Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The history of comic books being translated to the screen - TV and movie - has been checkered in its beginnings. For every Adam West, there was a Nicholas Hammond. For every George Reeves, there was a John Wesley Shipp. (For every Superman movie, there was a Superman 3!) but the genre has taken off recently, what with the success of the Spider-Man franchise last decade to kick things back off, then the wildly popular Iron Man to piggyback off of that wave, leading into the blockbuster (and one of the most successful films of all time) that was The Dark Knight. Movies with smaller spotlights but great results such as Kick-Ass and the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. The World are benefactors of such successes. Gone are the days of half-ass representations, second rate heroes who had no business being adapted in the first place, flagship heroes who were unceremoniously pushed back into sloppy seconds (I know - I have this one on tape for some reason), and of course, the movie that almost ended it all.
Two years from now, the failures and successes of these adaptations will contribute to the biggest summer that comics have ever seen, and probably will ever see - the ensemble cast of the Avengers opens on May 4th, 2012, with the third entry in Christopher Nolan's Batman series opening two and a half months later, on July 20th. So which one do I bet on having the bigger box office pull?
I'm betting on the Caped Crusader, and here's why.
The Avengers movie's success is predicated on the success of the films that precede it - Iron Man 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk (which was only slightly better than the 2003 Ang Lee film - not to mention they've recasted the part with Mark Ruffalo), and the upcoming Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America movies. These films are supposed to build momentum to the majestic joining of all these heroes, and if one of these movies gets mediocre reviews, that momentum is instantly slowed down. What most people DON'T think about is that this movie is supposed to tie loose ends together and introduce new characters for spinoffs at the same time! That's a recipe for disaster in my opinion; it could turn out to be another X-Men 3 type movie, and we know how that ended. However, the castings are inspired, especially with the Thor character, Chris Hemsworth and recent Best Actor Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, but Marvel fans better hope Chris Evans doesn't get his flame on in that Cap movie - or better yet, can you imagine Ruffalo getting worked up to the point he explodes into a aggressive mass of green muscle? Me neither.
The Dark Knight has. The casting in the last two movies have been superb, save for Mrs. Tom Cruise, and there's no reason to believe they won't strike gold again. Although third entries in movie franchises are more often lackluster than not (Back To The Future, Star Wars, Matrix, and that God-awful Godfather), this is the last Batman movie Nolan is directing, so there's no question he's going out with a bang: Batman fans have great faith in him and justifiably so. Rumblings of Catwoman have been heard, which would actually be feasible considering the "real-world" approach - by the way, get off your Johnny Depp/Riddler horses, people! - and Bruce Wayne will no doubt be returning to his newly-renovated Wayne Manor and Batmobile - everyone should be interested to see the upgrades they have in store for crime-fighting in Gotham City.
I'm still looking forward to seeing the Avengers movie - with Robert Downey Jr. in it, the script should be good enough for him to excel in his Tony Stark role; I imagine the movie having an Ocean's Eleven-type dialogue (to at least convey RDJ's role well), including the initial grating and wisecracking between the heroes before they realize they ultimately have to come together for the betterment of humanity. But Batman still hasn't left the public's consciousness two years later. Not to mention I believe the third Batman will age better with time than all those heroes in iron-clad suits and armor. The script is key for this movie (in fact, both movies) to knock it out of the park.
It's Batman's battle to lose. However, as long as this Avengers movie pushes this one even further into oblivion, it's a win-win for everybody.