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Archive for September, 2012

Marvel’s The Avengers and why it works so well

Greetings all! It’s been a long time since I’ve created a blog post here, but I have just had some thoughts I need to get out of my head.  Beware, this is where my “geek” side kind of comes out, so if you never cared for The Avengers or superhero movies in general, you might want to just kind of skip this one.

So this was a summer full of superhero movies. Between The Amazing Spider-man, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises, this was the summer of the geeks. We don’t need another Revenge of the Nerds movie, the nerds have had their revenge. They’ve won. The most talked about movies this summer were, you guessed it, comic book movies. So why is it that The Avengers is breaking records (so they say), but The Dark Knight Rises, a pretty much equally anticipated movie, isn’t kicking the Marvel team to the curb?

In my opinion, it boils down to this: film SERIES vs. film TRILOGY. The first one works. The second one, while still doable, isn’t going to be as impressive.

In this day and age, a franchise’s true success lies in its staying power. Nolan’s Batman films are a trilogy. The have a clearly defined beginning (Batman Begins), middle (The Dark Knight), and end (The Dark Knight Rises). And that’s all well and good. he had it story to tell, and he told it. How effectively he told it, well that’s up to you. Personally, I enjoyed the films a lot, though I could easily see that they weren’t without flaws. But either way, the films amount to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Sorry Bats…

This format is arguably the same format taken by the previous Spidey film trilogy. And that was literally Spider-Man 1, 2, and 3. Each part was a literal sequel to the last one. And there’s been an announcement that they’re planning film trilogy with The Amazing Spider-Man, as well. Which is pretty much given, as they made it very clear that they were setting up a running story with the first film.

As a friend of mine said recently (paraphrased more or less), “Wow, they’re planning a trilogy? Big surprise. I’ll be more impressed if they plan to have more than 3 movies.” Needless to say, I wholeheartedly agree.

This is where Marvel’s cinematic universe steps in and pounces no them all. Now I am a DC guy through and through, I always have been, and I always still will be. But Marvel definitely has the edge here. And here’s why. Marvel Studios has gone on record saying they’re not looking to do any “trilogies.” They’re trying to create a last film series, where the movies can continue on and eventually just replace actors as they need to, a la the James Bond films. They’re not telling a story in multiple parts. They’re telling self-contained stories in each film that just all still happen to be connected to the other films.

And that’s why it works.

Say what you will about the Burton/Schumacher films, but they did what DC needs to have been doing all along: create a film series. There’s a great line in Batman Forever that really stands out as great development in that series:  “You see, I’m both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Not because I have to be. Now… because I choose to be.” That line basically sets up what could have been an INFINITE amount of sequels. And it was headed that way, too, until they dropped the ball with Batman & Robin, and there went that. (Man, between Batman and Superman, those DC movies really don’t have strong fourth films.)

The Bat-nipples and, err… large codpieces didn’t help matters, either…

Anyways, in essence, that’s what DC is lacking. You can’t really continue a film series with Nolan’s universe because, well, it had an end. Any film series continuing on would either invalidate the end that was established with TDKR, or we’d just eventually end up having another TDKR-type situation with the new guy. (Come on, the movie’s been out for almost two months now, so let’s not pretend we don’t all know how it ended.)

To trump the Avengers, DC needs to create a film SERIES again. The Avengers films are continuing stories that happen to all share a universe. As people who read comics books and watch shows that continue on for years, we want the ever-continuing franchise. A trilogy can be great, but at the end of the day, it will still just be a trilogy. Superhero movies need to break beyond the “trilogy” mindset and go the “lasting series” route. I hope that the next DC superhero movies can finally go beyond that to establish a successful, lasting franchise.

But those are just my thoughts on it. What are yours?



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