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Yet Another Super Hero Rant Regarding Batman

I've written a few times about the explosion of successful super hero movies with my general focus being on the marketing savvy of Marvel, which I'm still impressed by.

After the release of The Dark Knight Rises, I felt it might be time to write a bit about the "comic wars" going on in the movie world. Then I left this half-formed post to simmer and stew while the Hollywood landscape continued to evolve.

In revisiting this post, I've decided that my general starting point can be phrased in the form of a question: What do you want out of a comic book movie? And how much does that matter?

I want action and entertainment and don't really care (at all) about the characters or their backstories of that fact that an actor is too old or too tall or too blonde (JOKING) to portray that specific character.

My hypothesis: The moviegoer's expectations are equally as important as their attachment to the source material when determining their enjoyment of the movie they're watching. Seems like a no-brainer, right? So then, come along with me, dear reader, as we explore the multi-faceted world of NerdWood. Wow. That's a terrible concept I've come up with!

DC VS Marvel

For some people (comic fans) this question is of the UTMOST importance and yields a vast trove of trolling material when you Google it. If you really want to read about it, sans the nitty-gritty, nerd details, but with a healthy dose of sarcasm - see what Cracked has to say.

So what does this battle mean to me? Zip. Zilch. Nada. I didn't grow up on them and therefore don't have strong feelings towards either camp. So - who creates better characters? Who writes better stories? Beats me and I don't particularly care.

Are the Batman movies better than the Iron Man movies? No. Does it have anything to do with which publisher produced the source material? Not in my world.

For the record, I grew up on Judge Dredd so all these, "nice guy" American comic characters always seemed, "quaint" to me. Batman is equally as lame as Iron Man is equally as lame as The Hulk and so on and so forth for all their respective creations.

Which is funny because DC fans have that need filled by Batman - he's darker, less stable, more the anti-hero, living and fighting in a grittier urban landscape. Which is fine. You'd think I would fall under that pervasive DC spell, but I don't.

And just to be clear: I don't hate Batman, but he's never really resonated with me either. And, to be honest, as much as I love Christian Bale, I don't like his awkward, stilted performance as Batman.

I hate that it's as though the mainstream populace has only just now noticed Christian Bale (since playing Batman) when he's been so consistently amazing prior to that. American Psycho?... Come on, people!

I go in with absolutely no baggage because I don't are about the source material on either side. So, that eliminated one level of expectation, for me, going into any Marvel or DC movie. 

That's not 100% true. It actually means that I WANT darker, Cursed Earth-ier worlds, with uncomplicated character interactions - not twisting, interconnected, long-term, convoluted, character backstories and drama.

So that immediately makes any Marvel movie more palatable than any of the recent Batman movies.

Comics VS Movies

Some stories are great in comic form because they are huge, ongoing, complicated, etc. Those stories aren't necessarily great for movies. A movie is - let's be honest - between 1-3 hours long. Even at their longest, a movie isn't a fantastic format for something on-going. A movie is better suited for a discrete story. Sometimes, this rule can be bent a bit for "manageable chunks of a bigger story." Bottom line here: pick your source material well and make sure that the story you're telling is made for FILM not paper.

So who makes better comics and who makes better movies? And who has been more successful at converting their comics into movies? I (nearly) don't care.

I think, overall, Marvel has been significantly more successful at creating compelling movie versions of their comic universe. They've also worked harder at creating an interconnected universe of movies, where it seems like DC hasn't quite realized that's an option.

I do think that, individually, the Marvel movies have been brighter, shinier, and more like delicious candy than the products of DC's efforts. I could spin that in either direction, as a good thing or bad thing but, I don't really know that it matters to me, in terms of which movies I enjoy more.

And so, I have to ask the ever pretentious Christopher Nolan, what the hell have you been thinking when creating these Batman movies? Subplots are one thing. Plot twists are another. But if it feels like the movie and its story came to an end part of the way through the run time, please don't ask me to sit around and pay attention while you try to tell me ANOTHER story before the credits roll. Just make another movie. Or hire an editor. Or both. Or get over yourself. Yeah. That, too.

Second expectation: I need the source comic material to be translated well into movie form for me to enjoy it, regardless of the studio behind it.

Intellectual VS Action

I'd like my comic movies to be "more action" and "less talking". I don't really want to be part of some existential exploration on the nature of evil or humanity within the context of a comic movie. I just want chase scenes and fights and excitement and adrenaline. 

This here - this expectation is really the tipping point in my world for Marvel movies VS DC movies and it's related to my last point: don't bore the crap out of me. I want to be entertained when I watch a comic movie.

Maybe it's the overrated hand of Christopher Nolan - a man who may have been good at his job some time ago - but has had his directorial ego inflated so significantly that he can hardly separate his "style" from his actual movies and their material. 

What I'm saying is, not every movie is meant to be an artsy, surreal exploration of the human condition. Sometimes a fucking cigar should just be a cigar. 

And in the end: no, I haven't enjoyed any of the recent Batman movies. I've found them boring and long. And boring. AND long. And without anything to make me, a non-source-comic fan, gather up any interest to watch the movies. Which is where Marvel has certainly trumped DC in their movie-making efforts; anyone can fall in love with The Avengers. Only Batman fans can love The Dark Knight Rises. 

Watch the Dark Knight Rises trailer here:


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