So, this week, everyone ended up talking about the three big trailers, which is kind of cool. To represent the official launch of docpalindrome.com, the four of us having a common theme is pretty cool. It’s representative of the common thread that we all share while also showing the unique point of view the four of us have. As this thing grows and develops, I feel that having a singular event like ‘Trailer Week’ as a general commonality will enable the communal feel that I have been hoping to build, all along.
Three trailers in three days, each of varying levels of quality for projects that seem remarkably similar while being wildly divergent.
I’ll start on the sour note.
I could care less about the new Fantastic Four film that is being released from Fox. For some time, I was making this statement but saying that I would definitely go see it on opening weekend. After watching the new trailer, I can’t guarantee that I will bother seeing it at all. Ever.
I have been a comic book fan for what is going on four decades. In all that time, the Fantastic Four has been a solid stand-by of a series; one I could jump onto and leave whenever the urge struck me. Various writers have come and gone, but all have had a singular ideal: be true to the characters established by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
As a comic book enthusiast, historian, and walking encyclopedia, the point at which I would be talking about what comic book FILMS were being released in a year rather than IF a comic book film would be released in a given year is a moment that I long thought might never arrive (despite the fact that I had made the statment that it would). The only touchstone I have ever insisted upon when the content is converted from the four-color page to film is that the writers remain true to the soul of the character and story that was originally presented. I’m not naive enough to think that everything can be exactly the same, but embracing what makes these characters, ideas, concepts, and narratives great can only serve to make the films better, right?
My general gripe with the four Batman films that were released beginning with the travesty that starred Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in 1989 is that they consumed the characters of Batman, Joker, and the rest of the milieu without paying attention to why the characters had been popular for five decades. Tim Burton’s vision looked like Batman, but to any true comic book fan, it certainly didn’t feel like Batman. Kevin Smith would agree with me.
When the process of creating the new Fantastic Four film began, there were rumors and speculation galore, but not peep one from the studio. No ‘leaks’ of images or footage, no scripts reaching the public’s grubby hands, barely any information about casting. There was word that the FF was going to be integrated into the common universe of the X-Men franchise because both of them had film rights owned by Fox, much to the chagrin of Marvel and Disney, but there was little else until recently; less than six months from the release of the movie.
However, actions, as they say, speak louder than words.
Marvel has, in short order, divested itself of any support of this film. The Fantastic Four comic book series, having been consistently published, on a regular basis, since November of 1961, will be ending next week with issue #645. Marvel has chosen to NO LONGER PUBLISH a comic book rather than potentially support the Fox film in any way, shape, or form.
In addition, Marvel has actively pursued means to torpedo any film property Fox is looking to produce from an IP created by Marvel. Wolverine and Deadpool have both been killed off, in the comic books, the X-Men teams have been effectively torn to shreds with the line between hero and villain having been blurred to the point of being completely indistinct.
Marvel wants the rights to these properties back under their care and it WILL happen. Should this Fantastic Four film fail to bring in massive box office bank, the rights will soon revert to Marvel/Disney and we will soon get yet another version of the Foursome. If it does bring in the money, then the next one or the one after that will be the one that Marvel is waiting to fail in order to return the flagship title of Marvel Comics under the watchful eye of the company it helped define.
Which makes this film completely irrelevant.
Beyond this, the trailer portrays characters that are beloved and revered in ways that are completely antithetical to how they exist on the printed page. Reed Richards as a child, Johnny Storm as an angry kid, Ben Grimm as a hate-filled monster, Susan Storm as a terrible actress.
Okay, I don’t care about the ethnic swap of Johnny Storm and his father, but WHY THE HELL WOULD THEY NOT GO ALL THE WAY WITH SUCH A CHANGE?!?! Why Kate Mara?!?! Why not Zoë Kravitz?! Or any female actress of color, for that matter?!
Half measures, that’s why.
Fox needs this film to make money in order to keep the IP of the Fantastic Four in it’s pocket and doing the whole thing half-assed is better than not doing it at all, right? If the movie is a piece of shit (as the trailer portrays it), then the next relaunch will have nothing but bad blood from a public that has been fooled by the title three times. If it actually makes money, then they are good to go and can keep churning out garbage.
I hate to be negative, but my problems with Fox’s choices in manipulating properties they don’t fully comprehend has been frustrating me since X3. If they put half as much effort into new properties, they could produce original work that was of high quality and had unlimited potential for cash flow. Instead, they are simply adding length to a burning fuse as Disney will get the rights to those properties back, one day, making everything that Fox produced, in the realm of continuity, completely without merit.
On a different note, the trailer for Superman V. Batman: Dawn of Justice was leaked and then released because, hell, everyone watched the leak, anyways!
Listen, I have way more faith in this movie than most fans seem to. For the most part, my reasoning is that I enjoyed Man of Steel way more than most people that saw it seem to have. I have stated, on record, that Man of Steel was not, as most fans complained, a Superman movie. It was a film about the being that would, through the course of trials and struggle; finding who he was and where he came from; become, at the very end of the film, Superman. If it was a movie about the Superman who would have prevented all the devastation to Metropolis, saved all the Kryptonians, and not slain Zod, the film would have been titled ‘Superman’ rather than ‘Man of Steel.’
Dawn of Justice, to me, appears to be about something very different. Those fans who hated the Kal-El of Man of Steel are being represented in the opinion of the public and, ultimately, the adversarial approach that the Dark Knight Detective takes towards the Last Son of Krypton. Ben Affleck’s Batman, be it by design or from some fluke of a chance, represents anyone who saw Man of Steel and thought that it was a crappy Superman film.
The irony is that the fans hated the idea of Affleck as their beloved hero. Personally, right from the beginning, I have loved the idea and I can’t wait to see how ‘Heavy Ben’ takes on the role he’s always wanted to play. In the trailer in question, he even manages to keep his mouth closed in every shot!
The villain of the piece is the most brilliant aspect of the whole film. When Lex Luthor was introduced, he was representative of the charismatic, sociopathic personages who gained following through sheer force of will, not unlike those cults of personality in Russia, Germany, and Italy, at the time. He soon was transformed into a vile, hate-filled scientist willing to do whatever it took to conquer the world or slay his enemy, the Man of Steel. In the 1980s, Luthor become a mogul; an immoral businessman and entrepreneur capable of committing any atrocity for the sheer joy of being able to do so.
With Eisenberg, Luthor transforms, once more, into the villain of our modern times. Mark Zuckerberg is lauded as the man to be feared. Who, through offering companionship, connection, and camaraderie, has created complacency and gained access to vast amounts of data on nearly every human on this planet. Certainly, the public of Dawn of Justice fears Superman’s raw power, but could they fear it any more than we all fear the power wielded by Google, Facebook, or Twitter?
Eisenberg represents this and it is a brilliant move on the part of the filmmakers to embrace that distinction in order to create a modern villain worthy of absolute paranoia.
The trailer makes the film look powerful, dangerous, and worthy of the legends it represents. One can only hope that the movie stays true to this voice and enables the world to redefine who these classic heroes can be while preserving what they have always been.
Finally, I’ll comment on the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Little of what I had seen, to date, had impressed me in regards to J.J. Abrams addition to the Star Wars franchise. However, since there have been five Star Wars films I have been less than impressed with and one which I consider watchable, I may not be the best person to ask about what to expect from a new entry to the beloved franchise.
It’s not that I’m a not a fan of Star Wars, it’s that the aspects of the universe I find deplorable are the very aspects of it that are embraced and spotlit in most of the tales. With nearly all the comics having been released on the Marvel Unlimited app, I have re-read a great deal of the original stories and found that Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin told the story of A New Hope in ways I find far superior to the actual first film. The first six issues of the Star Wars comic from Marvel, produced in 1977, were written from the screenplay and incorporated aspects of the final film that had been cut out for time (including the first appearance of Jabba the Hutt, although he’s a bit different than he would appear, later).
However, the next story, one in which Han Solo and Chewbacca find themselves defending a small planetary settlement from ruthless raiders with a band of motley spacers, is the one I remember the most fondly. To be fair, this tale doesn’t hold up as well as the first six issues, but it was fun to re-read and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in such things.
As a kid, I remember that tale as the one in which I cemented what I really liked about Star Wars.
When I heard about Harrison Ford returning to the franchise, I made some comment about how he would just mumble and grumble his way through the whole thing in a way not unlike he has done for his last several films (I kept wondering what Colonel Graff was chewing on in Ender’s Game).
So, I watched the trailer. Amusement did not cross my face.
Until Han and Chewie.
It wasn’t Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew in a furry suit. It was Han and Chewie.
And they were home.
Now, having seen every episode of Star Wars in the theatre in it’s original run, now I’m finally excited about a Star Wars film.