Editorial: My Suggestions on Making a Good Comic Book Movie
Hey guys. These are some suggestions on how to make an effective movie. I am obviously not an expert but I just want to share my ideas. Please share yours!
Adapting a superhero comic book to a the big screen isn't an easy task. It is one that requires a great deal of dedication, patience, and passion. Though both of types of media are forms of storytelling, the criteria in which their effectiveness is based differs greatly. Due to an already established source material and 2 different demographics; it is no wonder directors and executive producers are often bewildered in discerning which elements belong on the silver screen, and which belong to the pages of a comic book while still pleasing a very mixed audience. Based on the superhero movies I've seen, I have arranged a rundown of my personal opinion on what makes a good superhero comic book movie.
1. Make the superhero's alter ego very grounded or very human
I think it is already a given that despite their spectacular powers or their very optically pleasing costumes, superheroes are still accessible to their viewers because of their alter ego. Part of Spider-Man's appeal is that his anyone can easily relate to Peter Parker because he faces real world problems that we, ourselves are very much prone to. I think its so striking to see how such an exceptional and super-powered human struggle with a problem that his super powers will not help be able to him with such as his career, love, and possibly mortality. Through this we see that the hero is in fact a person, like us and not just a faceless and boring individual. It adds depth to the story and is a great way to make the audience easily identify and sympathize with the character.
2.Choose a tone and setting that works for the character.
Part of what made Nolan's movies such a success was the fact that Nolan played on the strengths of Batman's character and world. Much like in many incarnations of the character, Nolan grounded the universe in which Batman lived in. He made Gotham dark and realistic and a place where the the masterminds behind organized crime would prosper. The villains are high ranked underworld criminals, corrupt officials, jaded assassins,and mentally broken yet psychologically testing individuals. This realistic feel brought by Nolan is such an ideal setting for Batman, and while I agree that this closes doors to powered villains like Killer Croc, it stills seems to work as Batman does spend a great deal of time dealing with Mafia Bosses and powerless criminals. That being said, not all movies need a dark tone. Superheroes like Superman, Spider-Man, and Green Lantern can afford to have a more vibrant and comic book-y tone.
3.Do not make death for important characters a cliche
Death is a really powerful element in storytelling. It can add a whole new level of emotion for not only the characters but also the people who watch it or see it happen. In order for it to be meaningful and effective, it should be used sparingly and the victim of demise must be chosen carefully.The more time death occurs, the more normal it becomes. The more normal it becomes, the less shock value out of the death, which is a bad thing. It is also worth noting that Keeping your characters alive for longer allows for more comprehensive character development, which is why villains should be kept alive after they've been defeated. Keeping the villains for later use in a movie sets the stage for a more vengeful and grander return.
4. If possible, do a social commentary.
Novels and other forms of literature find their place in our world because they challenge social conventions and get us thinking about other important issues dealing with our lives. Since comics are forms of visual storytelling, I don't see why writers shouldn't do this more often. Watchmen was critically acclaimed for its story structure and multitude of underlying and meaningful messages. It criticized the idea of how we put our lives at the hands of others, through the Comedian; it criticized the human condition and our moral compass, it criticized America's state of mind in thinking that they are essentially invulnerable, and many others. Because of these themes and addressing of issues, it has caught the eyes of not only avid comic readers, but also the mainstream press; who considered it to be one of, if not, the best comic book ever. This is really important, especially today, where comic book heroes are struggling to find importance in our world. Addressing social issues and making meaningful stories will not only make heroes more relevant in the society we live in, but it might also help silence critics who dismiss comics as "nothing but immature children's books"
5. Make the hero vulnerable to something
What fun is a story if there is no conflict? Conflict is an important asset in making a story interesting. So when we are presented a hero with abilities that no one else has, it is important that he/she is faced with a challenge that will be very trying. One of the most memorable scenes in comic book movie for me would have to be the final fight scene in the first Spider-Man. I watched in horror as Spider-Man was being beaten to a bloody pulp by the Green Goblin, however, felt a sense of prevail after Spider-Man got the upper hand. Very effective fight scene. These challenges, however, go beyond a physical level. The challenge can be mentally trying with villains such as the joker or Lex Luthor. There can also be emotionally trying such as the hero's bitchy girlfriend or even problems in life itself. Basically, making a hero vulnerable to something keeps him/her from being overpowered. Putting them in peril and in dangerous situations bring upon suspense in the climax, but they bring upon triumph and redemption once the hero inevitably overcomes the struggle.
6. Do not retcon
A retcon or Retroactive Continuity is a story device used by writers to change part of a character's past to accommodate a new story-line while still maintaining the progression of a story. Take for example Spider-Man 3, where Uncle Ben's killer was actually revealed to be Sandman instead of the other crook from the first film. Retcons are completely unnecessary because as book movies aren't released as frequently as monthly comics and the movie series usually do not last as long as comic books. This means that the movies are more well planned and that their series are less congested with lackluster stories that deserve to be removed. Furthermore, the viewers may also feel cheated as they had an emotional investment in a strong scene in a previous movie, only to have it re-written later on.
7. Do not stick too close to the comics
I think we can all agree that a faithful adaptation of a comic book character is the way to go when making a movie. Fundamentals such as the characters, themes, personalities, and setting shouldn't be tampered with . However, I think that the storyline is where the freedom of creative license can hang loose. There are many famous comic story arcs that will translate well on the big screen but wouldn't a 100% faithful adaptation be uninteresting and predictable? After all, wouldn't the comic of which the movie is based off, be one whole spoiler alert? The Walking Dead is the prime example of how well the slightly modified storyline formula works. Even though we've read the comics, we can still identify the characters and the plot, yet still anticipate each episode to see how things will play out. I'm not saying that comic story arcs shouldn't be adapted, nor should they be bastardized, but rather that directors should stay away from the mindset that a movie that is a carbon copy of the comic would please the fans. The directors should take some creative liberties and incorporate elements that seem to work from many different comics and combine them to create something fresh, unexpected, and something worthwhile.
Agree or disagree with my suggestions? Think I missed something or misinterpreted something? Please feel free to comment below. Thank you for reading!!!
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