As a comic book fan, and an appreciator of many of the great characters/stories therein, why is it that I should still harbour doubts about the upcoming release schedule?
Well, for a start, its overclogged. These films have become so popular that even minor characters and villains are beginning to get their own dedicated films. This is not fundamentally a bad thing, but phrases such as ‘cranking them out’ and ‘scraping the barrel’ come to mind. And when the genre becomes oversaturated and diminishes in quality due to overloading, there’s always the risk that the big companies will just give up on them as the money dries up.
There are already an extraordinary amount of comic-book inspired films on release and in production. But as the big comic-book houses plum their depths for new films based on more abstract and little known characters, who is going to go and see them? Upcoming projects such as Thor and the recently announced Dr. Strange aren’t inherently uninteresting, but those characters carry so little weight compared to international mainstays like Batman and Spiderman that it will be much more difficult to sell them. Green Lantern and the Magneto spin-off are further examples; the list goes is endless.
The real fear is undoubtedly born out of fandom, which admittedly a lot of people will not share; this is the reason why most average cinemagoers will tell you that Spiderman 3 is a fun, exciting film. As a long-time fan of the character, it is impossible for me to watch that film without being filled with rage. A lot of the time bad films – or even average ones – grow on you with repeated viewings. That film goes the other way. So I suppose mishandling of characters is the primary concern.
Which is why the announcement of the continuation of the Spiderman series is a double-edged sword, as is the rumoured Venom spin-off. What needs to be avoided is a parallel situation to the one that the computer game faithful find themselves in: going to the cinema to watch films based on their favourite titles and never really thinking they’ll be any good. It’s throwing money away just to support a franchise; paying for two hours of boredom and irritation based on a tiny hope that this time they might have got it right. And they never do.
Becoming the monumental cash-generator that comic book movies have is both a blessing and a curse. Fans get more films and higher quality productions, but also more potential for disappointment. Maybe its an ungrateful sentiment; after all, ten years ago nobody would have imagined we’d have comic-book films the quality of The Dark Knight and X-Men 2 coming out each year. Perhaps the message is simply not to expect too much; great successes will hopefully always overshadow myriad disappointments. That said, I will still never forgive Sam Raimi for Venom.