What a year! 2017 has been an incredible time for comic book movie fans around the world. We’ve seen a plethora of projects hit the big screen, dominate the box office, and bring in a bucket load of cash – and now we can all relax and prepare for next year’s impressive release schedule.
Looking back at the year gone by, there’s been so much to take in and digest. As fans of this medium, we do tend to suffer through a lot as we defend these films and back them against those who view them as nothing more than kids’ stuff. Sometimes, though, we also create our own chaos and make mountains out of molehills as we lose our minds to every tiny rumor, morsel of news, or internet troll baiting us into an argument.
So, what can we take away from this year and have we learned anything? There are a few things that we’d like to share with you, and we’ll be discussing them more in-depth on the next page. Naturally, we encourage you to read through until the end and then let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section down below.
The Scrutiny Is Getting Out Of Hand
It’s true that comic book movies get more chatter and attention than any other films, except for maybe Star Wars. The superhero news business is an industry in itself and there’s no shortage of information to keep the fans glued to their screens and talking to their friends.
That said, there’s also a dangerous rumor mill that often gets out of control and contains more drama than a whole 10 seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Seriously, a day can’t go by without some crisis or another being reported on and the future of the project being questioned. It’s tiring to debunk some of these ridiculous rumors, since everyone has an “exclusive scoop” and “inside source” nowadays – more times than not, it’s often crap that someone made up on Reddit.
The magnifying glass is permanently on this medium and it’s suffering because of it. The films are being judged differently, reactions are way out of proportion, and the fandom doesn’t exactly paint itself as the picture of mental health with some extreme behavior. It’s unhealthy and risky since all these factors could result in an implosion, because of these unrealistic high standards put on the genre.
In 2018, it might be worthwhile to take a step back and ask if we aren’t setting ourselves up for disappointment by setting unattainable standards for these flicks. Yes, it’s fun to be part of the fandom, but some days we really make Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons look like the archetype for every comic book fan.
It’s Been The Best Year In Terms Of Overall Quality
While a lot of people thought that 2016 was set to be the “Year of Comic Book Movies,” there were more than a few missteps that left fans disappointed with the output. Look, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been by any means, but did anyone really expect 2017 to top last year’s phenomenal releases?
Say what you will about ranking this year’s films, but there hasn’t been a single bad comic book movie in 2017. Sure, we might argue about a few minor issues with the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Justice League, but they aren’t terrible films in the slightest, so don’t fall into the internet’s hyperbole trap and love for exaggeration.
Every release has delivered something and not one of them feels like it belongs on a list of the worst superhero films of all time – if you feel differently, kindly remember Joel Schumacher’s last contribution to the medium. That alone should inspire us to recognize that the future of this genre is looking brighter than it ever has before and be optimistic for what’s to come.
There Is No Superhero Fatigue
With Justice League underperforming at the U.S. box office (due to high expectations), it’s led to many proclaiming that superhero fatigue is setting in and audiences aren’t going to watch these movies in droves like they used to. Well, it’s true that more was expected from the DC team-up spectacle in terms of domestic earnings, but the facts about comic book movies in 2017 say there’s no fatigue.
If you look at the top 10 highest-grossing films for the year, four of the films currently on the list are superhero movies – and Justice League‘s final tally won’t be known until it finishes its run on the circuit, so it could still make an appearance later on. This means that with four superhero-related properties on the list, we’re exactly in the same position as we were last year.
Fatigue isn’t setting in – it’s just been a bad year overall for big releases with numerous films falling below box-office predictions (remember Blade Runner 2049?). The issue here is the financial expectations being set by the studios for each film in this day and age. Unfortunately, expecting every movie to reach a billion dollars isn’t going to happen and expectations need to be tempered. Let’s face it: money is getting tighter for every household and we need to be selective over what we watch at the cinema.
We’re Sick Of CGI Villains
We won’t say that this is something purely discovered this year, as it’s been coming for a while now, but the audiences are growing tired of CGI villains. If you look at the biggest complaints of superhero films in the past two years especially, it’s revolved around the usage of a big CGI villain in the third act. Sometimes, the effects are so bad that you don’t know if you’re watching a movie or playing a video game. It’s simply become too much and needs to stop, pronto.
While special effects and over-the-top characters are part and parcel of comic book movies, we’re clamoring for more real and grounded villains to relate to. The whole giant energy beam in the sky angle is becoming a weary trope – and it’s time for change.
How about we forget about the intergalactic threats and find us some of the Earth’s finest rogues instead? There are many of them waiting for their chance to shine – and actors who need the work – so why are we still bothering with CGI antagonists?
Lower-Budget Superhero Films Are The Future
After the expensive lesson of Justice League, there’s no doubt that studios will be revisiting their model for making these types of films. No longer is it a guarantee that you can drop a lot of money on these films, not care about quality, and rake in a profit in return. Those days are long gone, my friends.
Looking at a film like Deadpool, which cost significantly less than most comic book movies nowadays, it shows the importance of valuing story and making a good movie over showy effects and stages. It almost singlehandedly proved that it’s possible to make a terrific film under $100 million and the audiences will still love it.
While everyone loves gigantic sets and extraordinary action sequences, there’s the potential to make better movies if the filmmaking stance isn’t geared towards style over substance. Sure, still give us the good stuff, but please deliver a decent movie while you’re at it. Through their expensive failures, we think the studios are starting to realize the importance of this, too.
Emphasis On The Shared Cinematic Universe Is Ending
It had to happen eventually. While we all enjoy shared cinematic universes and the infinite possibilities for crossovers and our favorite characters all on screen at the same time, it was never going to last forever.
You see, the problem is that it’s getting more and more difficult to convince a bunch of actors to dedicate their entire lives to a cinematic universe and be available for every crossover or appearance. While the regular work is certainly welcome for them, the bigger stars prefer to diversify and do other films as well, and not be held ransom by one studio.
Additionally, the mechanics of a shared cinematic universe can be restrictive to storytelling. If you choose to showcase an older Batman, as the DCEU did for example, it’s harder for you to go back and show the stories from his earlier years since it would be a time jump that’s difficult to explain and rather messy to execute.
In the long run, it makes sense to de-emphasize the cinematic universe and focus on standalones, with maybe one or two team-up movies scattered sporadically. We don’t think anyone will complain if this becomes the path of future efforts as it’ll allow more creative freedom to the filmmakers, which can only be a good thing.
There’s Room For Something Else Besides The Marvel Formula
If you look at Logan, the film has no right to work in 2017. It’s a dark, gritty, R-rated affair that doesn’t pander to the general audience – and it’s certainly not as fun as some of the other X-Men movies.
What it is, though, is an exceptional motion picture. It breaks the mold of what a comic book movie should be. Yes, it’s based on a superhero, but it would be a powerful and relatable story even without the superhero element. It isn’t generic or cookie-cutter in the slightest, as it aims to tell the best narrative possible and break boundaries while doing so.
There’s a belief that in order to be successful a comic book movie needs to follow the Marvel formula of fun and humor, but Logan and Wonder Woman showed us this isn’t always the case. There’s a place for different kinds of superhero films and studios need to start trusting and encouraging their filmmakers to do something different. This, we believe, will be the key to keeping this genre alive for many years to come.
Tell us, what did you learn from this year’s comic book movie slate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.