In spite of critics’ claiming that comic book movies will go the way of the Spaghetti Western, the tour de force of superhero blockbusters shows no signs of stopping as we embark on another new year. 2016 saw a host of comic based movies appear, with DC Comics entering the arena with two major blockbusters, thus marking the debut of their cinematic career. Marvel, naturally, not to be out done, came out fighting with a few of their own, both seeing massive box office success.
Please note: I’ve only included Marvel and DC in the comic book movies of 2016. I don’t watch the X-Men movies, as I feel that 20th Century Fox do nothing but butcher the entire franchise. I’m really hoping that it goes the way of Superman and ends up back in the Marvel canon where it belongs! I also haven’t included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because I’m 28 and poorly CGI’d turtles are not my thing (although, they may have their place on a hungover Sunday afternoon).
Marvel vs. DC – who came out on top?
Admittedly, I’ve found the cinematic offerings of 2016 somewhat lacklustre. However, will readily admit that this probably has a lot to do with the fact that the superhero line up for 2017 looks so frickin’ awesome, I’ve been wishing the year away.
I almost forgot to put this in – February seems like such a long time ago, that I genuinely thought Deadpool was a 2015 affair. I mean, I wrote a blog a while ago regarding how I felt about Deadpool, so there’s not too much to say other than I thought it was excellent. While definitely not a superhero movie for everyone, it was just as I’d always wanted to see Deadpool on the big screen – thank you Ryan Reynolds, you sexy Canadian God.
Captain America: Civil War
Civil War definitely lived up to the general hype from fans and critics this year, offering a cinematic treat for all who flocked to the cinema to see it. While I do feel it was a little rushed, and that Scarlett Johansson’s character still hasn’t fully recovered from the unfortunate Age of Ultron incident, I still sat on the edge of my seat as The Cap and Iron Man slugged it out on opposite ends of the battle field.
Side note: I was also ridiculously impressed with the inclusion of Spider-Man in Civil War too; I thought his introduction into the Marvel fold was excellently executed, and FINALLY portrayed Peter Parker the way I’ve always wanted to see him on screen: as a playful, intrigued and genuinely enthusiastic teenage superhero, not as a melancholy, wooden, awkward douche face like before.
I don’t think I’ll win any geek points for this admission, but I still haven’t seen Doctor Strange. While my interest was initially piqued by seeing Benedict Cumberbatch tackle The Doc, I was less impressed by the blatant lack of regard to the source material. I am, of course, talking about the unfortunate white-washing of Doctor Strange’s mentor, by replacing the traditionally Asian male role, with Tilda Swinton – a blatantly white woman. At first, I thought I could still stay on board with the movie, and accept it for what it was, but after hearing Marvel and co. try to defend themselves against the decision, with such poor excuses – appeasing to its Asian fan base by casting white woman, or attempting not to piss off the Tibetans by not acknowledging the Tibetan character in the comic book at all, just seemed so ridiculous that it put me off the movie entirely, and it still remains on the bottom of my ‘to watch’ list, as the year draws to a close.
Batman V Superman
In short, I didn’t mind Batman V Superman too much, but the more I think and talk about it, the more all of the things that niggled away at me as the movie played out, begin to annoy me more, that if I watch it again, a massive nerd rage will ensue.
The downfall of Dawn of Justice, in my opinion, is that there wasn’t enough said about some really imperative comic book references in the film’s content. For example, yet again, the audience were given insight into Batman’s origins – i.e. the dead parents bit – but, given that Affleck’s character was set well into his superhero career, you’d think there’d be something better to mention than his well-known and established origin, right? Like, perhaps, that he’d met the majority of his rogue gallery and had dealt with his main foe numerous times, that he’d lost people he’d cared about etc. which would have set up the camera pan to the Robin suit covered in Joker writing so much better. Honestly, in my opinion, unless you know the comic books well, you will have no idea that Batman’s tiny glance is at all a reference to Death in the Family; one of the greatest Batman comic books ever written. To not give that moment the proper credit was so unfortunate; it’s so important, not only to Batman’s character development, but why he is so wary of Superman in the first place.
I think this inadvertent negligence is perhaps what made Dawn of Justice a bit of a flop, and prompted Ben Affleck’s perma-sad-face in all of the press junkets. What’s more, it puts the future of Batman into uncertain territory, as this blatant disregard for the comic book source material doesn’t bode too well for the future success of the franchise.
If you’re a long time reader of The Geek, Simple. you’ll know that I did have my fair share of misgivings about seeing one of my favourite DC characters portrayed on the big screen. My worry as that Harley Quinn was going to be misunderstood and misrepresented by the actress who took her on, or the director who misplaced her importance in the DC canon. After seeing the first images of Margot Robbie dressed in her teeny tiny glitter shorts, did feel that Harley Quinn was going to be reduced to nothing more than a gun slinging sex kitten – and while there were definitely over male gaze references abound throughout the movie, I felt that Margot Robbie diverted that attention and was the driving force behind getting Harley Quinn seen for the vitally important DC character that she is.
I do have to point out that the reshoots were what made the movie; the attempt to draw the audience back in after the Dawn of Justice flop with a few Marvel style giggles was imperative to the movie’s success, and in my opinion, it was definitely Harley Quinn that brought the majority of the giggles. I do feel that the movie could have been executed better, and that perhaps different source material could have been used, but overall, I think it was one of my favourite superhero movies of 2016, if not the most favourite.
I’m also pretty pleased that Harley Quinn’s importance has been recognised and that featuring her in something like Gotham City Sirens will only increase DC’s success and potential for longevity in the future of the film franchise.