Editorial: Fan Boys Can Cry If They Want To, It’s Their Party!
It’s a good time to be a comic book movie fan. Every year, we are seeing more and more characters and properties being translated, not to just the small screen, but to the big screen in big-budget, box office busting films. I don’t think I’d ever see the day that a comic book movie would be the second most successful film in Hollywood history. Back before Bryan Singer’s X-Men film hit theaters, we were lucky to see a film based on a comic book hit theaters more than every three years or so. Sure, we had the iconic Superman series and the popular, but questionable Batman films started by Tim Burton and bastardized by Joel Schumacher. And then there were the occasional films like The Crow, Blade and Spawn. But once that X-Men franchise hit, Hollywood has never looked back, constantly looking to comic books and graphic novels for inspiration.
But as long as these films have been made, fan boys and girls have voiced their opinion and more often than not, they focus on the negative, using the motto “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” Thinking that because these were their beloved characters, it gave them…us the right to bitch and moan about everything the film makers got wrong in the films. Being that these films were such a new genre, many folks outside the nerd community laughed and scoffed and told them to suck it up and be happy that these films were being made. To be honest, I still kind of feel this way, being the ever-optimist, giving most of them the benefit of the doubt and just being happy that these films are being made. However, now that this genre is much more established and accepted by the general public, is it OK for fans to voice their negative opinions without being mocked and should the studios actually start listening to them?
When studios begin work on these, or any films, their main focus is to make money. Plain and simple.The fact that people actually enjoy the films is simply an added bonus, ensuring that these single films become profitable franchises. Continuity and faithfulness to the source is seemingly far less important. Let’s take a look at Singer’s X-Men film as an example. Fans know that the original X-Men team consists of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Iceman. However, in that 2000 movie, only two of those characters were a part of the team. This may not be a big deal to some, but what it did was completely ruin the franchise’s continuity from then on, and in doing so, ruining the potential of some really cool story lines and creating a domino effect that we are seeing today. This trend continued in the subsequent films, placing characters in stories and relationships that make absolutely no sense (I’m looking at you Wolverine and Gambit).
But if you look at things from the studio’s perspective, it kind of makes sense why the did what they did. Imagine you are trying to pitch the idea of a group of mutants with special powers in a time when Batman and Superman were really the only really successful comic book films. And then trying to fight for a decent budget. $75 million isn’t a massive budget now days when it comes to comic book films, but that was a pretty big gamble for Fox. Obviously, it paid off as the X-Men franchise is one of the more lucrative out there. However, we now have this problem of random characters showing up places they don’t belong. When First Class went into production, many fans were hoping they would take the opportunity to reboot, but instead, they only furthered the confusion.
One could argue that because these films are so hugely successful, it gives those “whiny fan boys” the right to argue the faithfulness of these adaptations. In comparison, We have The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug hitting theaters in a matter of days. Peter Jackson and company have taken one of the shortest books in Tolkien’s series and stretched it out into three movies, each of them over two hours long. In doing so, they have made some big changes, most notably, the addition of Orlando Bloom’s Legolas character, as well as the addition of an original character in Tauriel, being portrayed by Evangeline Lilly. Admittedly, I’m not a massive follower of the Tolkien world, but I’d think that fans would be rather perturbed by the inclusion of this character and I haven’t really heard many complaints. Granted, we don’t know exactly the extent of these two roles in the film, but if I were to make an assumption from the trailers and clips we’ve seen, both Tauriel and Legolas will not be just cameos or minor roles. Now, let’s say we have an adaption of a rather important comic book movie in which some of our favorite characters are assembled and they toss in a “made up” character in a fairly pivotal role in the film, would that bother you? Anyway, I’m deviating from my point a bit here.
I guess I’m saying that because these films are an acceptable genre, to the point that they are being nominated for major awards, does this give fans the right to demand that their voice be heard and that the adaptations that are being made be more true to their source material? For years now, the fan boy nation has been laughed at, mocked and labeled as a bunch of whiny basement dwellers. But I think it may be time to have their voices be heard. I realize that changes have to be made in order to accommodate technology and acceptability, but there is a line and I think that it’s time that line stops being crossed. Either way, I’ll continue on in my optimistic fashion and always give these films the benefit of the doubt and still be pleased as punch that I’m seeing the characters and stories on the big screen.
What say you, comic fans? Is it time that our voice is heard and studios actually heed our advice in order to create more faithful adaptions or are we destined to remain the basement dwelling whiners?