Christopher Nolan Set the Bar Too High
It’s fair to assume that most of the movies with the biggest budgets of the last decade has been superhero movies. I’m not a big comic reader (and the few I’ve read aren’t American comics) but I’m familiar with most of the Marvel and DC characters that have had movies these past years.
Obviously these comic adaptions are nothing new, but in my opinion it was Christopher Nolan with his Batman saga and the first Iron Man movie that led the way for all the other comic adaptions.
What made those movies a referent is that they made the comic characters human. There was obviously a lot of fiction in them, but they made the characters so human that, somehow, the fictional places, top technology, and such didn’t make the scale to be decanted to fiction and were, mostly, dramas.
Personally, The Dark Knight was some sort of masterpiece to me. Nolan was able to make every movie bigger, but without having them all seem too overwhelming. He did not sell out and found a perfect balance between art and blockbuster. And so did Iron Man.
But after that, Hollywood saw what worked and simply tried to copy the formula… but with a couple flaws.
They make a comic adaptation and if it works, the sequel is the same, but bigger. The main character (or one of the main characters) is about to die, but they don’t because they need the character to make more movies and make more money. Other characters die, but not really, because they resurrect in a new movie because the fans love them. They don’t even kill the bad guy because he’s too handsome and has to appear in the next movie too. We get more superheroes in each sequel because 12 wasn’t enough. Sometimes the main character sacrifices himself and is willing to die for that bigger cause… but they don’t die, because, well, there ‘needs’ to be a sequel.
Why can’t Batman die? Why can’t the bad guy win? Why are those films so predictable?
They try to make all the characters more human, but the balance between that level of humanity you can relate to and the all the CGI and sci-fi side of the movie are a bit off and the scale, in this case, is decanted strictly to science fiction. In my opinion, if your movie is clearly sci-fi then don’t copy Iron Man or The Dark Knight. Make something that is pure entertainment, make something like Transformers, make real fiction movies. Don’t try to make the impossible look possible. Make the impossible look awesome instead.
That’s what happens when you mix the same Iron Man of the first film with a nordic god, aliens, and resurrected captains. The fiction overtakes the humanity of the film.
Take a look at the Ninja Turtles movies. They’ve spent millions in trying to make them look real but the abuse of CGI makes them less real than the TMNT movies of the ’90s where they were 4 guys wearing turtle suits.
Every sequel is more grandiose. More money, bigger bad guys, more explosions and more power. We learn a bit about the characters, like, “hey! she had a rough childhood, or he is evil because of this or the other,” but the story and the psychology of the characters never reach the level of what we saw in Iron Man or The Dark Knight saga.
They know the release dates before the movies are even written. There are sequels announced even before the first movie comes out. Let us breathe.
They’ve sacrificed the art for the entertainment. I can enjoy one of these movies even if I don’t like the comic or I don’t know of it. I’m not saying they are bad (even though I think some of them are) but if they present them as something different when their skeleton is always the same, it’s normal to feel disappointed.
Everything has to be larger and more spectacular, visually, to compensate for the lack of innovation in story.
Art knows no deadlines. Maybe instead of a superhero sequel every other year we should wait a bit more, make sure the story is the best it can be. Make art, not movies.