Some of us like to bitch and moan about the horde of movies that come each year targeting the summers. We like to complain because, usually, these movies aren’t catering to the artistically sensitive or the intellectually stimulated crowd that we’re a part of, but the popcorn munching audience that just loves to witness a great spectacle on the big screen instead of a gripping story-line with character build-up. But the truth is; these aren’t two different groups of film consumers, but often the same people.
There are days when you feel like watching a movie that makes you think, makes you feel and one that quenches the thirst of your soul. And then there are days when you just want to sit back, relax and watch robots fighting each other.
This is where films from the comic lore come in. Franchises like Transformers, the Marvel Cinematic Universe & DC Entertainment Universe are successful because, somewhere, they strike that sweet spot between all these different consuming patterns when it comes to movies. These films are found on an informed background that is a collective nostalgia of people who grew up on action figures, comic books and cartoons in the 80s & 90s, and they’re translated into films made for all ages in the 21st century. This makes for an enticing cocktail that draws an army of geeks out of their homes to watch the latest movie, and also the kid who’s hearing about it for the first time. If you’re one of the intellectual cinema junkies, much like myself, you feel less guilty watching comic book movies because you keep telling yourself that these characters are well developed and these stories are not mindless.
You tell yourself, and realize it to be true, that Superman’s struggle is one of being a misfit in a different world. Spider-man seems most relatable when you see him grappeling with a stressful youngster’s life navigating through issues at home, with friends hyped up on hormones and everyone looking down on you. These little realizations were seeded long before the movies attained their current puberty in our popular culture. But that’s it. More often than not, the films are nothing as compared to their comic book counterparts. The characters aren’t even close to their original depictions. I’m not against a filmmaker’s personal take on it, but its just sad to see half hearted depictions sometimes. Look at the Fantastic Four films for instance, or even the latest Independence Day sequel.
Movies like King Kong, Godzilla, Justice League, The Avengers and even Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them are being remade and/or being converted into a franchise spanning a universe of their own because they strike nostalgia. They bring back fond memories from the childhood of an entire generation that is now their prime target audience. These are people who’ve grown up in either the 80s or the 90s, and are either young adults or have families of their own. These are the strongest influencers of the nostalgic elements of their own childhood. And that’s what gets the other generations playing the game, because if a large group initiates the hype, the smaller groups would simply ride along. This is exactly what we saw happen with Pokemon Go as well.
And just like Pokemon Go planning a return this year, The Mummy being remade with Tom Cruise, King Kong entering Godzilla’s universe of a massive monster movie franchise, Marvel and DC dropping TV shows and movies like crazy to one-up each other, there seems to be little hope for original franchises to come up and own the stage.
But its never too late.