Making marvel(ous) movies

It’s confession time…

I’m taking off the jacket, throwing my shirt and tie on the ground.  I will reveal my favourite t-shirt…A composite face of the Avengers.  Yes, my name is Pieter and I am a geek.  Have been since I can remember, even before it became cool.

You see, I really love the whole Superhero pop culture.  My wife knew about it, just didn’t realise it would explode into the big money-making entertainment industry that it is now.   She didn’t expect that her husband would one day be able to get a Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Thor and Green Lantern t-shirt in adult sizes.

I liked the t-shirts before Sheldon Cooper made it a fashion statement.  I liked the movies before The Dark Night changed them into art.  I even liked it before Joel Schumacher decimated the original batman franchise with Batman and Robin. I have enjoyed watching Christopher Reeve, Tobey Maquire (except in Spiderman 3), Heath Ledger, Michelle Pfeifer, Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey Jr put on their costumes, suits and metal to bring those characters who remained stuck in the pages of comic books, to life.

At 40, I am fortunately at the point in my life where I don’t give a rat’s ass for what my slight obsession may imply on any subconscious level.  My son thinks I am really cool, so that is where the argument starts and ends.  He specifically likes to show his friends my +200 strong lead figurine collection of Marvel heroes in my study.  (The trick is to take your obsession to the highest level of execution so that it becomes inspirational.)

What’s my point?  I saw Ironman 3 this weekend, jaw-droppingly great.  Thrashing opening ticket sales records across the globe,  proving that geeks are destined to rule the earth.  It has become another flag-ship of entertaining movie making.  Another feather in the cap for Marvel Studios, who is in desperate need of a bigger cap, I might add.

(This is not a movie review, although I tend to want to give it 5 stars, but this post is only a sound board for the mess that is my mind.)

This time I am pondering what ensures success of a movie adapted from original source material.  Yes, the obvious is true: Good source material, a great screenplay, the director’s vision, the technical skills of the crew and the casting of capable actors.  But what allows one movie, Ironman 3, to succeed and another Green Lantern, to flop?  My answer would be: The owner of the source material needs to be part of the creative process of film making.

The original author created these popular stories because he has put something he envisioned in his mind’s eye, to paper.  Who better to take those words and paragraphs and help translate it back into images for the big screen?  To proof my point, let’s just look at the characters in the stable of the comic book giant, of which they do not own the rights for movie making.  Sony has Spiderman, which they almost destroyed, Fox has X-men, which they almost destroyed and let’s not even start with my favourite team, the Fantastic Four.  If you want a money spinner, let the creators of the characters get involved in making the movies.  Treat the source material with respect to ensure that the built-in audience will join the masses queuing for tickets.

To be fair, let’s look at a few of my favourite movies that falls outside of the comic book genre.  There was Perks of a being a Wallflower, directed by Stephen Cbosky from a screenplay he adapted from his own novel.  We have The Hunger Games, produced and written by the author Suzanne Collins herself.  Closer, which was adapted for the big screen by Patrick Marber, based on his own play and then the South African born Neill Blomkamp who made District 9, based on his own short film.

Then we have the less appreciative authors who hated the final movie based on their work, like Stephen King’s reflections on The Shining and Allen Moore’s denial of any connection with the Watchmen.  Sour grapes? I think not.  You see writing is their art, so they need to protect it.  Movies as a visual art form, imprint what characters look like or how a scene is set up.  Conflict arise when this picture is different from the one that the author saw in his mind, when writing it originally.  (So always read the books prior to the release of the movie.)

The counter argument remains true; there are some great directors who saved superheroes (Christopher Nolan anyone), and there are even  more directors who has achieved the impossible, adapting published material to greatness, aka Peter Jackson.

The only purpose of this rant is to allow my frustration to settle on my desire for all the Marvel properties to revert back to them, so I can get decent adaptations of the characters I cherish and loved, growing up.  I want them to get their fair share of glory, just like Tony Stark.

(Good news is that the rights to Matt Murdock aka Daredevil has now drifted back to his parents, after being abused by his foster parents, 20th Century Fox.)

So stop annoying the fans, just give the frigging rights back to Marvel so they can continue doing what they have been doing so well, making Marvel(ous) movies.

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