I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy comic book movies. I’ll usually see every movie out there that’s adapted from a comic, even if it’s from a comic I don’t care for. Frequently, even the most lackluster comic book blockbusters I’ll end up seeing twice (for instance, I’ve for some reason seen Fantastic Four 2 and Daredevil twice). Good comic book movies I’ll watch over and over again. I know I’ve watched The Dark Knight more than a dozen times, and I’ve watched Superman and Hellboy 2 probably ten times a piece. Despite my ardent love for the films, I’ve got to say this: I hate the hype.
News of every comic book movie is leaked out into the press way too early. Then the news travels through the comic book culture in a flash, traveling along the blogosphere and twitter and every other outlet for nerdiness. Just about every comic book film starts getting major hype months in advance. Before long, everyone’s gabbing out who plays who, or what villain will appear, or how true the movie is to the source material. You’d think the build-up would be good for the film. I’d say just the opposite is true.
When we hear about a film so long ahead of time, our minds churn repeatedly, creating possible scenarios for how the film will turn out. The most intense experience I’ve had with this was when Star Wars Episode 1 was first announced. I heard about more than a year in advance, subscribed to Star Wars Insider, cut out pictures of every screenshot that was released, and from it all pieced together an epic story of how I thought the movie would play out. Then, when it was released, I remember thinking it was good, but nowhere near as good as the film I had in my head. I forgave the film, but other fans weren’t so forgiving. We had expected way too much.
A more recent occurence of this would be the case of Green Lantern. DC had mentioned the possibility of a Green Lantern film years ago. I remember thinking when CGI first started getting big that a Green Lantern film would be perfect with this new medium. Then DC started releasing tidbits of information, such as how Ryan Reynolds was to play the lead (there was also a weird point in time where a fake preview was released starring Nathan Fillion). Just about every DC comic came with banners on the cover advertising the film, which I think was a moment of hubris, as the ad threw off the covers themselves and made the gesture seem rather shameless. So when Green Lantern finally came out, it flopped.
Green Lantern was a perfectly fine movie. I think if it had come out of nowhere, maybe just showed up on nerd’s radar 2 months prior to release, it would have wowed a lot of people. Instead, it was hyped to the nth degree but couldn’t deliver. How fair is that? Nothing could deliver on so much hype.
Now, when X-Men First Class came out, I really can’t remember there being much hype. It just showed up at the start of summer. Thor had way more hype. X-Men First Class, being somewhat smaller than the usual blockbuster fare was I thought a fully satisfying movie watching experience. I never had the sensation of being let-down. I felt the opposite: the movie was way better than I thought it’d be.
2012 has two big superhero pictures in the works: The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. I resisted the temptation to watch The Avengers trailers until I saw it randomly on TV, and I still haven’t sat down and watched The Dark Knight Rises trailer everyone’s been foaming at the mouth about. Those films don’t come out for months. The Dark Knight Rises is I think 10 months away. I don’t want to spend 2012 feeling mounting ennui as I await the release of those films (as I did with every Star Wars prequel).
I would argue that for the comic book culture to really thrive, the companies need to make an effort to control the hype surrounding the movies. Comic-Con is devoted to hyping superheroes in every form of media except comics. I don’t want a repeat of the experience I had with Spider-Man 3. I loved the second film, and found myself utterly excited when it was released that Venom would be the villain. Then Venom seemed to get less screen-time than the B-list villain The Sandman. Now Spider-Man 3 belongs somewhere alongside Batman Forever as a case of commercialism run amok. Watchmen made a similar blunder, as I remember seeing ads as long as one year before the release. In that case, the ads were better than the movie itself.
I’d like to feel excited for The Dark Knight Rises one month before it comes out–but that’s it.
Make a point to check out my author page on Amazon if you’re looking for a book to read. I haven’t published comics (yet) but the two books I have out are sure to provide some entertainment and enlightenment. They’re available in paperback and as ebooks.
What’s your take on the hype surrounding comic book movies?