Comic Book Films: The Love is Gone

By Christian DiMartino

When I was five, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was the bomb. I loved that movie more than life itself. It was just so much fun, and it had just the right amount of charm (and that upside down kiss is a doozy).

Flash forward ten years. The Raimi trilogy ended, and was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man. Why? Well, money. Flash forward to present day. The Amazing Spider-Man series has come to an end, and Spider-Man will be getting the reboot treatment in a few years.

I also grew up with the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman films (yes, even the notorious Batman & Robin). Flash forward eight years, and Batman was given the reboot treatment with Batman Begins (trust me, no complaint there).

Flash forward to present day. Christopher Nolan’s phenomenal Dark Knight trilogy has come to an end, and Batman will be getting the reboot treatment next year with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. See where I’m going with this?

There was once a time when I would go into a comic book movie stoked. I think the last one I was truly excited for was The Dark Knight Rises. Not that I skip them. No, I always show up to them. They’re still plenty entertaining. But my thoughts towards comic book films could really be summarized by a Fleetwood Mac quote: “But time makes you bolder,
Even children get older, And I’m getting older too.”

I admit that as I grew up, my love for Spider-Man went away. I still think it’s a good film, I just don’t love it (my love for Spider-Man 2 is still going strong though). I admit that as I grew up, I had a certain preference for comic book films: I liked them dark, and I liked them realistic.

I don’t mean to sound like a prude. Age is not really the topic of discussion here. It’s just another factor to the equation. No no no. I still like comic book films, but yet, I feel myself growing kind of tired of them. I used to be extremely excited for them. Now, they arrive and I just say, “Well, here we go.”

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu referred to comic book films as “cultural genocide.” Now, I don’t know if I would go that far. But I sense his frustration. They’re kind of turning into the same thing over and over again. Action extravaganzas with references galore just to give comic book fans a nerdgasm.

I have never picked up a comic book. Maybe that is why I’m not feeling the love. Or maybe it’s the greediness. Or, maybe, just maybe, it is because I never sense any actual danger with them. Ah, I have reached my point.

Take Avengers: Age of Ultron for example. Good fun, yes. I actually liked it more than the original (I am probably alone on that one). But here is the thing: Everything appears to be at stake… but yet does anybody actually die? Nah. Well, someone did, but nobody cared.

That is why this summer’s Ant-Man did it better. Ant-Man of course had danger, but yet rather than put the whole world at stake, it really only put the Scott’s (Paul Rudd) life and family in danger. I also thoroughly enjoy the X-Men series, because it usually feels like they’re trying something different (even though Wolverine is usually at the center of all of them).

Or maybe comic book films should do things the way The Dark Knight trilogy did. In that trilogy, in the finale especially, I felt actual danger. That was a trilogy that was willing to kill off love interests and major characters. I am not a demented sicko, but the way these Marvel films are going, I don’t see any carnage in the future.

I normally write things like this when a new comic book movie is arriving. But this time, I am writing for a different reason.

A few weeks ago, the trailer for Captain America: Civil War was unveiled. Then, perhaps a week later, the trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice arrived. Hmm. Now, neither film looks bad necessarily, but as I watched the trailers, I just felt like the two films were trying to compete with each other (let’s be honest: it’s true).

Both overstuffed with characters, but involving heroes vs. heroes (don’t know why Iron Man and Captain America are beefing, but okay). And once more, I don’t really sense any danger. We all know damn well that these heroes will be fine. Why? Well, you see, they have already signed on for an assload of sequels.

Perhaps once I see the two films, I will be sold. But there is no need for a new Batman. There is no need for a new Spider-Man. There is definitely no need for another Fantastic Four series (hopefully the lesson will be learned).

And what happens when these series’ end? Oh, right, they can always reboot, again.

So, before I ramble onward, I will cut myself off. Comic book films are still plenty entertaining, and I usually find myself paying a good amount of credit to them. But they need a game changer. Christopher Nolan truly paved the way for the genre. He gave Batman the make-over he needed. I think it’s time other series did the same.

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