With “Doctor Strange” releasing on Nov. 4, Marvel seems to be dominating in superhero films this year; much critical praise has been given both to this film and the most recent Marvel film, “Captain America: Civil War.” As a result, other production companies, such as Fox and DC, have been clamoring for the same successes.
Honestly, if someone asks me what the best superhero movie of the year is, I would gladly say “Captain America: Civil War” (although I still haven’t seen “Doctor Strange” yet). “Civil War” exceeded my expectations, which were already astronomically high. The directors, the Russo Brothers, did an outstanding job; they transformed the characters from the comic books and made them relatable and grounded them in reality. The characters weren’t facing a massive villain as evident in typical superheroes movies, but rather one another as the structure in their unit was being fractured. This storyline seems real and relatable. I am surprised at how well-executed the storyline was and how the Russos were able to take simple themes, such as friendship and revenge, and weave a cohesive and heartwarming tale that involved loveable characters and amazing action sequences. Three words could sum up the awesomeness of the movie: the airport scene.
With “Civil War,” Marvel hit a home run. In fact, with almost every movie that the company produces, they succeed both in critical praise and at the box office. With the release of “Iron Man,” Marvel started the Cinematic Universe with a bang; with the release of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Marvel cemented their status as the studio releasing stellar comic book movies year after year.
Even movies that weren’t expected to be popular, like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man” show how Marvel is excelling. The Guardians were relatively unknown comic book characters, yet Marvel, along with a great director, James Gunn, harnessed something magical with the film, making these characters beloved and cementing them into pop culture history. “Ant-Man” was able to succeed and be enjoyed by critics and fan alike, despite the turmoil behind-the-scenes with directors changing and ideas being shelved. However, DC failed to take beloved and renowned characters, like Superman and Batman, and make them even serviceable to the audience. Why can’t DC get it right?
“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was a way to launch the DC Extended Universe (DCEU); however, with the release of this divisive film among critics and fans, DC failed. Maybe it was because the company was trying to do too much. The title of the movie said it all; the filmmakers tried to reintroduce Batman and his origin to public consciousness, tried to establish a feud with Superman and Batman–which was never made clear in the movie why they hate each other–and tried to introduce the Justice League; however, none of these things were done properly. In fact, this movie was a jumbled mess, story-wise; even though action scenes were amazing and well-done, the movie is still uneven, long and drawn-out, and is just disappointing.
DC is currently trying everything they can to fix what they think is wrong with “Batman v. Superman,” including changing the dark and dreary tone by lightening up the DC spin-off “Suicide Squad,” as evident in the reported reshoots for the film. Although “Suicide Squad” was fun and had light moments, overall the movie failed again because the story was a mess and the motivations of certain characters were so questionable.
I feel as though DC is currently wrapped up so much in trying to catch up to Marvel and in trying to capture the magic that Nolan captured in the “Dark Knight” trilogy to the point that the company can’t do their jobs properly and make a great movie. DC is fighting a losing battle with Marvel and they may try to roll out as many films as they want, such as “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman,” and “Justice League,” but the faster they try pushing new content out in their connected world instead of slowly crafting a great standalone movie, the faster they are ruining their chances of being as successful as Marvel.
Fox is also attempting to tackle a connecting universe with the superheroes they obtained from Marvel. However, every time I sit back to watch a Fox movie I can’t help but think how the movie can be so much better in Marvel’s hands. Other than “Deadpool,” which, in my opinion, is the studios’ saving grace in terms of their comic book films, Fox has missed the mark on their recent superhero films.
First off, “Fantastic Four” was poorly executed. From seeing the countless trailers, I could not wait to see the movie. I wanted to see these comic book characters finally adapted well for the big screen, and the trailer presented a grittier retelling. The first 30 minutes or so seemed to accomplish this, setting up the movie really well and setting a serious and dark tone. However, after that, the movie was a mess. When the team went into the alternate dimension, the visuals seemed subpar; after this point in the film, I had more questions than answers were being given; for example, how did Sue get powers, like the others did, if she was not in the alternative dimension and why did Richard escape the government facility without trying to save any of the others, especially his so-called best friend, Ben?
There were many questionable moments in this movie that I gave up on waiting for any of my questions to be answered. I trudged along waiting for some action to happen; there wasn’t any action until the final battle sequence between the members of the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom, and Dr. Doom was supposed to be a menacing villain, but was not by any means. The final battle scene was – to simply put it – a joke; it was horrible. The movie went from being dark and serious to being cheesy in a split second. The switch in the tone was so jarring that it took me out of the movie.
Ultimately, the movie was disappointing. I was excited to see a gritty retelling of this famous story. I was so excited to see the source material that never was really adapted on screen to be adapted well. I was so excited to see the dynamic between the characters and to see the characters find themselves – or come of age in a way – with their newly discovered powers.
After my long rant on how “Fantastic Four” irked me, it is clear to see that Fantastic Four did not live up to its potential; and, in my opinion, Fox has not done well with their most recent “X-Men” films justice either. I think some of the “X-Men” movies were great, others were okay, and others were just – let’s not mention them. Honestly, the last two “X-Men” movies were the only ones I was old enough to really watch and appreciate, but I didn’t appreciate either of them.
In “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” I do think Bryan Singer did a great job of correcting the “X-Men” universe in ways that fixed what some of the previous incarnations ruined. But to sum up the shortfalls of the movie, I think some of the choices of characters made were questionable and flat-out annoying. Maybe I didn’t really love the movie as much as a lot of critics did because I was never really invested in this universe to really appreciate the characters, but the some of the character’s decisions in the movie really annoyed me. I think that movie had potential to explore more than it actually did; and in no way did I think this movie should have gotten all the acclaim it was receiving when it came out.
The film “X-Men: Apocalypse” was also underwhelming for me. The movie had some striking scenes, like the scene in which Magneto lost his family in the woods, which was heartbreaking and allowed the audience to evoke sympathy for Magneto and understand his motivations; However, the bad parts of the movie stuck out: characters, like Jubliee and Psylocke, being underutilized, Apocalypse’s plan to take over the world being nonsensical, and the final battle scene being drawn out and slightly confusing. Other than that, the movie was again underwhelming and rather forgettable.
Again, I think Fox’s only saving grace was “Deadpool;” this movie would probably be my second best superhero movie of the year behind “Civil War.” This movie was amazing and a great adaptation of the comic book character. I think the only place where the movie fell short was the portrayal of the villain, who seemed to not have any real motivation and was evil just for the sake of being evil. Other than that, the movie was well-executed. However, who knows if “Deadpool” as a franchise can save Fox, especially now that “Deadpool” reportedly lost Tim Miller as a director due to creative differences.
Nevertheless, I don’t hate DC or Fox. In fact, I am rooting for these two companies to produce amazing movies time after time like Marvel has been doing. But for now, these companies are not doing well in this aspect. Maybe they can hire great directors who actually know how to tell a cohesive story and how to bring these comic book characters to life; maybe they can take their time in pre-production to craft a deep and intriguing story; I really don’t know what the solution is, but either way, they need to start churning out great product because producing disappointing movies one after the other is something that can eventually push the public from superhero movies; not just their superhero movies but all superhero movies, including Marvel’s. The general movie-going public doesn’t know which company produces which superhero movie; they already put superhero movies in a box, and if some superhero movies turn the general movie-going public off, they are going to push the hypothetical box aside and they won’t go to any superhero moives. So, I am hoping that these companies produce great superhero movies beginning right now to save this superhero movie genre.