Op Ed: “The Death of the Superhero” my A$$

elektra1 Op Ed:  The Death of the Superhero my A$$

A financial report whose timing couldn’t be more… um, interesting, has just hit the web pronouncing the death of the superhero film franchise.  On the eve of the biggest comic convention this side of Tijuana, Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov released a report citing that superhero films are failing at the box office and that investors should heed their warning: “The chances of finding a breakout property are diminishing fast.”

Since the more recent breakthroughs in CGI technology over the past decade, there has been a fervent crop of comic to film productions.  But only four franchises have really taken off: Spiderman, Batman, X-Men and Iron Man. This is because, according to the report, the best characters and stories have already been developed.  So as the studios sift through what’s left of the comic book characters, it will be more and more difficult to find a character (or group of characters) that will catch on with wider audiences.  Because of the high production costs attached to superhero flicks – partly because of CGI, investors will find it risky to put their $$ toward any of these types of productions.  What’s more, if nobody cares about the movies, then no one will buy the merchandise, either.  That doesn’t bode well for companies like Disney, the grandpappy of film merchandising.

But is the problem really with the comic characters or is it with the major studios?  In the Comic-Con scene alone, there are many out there who have become disillusioned with the way the studios have swooped in and taken over. As the comic subculture has moved into the mainstream and hundreds of thousands descend on the more infamous cons, many think they’ve become a zoo, a virtual madhouse, and welcome a transition back to the more intimate cons of yore.  Maybe there is a message in there, somewhere, that big studios are so big, so out of touch, they completely miss the essence of what it is they’re trying to tap into in the first place.

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Casting has always been a major point of contention with comic film characters.  That’s definitely been hit or miss over the years with casting choices being influenced by an obvious variety of motivations.  Whether the actor is a personal favorite of the director’s  or the studio wants to cash in on a certain actor’s popularity in general, one wrong casting move and you’ve blown the entire character, which in many cases means the entire film as well.  At the very least (and by their very definition) the actors should probably first be able to act.

punisher20german20theatrical20poste Op Ed:  The Death of the Superhero my A$$

Film financiers might want to pay as much, if not more attention to who is making the comic to film adaptations as to which characters are being adapted.  If we look at the films that worked versus the ones that didn’t, it’s easy to see where some failed. More recently, we have the perfect example of the Green Lantern.  That was like CGI overload, and not in a good way. Not only that, the characters were poorly written.  Blake wasn’t very lively as she was shown piloting a fighter plane in the beginning of the film then clopping around in stilettos dressed like a secretary for the rest of it.  As for the big, nebulous smoke monster villain with the skull face and the glowing eyes, I mean, who was that guy scary to?

One thing the studios definitely need to do is remember who their demographic is. For instance, from her first introduction into the Dardevil comic, Elektra was too complicated of a character to be PG-13. Her multi-faceted relationship with Matt Murdock alone would’ve gone way over most pre-teens’ heads.  As her character developed over the years, particularly with the release of Frank Miller’s Elektra: Assassin limited series, Elektra was pushing the boundaries of what even might be considered a rated R film.

Maybe they’re holding up the Harry Potter franchise as some sort of barometer to aspire to.  And you know what?  Maybe they should.  The casting for those films has been superb.  We’ve seen some of the greatest actors of this era pass through Hogwarts.  The set designs, the writing… hello, the writing, has all been – for the most part – magical.  There’s real love in those films, and passion, an obvious desire to put out something worth remembering and a dedication to what lies at the center of it all.  But maybe those are just concepts investors can’t wrap their wallets around.

Green Lantern Op Ed:  The Death of the Superhero my A$$

[Source:  Deadline]

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