Saturday, August 13, 2016

So, there is more to it than just costumes?

Ramblings Post #318
Twenty five years ago I wanted to write a comic. Okay, I've wanted to write a comic for longer than that, but twenty five years ago I sat down, created a alternate universe, populated it with characters, made some maps, wrote a history, write a dense and detailed story line...found out that I really like the process of world building just as much as writing. I got started on some other things, but that experience helped me understand the comics I'd been reading as more than just pictures on a page. It's the understanding that's elusive. As a lot of people are finding out at Warner Brothers.

With the arrival of Suicide Squad on the heels of the poorly conceived BvS, two things are becoming increasingly clear: One, you can't just put people in tights and call it a superhero movie, and Two: DC doesn't know what it's doing. Or rather, the people doing DC movies don't know what they're doing. 

This was there template. They wanted more of this.
Sometime ago, perhaps after the first ridiculous incarnation of the Fantastic Four, Marvel decided to take cinematic control of the destinies of the film versions of its characters. They gathered up the heroes they hadn't sold off yet and created a plan. A long range overarching plan that encompassed multiple films, introduced characters who retained their core elements, had a connecting theme or elements, used crossover appearances, etc., where each piece built on, reinforced or extended the others. It was, and is, like a multi-issue comic book event, something they actually knew how to do, only on film. And they went forth to made a buttload of money.

Which brings us to DC, who is desperately trying to emulate the success of their competitors, who've managed to elevate B-List heroes into superstars. But it's like PS4 v Xbone. Yes, I said Xbone.   

DC? I don't think whoever is over there has a plan. Not a movie release schedule, a plan. Maybe I don't see it yet, but right this second it looks like they're just throwing stuff at the wall and waiting to see what sticks. Their iconic characters have shed their elemental core values, the very things that made us like who they are, the things that have made the characters enduring, and no one seems to have a vision for how Hero Movie #1 will tie into Other Hero Movie  #2 until after the CGI is done. So much CGI! And the scripting of these things seem like they are being  written for video games, an by that I mean the stories seem to be just moving from grand cinematic moment to grand cinematic moment, cut scenes if you will, rather than telling a coherent story. And finally, just because Batman was dark doesn't mean everything else had to be too!  

So, how do we fix the DCCU (DC Cinematic Universe)?


Hell, comic books restart all the time. A new #1 of everything came again for like the fifth time two years or so ago, so just scrap everything and start over. No, I'm not crazy, we're about to get like the third restart of Spiderman in less than twenty years and we're still excited about it. DC can do that with their characters too, if they stop acting so desperate. Movie fans are less stringent than comic book fans, they'll get over it. But this time, create a plan - not a schedule, A PLAN - so that a central theme runs through each movie leading up to a cinematic event. I'll throw it out there, one film for each core hero, then a second round of three, where the villains start teaming up. Then the event can be the creation of the Legion of Doom, in this incarnation a kind of super-villain syndicate. The existence of which leads to the birth of the Justice League. 

This means that DC habit of killing the villain at the end of the movie... has to stop, which leads to my next item. They need to require the director who wants the seat at the helm to read at least 100 issues of the comic they'll be bringing to life. And write a 5,000 word report, in their own handwriting, explaining what the important themes of the character and story lines are. Yes, I just said the director needs to write a book report to get the job. That's how you avoid a Zack Snyder. I'd also require a similar report and an audio-visual presentation for the writer. No, for the writer, I need to see his comic book collection. And there will be a test. 
Why reading? BvS. They based the whole film on this one page of comic. One page. With no sense of context.
Why? Because not being familiar with the source material, the material the expected fans who will turn out to see the movie will be familiar with, is just stupid. It would be like making a period drama about the civil war and not looking at any history. If you treat it as though it's trite, as though its history and canon merit no respect, you get crap out the other Suicide Squad. 

But I digress. The reboot. Each movie needs to have it's own look or feel, so that they're distinctive. I mean Batman needs to be dark and brooding, that's who he is. But Superman is hope and justice, dark isn't really appropriate. Neither does Wonder Woman, whose trailer looks like they ran it through the Darko-Gritty Filter 3000 after they shot it. Each character needs their own take, their own style. And the event film can either switch styles, so you know who the focus is, or have a separate style all its own.  

I would also like to remind everyone in Hollywood that the fate of the world need not hang in the balance to make a movie all dramatic. Nobody expects the hero to die, so give them something else to fight for. Did you see Cap's Civil War? Nothing world destroying, just relationship stuff.  

This scene however, should never appear on film anywhere.
There is a reason it's Marvel and DC. The longtime stalwart Detective Comics has created some great characters and stories over the years, which have been enjoyed by those who few who still read and savor the feel of the paper and the print. Yes, I know the idea, Marvel creates people while DC creates icons, still, it would be a shame if those tales don't make it to the big screen. But if they don't change something soon...well, I always did prefer Marvel anyway. 

Barkeep. Let me get a Bat-tini. I swear they used to drink on that old TV show. Seriously. 

No comments: