Thursday, May 18, 2006

There's No Excuse for a Bad Superhero Movie

Honestly, there isn't. Now, this isn't just a blog loosely associated with Cartooning.. I actually have a lesson to impart, but let's take the long road there and talk about comic books and movies first.

The new X-men movie is coming out, and I find myself not as... excited, as I might be. So far, the commercials haven't shown me anything new or different from the first two. I liked the first two, but as good entertainment.. not anything life altering, like a great movie can be. I do look forward to Spiderman 3 and Fantastic Four 2, although Fantastic Four was more juvenille than I would have liked, and it did get terrible reviews. And that brings me to my first point: There is NO excuse for a bad Superhero Movie.

Why? Allow me to elaborate, and extend that to 'classic Superheroes', meaning Superheroes that have been around for decades in comic books. We can even extend this to Non-superheroes, such as Men In Black and Blade ( Yes, both comic books), but it's not neccesary.

Anyways, let's stop to think a moment. Even if you don't read comics, we are all aware that comic books like Fantastic Four, Batman, etc, have been around a long time now. For a movie like Spiderman, we have something like 40 years of comics as a basis. There are several Spidey titles that have been coming out each month since the Sixties. We also have at least dozens of writers and artists and editors who have expanded on the original ideas, and brought their own takes on the characters. More importantly, they have made mistakes, made breakthroughs, and have made money, which is sometimes a good indicator of what works and what doesn't.

So, with all that, it's no surprise that they made a great two movies so far. Honestly, the villians are a bit cheesy, but the movies work. Somebody got smart and mined the collective Spidey Library, and managed to stay true to the character.

No, the surprise comes when we see movies like the Hulk, or Fantastic Four, and others, and we leave disappointed. Why ignore the history laid down over decades in the four color archives of comic's history? I'll skip the details for you non fans, but let me say that there have been some fantastic stories told with these characters.

Doctor Doom, in the comics, can be a frightful Villian... a Dictator with the resources of a small country, with genius level science, and a knowledge of the dark arts, twisted by his heritage, and his desire to rule the world that he sees kicked him when he was down. There was NONE of that in the movie, and if there was, the movie would have been a lot better.

The origin of the Fantastic Four was also modified. Let's be honest, and admit that things have changed since 1963, and we've seen some advances in science. Still, the original origin of the Fantastic Four was exciting... they steal a spaceship that Reed Richards had designed, to prove that his theories are correct. A mistake has them bombarded by Cosmic Rays, and they crash land back on earth. There, in the confusion of the crash, they start to develop these amazing powers that they have no control over... yet. Very dramatic, and completely watered down for the film.

Well, let's move on to my true point. Great work requires just that... work. You have to write, and draw, and make mistakes, and fix things and go back and do it again until you get it right. You cannot rush greatness.

When CARTOONIST PROfiles was around, each issue talked about how the great Cartoonists from the funny pages got syndicated. They all give as advice the following; write and draw a hundred strips or so, and then choose from those your best 24 to submit to the syndicates.

We're not all making a comic book movie, where we can mine the gold of others. But if you're serious about making a name for yourself in this business, then here's my advice; Create your own four color archive of work. Do enough that you do make mistakes, and don't be afraid to toss out ideas that don't work. So many Cartoonists feel that everything they put down on paper is written in stone. It's paper, people! Toss it out if it ain't working, and draw something else!

There's a lot of competition out there, so make sure that you always put your best foot forward. You only get one chance to make a great impression :0)

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