Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Feeling Less and Less Marvel-ous

Guardians of the Galaxy
Courtesy: Marvel/Disney
@chadsmart & @my123cents on Twitter

If I were one to subscribe to hyperbole I’d say that what I’m about to write may cause a bit of controversy. Instead, I’ll start by saying I realize I am quickly growing out of the target demographic Hollywood favors. Therefore, I know I’m not the ideal audience for the latest big budget action movie to hit the multiplex. Also, I haven’t read a comic book since GI Joe issue 75 back in 1988. So not only am I not the target audience for a big budget action film, I also don’t have the geek cred for comic book movies. Why do I mention all that? Over the weekend I saw Guardians of the Galaxy and unlike 99% of everyone who saw the movie, I walked out of the theater thinking, “I’ve seen this already.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I thought the movie was enjoyable and certainly understand why others would like the movie. I just feel like I spent another two hours watching something I’ve seen too many times recently in the theater.

Since Marvel ushered in the era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with Iron Man in 2008, they have released ten movies in the last six years. Seven of those have come out in the past three to four years. That’s a new comic book based movie on average every six months without taking into consideration other Marvel films like X-Men or Spider-Man and the DC comics Dark Knight series or Superman movie. 

Personally, I think I’ve hit the breaking point for superheroes.
I want to stress again, I’m not saying Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t good. Simply saying with the exception of a prolonged origin story for the protagonist and villains, the plot and action were very reminiscent of other Marvel films. The biggest issue, for me, is how most Marvel movies revolve around the same storyline. Villain wants powerful crystal/element that can cause mass destruction. Hero has to stop villain from destroying humanity. Large CGI destruction porn battle takes place. Hero saves the world. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Chris Hemsworth at Comic Con
I understand that I just described basically every single plot of every action movie ever made. There are two points I’d argue. The first, as already mentioned, you can write out the storyline for a Marvel film then cross out the superhero and villain names and replace with characters from another film and there’s no difference. What’s separates Captain America from Thor from Guardians of the Galaxy?

The second point is suspense. Watching a Marvel movie, I never get caught up in the film to the point where I feel the heroes will fail. I don’t even feel like they’ll get to a point where they need to regroup and rethink their strategy. Given the majority of the MCU set up other films, why doesn’t Marvel leave some of the films with a cliffhanger? It worked with The Empire Strikes Back, and the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/Harry Potter movies.  Like an engrossing television series, leave the audience wondering what will happen next and give them a reason to come back next time. 
Instead, the movies wrap up nicely then leave the audience with a thirty second tease for the next film after making them sit through fifteen minutes of credits.

Thanos at Comic Con
I’ve read (again, not that knowledgeable on Marvel comic books) all of the powerful elements from the MCU films are items Thanos needs to power his Nintendo Power Glove and that’s the stage all these films are setting. If that’s the case, again I ask why does every film end with the heroes winning the battle?

Rocket Raccoon
Perhaps my biggest complaint is the overuse of CGI. This is probably the hollowest complaint because if CGI didn’t exist these movies couldn’t be made.  I’m just at the point where CGI environments aren’t impressive anymore. Instead of being used to add to a story, they’re becoming the story. Before anyone comments on it, yes, I thought Rocket Raccoon and Groot were very well done and believable characters. My complaint is with the climaxes of these movies being nothing more than destruction of cities. That’s why I enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past. It broke the formula and told a somewhat interesting story.

I realize comic books are the fad at the moment, and with Guardians of the Galaxy’s 90 million dollar opening weekend there shows no signs of studios rethinking their decision to make more movies based on colorful picture books. Honestly, I don’t really have a problem with movies being based on comic books or graphic novels. I just wish the writers would change up the script and give a different story for a change. Can we get Professor X and Magneto staging a My Dinner with Andre style conversation?

The sad part is that even though I know I’m tired of comic book movies, I will still be there opening weekend for Avengers 2, Ant Man, Captain America 3, Dr. Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I have an addiction that may require an intervention. In the meantime, I’ll just have to counterbalance loud, flashy action movies with more gentle films such as The 100 Foot Journey and Get On Up.

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