather than the 1960’s prior girl friend. She’s shown to be every bit as heroic, smart, and resourceful as Andrew Garfield is in these films. When you kill off a strong leading character and put more emphasis on the villains, this tends to limit the appeal beyond the normal range of youthful exuberant movie goers.

Christopher Reeve & Terence Stamp - Superman II

Christopher Reeve & Terence Stamp – Superman II

I believe, if you don’t have strongly appealing and identifiable characters, then the series begins to lose audience interest. After all, the movie isn’t named “Electro”, “Goblin”, or “Rhino”, but when you add in another screen appealing protagonist, it’s best not to eliminate them just so you can follow a 40+ year-old plot-line that has become cliché through repetition. *The definition of a fem-fatal killed off as a plot device has been called, “woman in refrigerator”, so named after a 1994 Green Lantern comic where Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend was murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator.

How will fans accept this series going forward when the next-girl, Mary Jane Watson becomes part of the inner Spidey cirlce? Will this self-limit the series once more or will the anticipation of perhaps facing 6 or more “baddies” at once make box office cash-ola? Remember all of the criticism of Spiderman 3 because of too many villains at once? Perhaps too we can recall the critics complaining about the Man of Steel, when Superman ends up snapping the neck of General Zod. How quick we seem to forget Superman II.

We shall see how this works tonight when I watch it.

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Posted by on 08/05/2014 in Action, Actors, Comics, Entertainment, Fantasy, Hollywood, Icons, Popular Culture, Writing

 

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