Friday, December 18, 2009

Charge Aught!!!: The Comic Book Movie- Part Two

There are two sides to every coin (the Dark Knight taught me that!) and for the likes of X-Men, Spider-Man, the Nolan Batmen, and the record holder for Best Superhero Movie For Two Months Iron Man represent the apotheosis of the superhero on screen, there is of course an evil team of doppelgangers from Dopplepopolis, sent to ruin our fun.

These my friends, are the bad superhero movies of the Aughts. This is what happens when good franchises go bad.

It only makes sense that any big success for a Hollywood studio will eventual collapse in on itself and oversaturate the market. It's just the nature of the business. Something is a big hit and then everyone else has to make their version of it. Think the 90's excess of teen slasher movies or another aught phenomenon, the revival of the period epic in the wake of Gladiator and Braveheart. This whole trend was so transparent that even way back in 2001 it served as a plot device for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and this was even before Spider-Man, mind you. Think about it, the overabundance of superhero movies predates 9/11.

First off, of course we should start with Blade again. 2002 gave us Blade 2, helmed by horror auteur and future Hellboy/Pan's Labyrinth/Hobbit director Guillermo del Toro. Blade 2 was a fun sequel which put our favorite dunpeal in an uneasy alliance with the vampires to fight the Freudianly-vagina-mouthed Reapers. I still prefer the first one but 2 was a worthy follow-up and gave us Americans a look at a director on the verge of greatness. All was well for a time in the land of Blade. This of course went right out the window with Blade: Trinity which suffered threequelitis throughout. Wesley Snipes was apparently nearly impossible to work with and director David S. Goyer slashed his, the title character mind you, screen time in favor of new recruits Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel's iPod-listening characters. The whole affair had "give us a spin-off!" written all over it. The plot basically dealt with Blade having to fight Dracula (though his real name is Drake, yeah I know) and some vampires led by Parker Posey of all people. Everything about this movie was just straight up bad, from an almost complete lack of Blade to the second death of Kris Kristofferson's Whistler, to an entire scene discussing how small Triple H's dick is (yup, he's in this movie to). On the bright side, the movie did give us the term "cock-juggling thundercunt" which itself was worth my matinee admission. This stupid movie killed the franchise (even though Spike tried and failed to make it into a TV series) and now we have no more Blades. Great, thanks Patton Oswalt!

In oddly chronological order, the next franchise to bite the dust was X-Men. X-Men 2 (I refuse to call it "X2: X-Men United" because that title is just beyond stupid) was an even bigger hit than its predecessor and still probably ranks as one of the better superhero movies ever made. Bryan Singer really knocked it out the park, and his response? Ditching the series to do Superman Returns and taking James Marsden/Cyclops with him (more on that debacle later). This left the potentially best superhero movie ever in the hands of Brett "the Rat" Ratner, a terrible person if there ever was one. X-Men 3 (I refuse to call it "X-Men: the Last Stand" because that title is just beyond stupid) was just terrible, terrible, terrible. James Marsden's (he just had to go and play Lois Lane's baxter husband) limited commitment to the project resulted in him getting killed off in the first half hour, which didn't really matter because nobody cared about Cyclops anyway; this is Wolverine's show. The movie's greatest crime was probably ruining the potential of some of the series most beloved characters including Angel, Colossus, Shadowcat (eeeee!), and Psylocke, who showed up as an Asian girl with purple hair and no powers or affiliations akin to Psylocke's. Lame. Also, in a bit of proto-Twilight misogyny, Rogue took the mutant cure serum and lost her powers so she could touch her boyfriend Iceman (which is sooooo not canon). That's right girls: change so your boyfriend will like you! Way to ruin the integrity of a character, Ratner. There were also Sentinels hinted at but never fully shown among other offenses but I will say that Frasier as Beast was pretty spot-on.

I won't even bother giving prequel/spin-off Wolverine (I refuse to call it "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" because that name is beyond stupid) but I will say that Liev Schriber as Sabertooth was pretty good. Oh, and it also featured Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool cloying for a spin-off of his own which won't happen now because he's Green motherfucking Lantern! Recently, Bryan Singer has agreed to return to the franchise for the prequel X-Men: First Class but only because he sucks now and needs something that's sure to make money. This is a terrible idea, the franchise is ruined beyond recognition, let it die.

What can I say that hasn't been said about Spider-Man 3?

Please, Sam Raimi, don't give us a Spider-Man 4. I know 3 was Avi Arad's fault and you didn't want to do a Venom movie but please go back to doing great horror-comedies like Drag Me To Hell. Please?

2006's Superman Returns is another story entirely. The franchise had been extinct for nearly two decades and star Christopher Reeve had recently died (not to mention...aw never mind, too touchy) and "eXile" (sorry) Bryan Singer opted to pick up where the good part of the series left off, that is to say that he ignored the third and fourth entries. This was an amazingly bold and actually commendable movie on Singer's part, instead of taking the easy way out and rebooting the series Batman-style, he instead recast every character and told the story as if Supermans III and IV: the Quest for Peace never happened. The risky move would have payed off if Superman Returns had been a good movie. Instead, we got a super-mopey Superman (who everyone in the media seemed to think was gay for some reason) and an over-the-top Lex Luthor played by Kevin Spacey, though admittedly Gene Hackman wasn't much better at being faithful to the character. Still, A for effort, D+ (the gentleman's F!) for results.

These were just the big franchises that started out good and got bad, mind you. There's still Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (which doesn't make a lick of sense, the Silver Surfer pretty much descends if anything, he also died at the end), Daredevil, Hulk ("From the director of Sense and Sensibility!"), the attempted reboot the Incredible Hulk, Ghost Rider, the Punisher, the attempted reboot Punisher: War Zone, and others I can't even think of off the top of my head because they're so goddamn bad. I would give each of these the attention they don't deserve (because yes, I've seen ALL OF THEM, AAAAAGGGGH!) but that would make my head explode.

Let's hope Iron Man 2 doesn't nose dive next year. Fortunately, it looks awesome. Also, I have the utmost faith in Kenneth Branagh's Thor, just for the record.

Coming soon: the non-mainstream/non-superhero comic book movies of the Aughts!