Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Why Can't Warner Bros Make Fun Superhero Films?

The new Iron Man 3 trailer arrived yesterday and damn me it looks good. Most of the Marvel films over the last few years have been good, solid superhero films that manage to stand on their own as well as merge into the excellent Avengers film that really did deliver all it promised.

I'm a DC fan, though, and I find myself wondering why DC (and its parent company Warner Bros) are finding it so difficult to emulate the success Marvel have had, not to mention Fox with the X-Men franchise.

DC's big film success over the same sort of period has been limited to Christopher Nolan's excellent Batman trilogy. The only other attempt - at least for the main DCU - in recent years was the woefully inadequate Green Lantern film (and as a GL fan, I really wanted that to work.) There's been talk of a Justice League film for some time but now that's apparently going to be tied to the success or failure of this year's Superman film which is also going to be the gauge on whether or not there's a Batman reboot. And this week a new rumour surfaces that Nolan's going to be involved in the League film, along with a Christian Bale Batman.

That's likely to be nothing more than hogwash but from what we've seen of the Superman film so far seems to have a stronger connection to Nolan's Batman films in terms of an emotional feel. It appears to be somewhat serious, tackling Superman's existence as if he were in the real world, something that Nolan did very well in his films.

But here's the thing: while you might (at a slight stretch) be able to believe in Batman's tech and abilities as shown in Nolan's films, you need a bigger suspension of disbelief to think the same when it comes to Iron Man, Thor or even Captain America. They're big, brash and slightly silly in places when it comes to their concepts - but blimey, they're good fun.

Should Nolan be involved in a Justice League film, would it follow the same sensibilities as his Batman films? Would we be looking at a Flash or Martian Manhunter struggling to come to terms with how their powers affect their interactions with those around them? Maybe, but I'd rather see them run fast, turn invisible and change their shape to impersonate people. In short, I'd rather see them having fun.

Marvel - and Fox - have shown that there's a market for good superhero films that don't gaze at their navels, that don't worry about the ramifications of the internal struggle of their heroes, that don't bother with angst. They've shown that people enjoy watching well acted, well made adventure films that make you want to root for the heroes.

I just wonder when Warner Bros - and DC by extension - are going to wise up and do the same.


  1. I disagree that the Marvel method is the only way to do it. In fact, I'd be pretty upset if DC movies started going that way.

    1. The Marvel method might not be the only way but Warner Bros have to do something different if they want audiences to enjoy their superheroes. As much as I liked the Batman films by Nolan, I can't see that same world or type of environment allowing for multiple superpowered heroes. Can you imagine Christian Bale's Batman having a conversation with Wonder Woman?

      I'd love to see a successful Superman movie, followed by a Batman reboot, followed by a Justice League film - I'm just not sure that Warner Bros have the courage to let the film-makers do what they need to. Following the let down of Green Lantern, a lot was said about studio interference changing the film, despite it being made by the guy who reinvented Bond in Casino Royale.

      I really want DC's films to be a hit, I really do, and I hope I'm worrying over nothing.

    2. As far as the interconnectedness of the Avengers movies, I wouldn't want a Justice League franchise to be like that. We had a Justice League like that. It was the Bwa-ha-ha League.

    3. Not sure I agree there - the individual Marvel films have contained an element of fun (particularly the Iron Man films) but they're not comedies. And hey, the Giffen DeMatteis League could do serious as well.


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