Rules and Guidelines for Watching Comic Book Movies

Rules and Guidelines for Watching Comic Book Movies

Some people just don’t ‘get’ comic book movies.  Critics, or more critical moviegoers at least, analyze the movies as if they are watching Citizen Kane, fretting over characterization and plumbing for deep meaning.  On the other hand, you have the comic book fanboys, who examine every teaser frame by frame, looking for inconsistencies in every facet of a comic book character’s on-screen interpretation.  If they complain about the wrong boots, or you catch them zooming in on Thor’s chest (but not a shirtless scene), or they start a Tumblr complaining about the shade of red on Magneto’s uniform, you’ve found a fanboy.

Neither one has a good time at your typical comic book movie, though.  The ‘critics’ (and I don’t just mean the ones that write for newspapers) are perpetually disappointed that Wolverine speaks in trailer-friendly quips and that his claws and hair are the most recognizable aspects of his character.  The fanboy complains that Wolvie is too tall, the hair isn’t big enough, the claws are the wrong shape, whatever.  The costume is too shiny, the collar is too tall, the cape is too short, he’d never say THAT, she’s WHOSE sister, why did they use THAT logo??

This is not to say that every comic book geek is like this, far from it.  Only the vocal minority that takes to the tubes as soon as the first teasers and trailers and stills and concept art leak out at AICN or wherever.  The at least the high-minded critics have to wait until the movie is able to be reviewed to annoy you.  Anyway, I thought I’d give some tips on movie watching for comic book adaptations, to keep things fun.

  • Changes are OK.  This is probably the biggest hurdle with adaptations, especially of comic books – plot points will change, costumes might be different.  THIS IS GOOD.  I’d hate to see something that is a line by line rehash of something I had read.  It’s a different medium, so of course things will be different.  Embrace it!
  • Temper your expectations.  I think a couple of fantastic comic book movies have unfairly raised expectations for the rest.  Most of these movies are going to land somewhere between Elektra and The Dark Knight on the spectrum of bad/good.  You can hope for better, but if a particular movie falls just short, it’s OK.
  • Do not excuse bad direction or acting.  On the other hand, these movies are attracting big names for stars and directors, so individual performances should be decent.  I’m looking at you, Brett Ratner.  I twitched at just about everything Magneto said in The Last Stand, seemed like Ratner had no feel for the character.  It’s not his script, but, standing on the set, you have to know a line isn’t working.  Or that there’s a scene where saying nothing is better.
  • Enjoy the good parts.  Even if a comic book movie is not the greatest, there might still be parts that are good.  They usually have a little bit of everything, some humor, plenty of action, and if you are lucky, some real emotion.  If one part falls flat, sigh and wait for the next fight scene.  That’s the only way The Phantom Menace is watchable for me, just watching the Jedi fights.

Do you have any other tips?  Disagree? Amazon Link, thanks for the support!