Monday, February 23, 2015

Can We Start Giving Superhero Movies Some Respect: Part Two: Electric Insult Boogaloo

Well hey! Like anything that's successful, here's a sequel to my earlier editorial surrounding the topic of giving superhero movies some respect. It's a subject that I'm not alone in advocating for, as someone very high up in the industry has spoken out in favor of giving superhero films some respect from people. What's triggered this kind of chitter chatter, and this editorial sequel, you ask?

Well, some recent awards ceremonies have given many people the opportunity to talk about the epidemic that is superhero movies, a hideous type of filmmaking that was responsible for four of the 692 movies released last year. In addition to last nights Oscars ceremony throwing a couple of barbs from the likes of Jack Black (who I was so happy to see in a prominent role in last night's ceremony. I love Jack Black and really hope this is the start of a comeback of sorts for him) and Liam Neeson at the medium of storytelling that is superhero films, Dan Gilroy, at another awards ceremony over the weekend, referred to the presence of these four 2014 features as a "tsunami of superhero films", which feels like the very definition of hyperbole. I'm saddened he said such a thing, not only because I loved his 2014 film Nightcrawler (it was easily one of my favorites movies from last year), but because it just reinforces this sort of victimhood that's reaching #notallmen levels of delusion.

So, to everyone out there, whether they be some ranty dude on Twitter or a high-profile filmmaker, let me say this to you: Superhero movies are not ruining your movies or Hollywood. Now, bad movies are a problem, for sure, but it's insulting honestly to say an entire way of telling a story is inherently terrible. Whether you're creating The Avengers 2 or Idea, it should only matter if the story, characters, tone, etc. are compelling or not. That's what should matter to those who are pointlessly complaining about the "tsunami" of superhero movies, and it's sad to see even filmmakers who created great stories (like Gilroy) succumb to this kind of mentality.

So, you might be inquiring at this point, who was it that was speaking out in favor of giving superhero films some respect? James Gun,, the director of Guardians Of The Galaxy. The filmmaker has a Facebook page full of interesting anecdotes about a wide variety of topics, but his thoughts on this particular matter were very interesting to me as you might imagine, given how strongly I feel about this topic. Here's his Facebook post:

Post by James Gunn.

So damn true James. As a film critic, let me just toss in some final thoughts and reaffirm some of Gunn's statements. If you want to criticize individual superhero films, please, go right ahead. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ghost Rider 2, Man Of Steel, Green Lantern...these are colossal duds from the last four years that fail to create any fascinating stories or characters. But to constantly refer to an entire way of storytelling as some sort of plague on cinema is just insulting to great films like The Dark Knight, Guardians Of The Galaxy or The Avengers.

Perhaps the most compelling phrase from Gunn's Facebook post is this:  many people assume because you make big films that you put less love, care, and thought into them then people do who make independent films or who make what are considered more serious Hollywood films. This pretty much sums up the whole problem with the lack of respect given to superhero films by many in the entertainment industry; you're just undermining hard work done by talented people working in all kinds of departments. The kind of generalization done to superhero cinema on a regular basis is just insulting, and I'm glad Gunn shed some light on it. To ignore any medium of cinematic storytelling (dramas, comedies, superhero, animation, foreign films, etc.) is to ignore a bounty of quality cinema, and I truly wish people would realize that.

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