Gopher Guts: Mutilated Source Material.(and Not What You Think)
My thoughts on the current trend in comic book movies.
It's been a heck of a year for all us fanboys/girls. We had both hits and misses but overall, there is little doubt in my mind that 2012 was one of the best years for CBM.
We got to see the culmination of the last 5 years of CBM's come to fruition. With The Avengers, Marvel showed the world that dark and gritty is not the only way to make a (successful) superhero movie. That we, as an audience could enjoy light-hearted camp/heart-pounding action when written and directed by someone who understands what I think was the core dynamic of a superhero team.
We saw the end of arguably the best superhero trilogy to date, The Dark Knight Rises. Love him or hate him, Nolan has done more for CBM’s then we give him credit for. Chief among them is bringing superhero movies away from the “kiddy table”, so to speak, in the eyes of critics and movie goers alike.
But with all the success in the box office, there is something that I find troubling as a fan of comics, and to me it is a dirty word.
Ret-con, or retroactive continuity for those who don’t know is the alteration of previously established facts in a fictional work. This could be done for many reasons in the comic book world. New writers or creative teams want to revise the in-story history to allow a course of events that would not have been possible in the story's original continuity. Other reasons might be the reintroduction of popular characters, resolution of errors in chronology, the updating of a familiar series for modern audiences, or simplification of an excessively complex continuity structure.
We’ve see this a lot in the past few years. Most notably in DC’s New 52, but all publishers do this from time to time to bring 50 to 60 year old heroes into modern times. Ironman comes to mind as a character that has been ret-conned in a manner which makes since. By changing his captors from the Vietcong to a Middle Eastern terrorist cell, the writers allowed Stark to remain relevant to the times.
While it hasn’t happened yet, I fear that all too soon we will see this happen in a negative way in the future. With so many adaptations of comic book properties in the works, will we see a comic conform to movie continuity for the sake of publicity? In my honest opinion, yes we will.
I understand from a business stand point it sounds like a good idea. You already have a published work with scores of readers. Why not cash in on it, and let the readers basically pay for the advert to your upcoming movie. This will create a buzz as well as lay out the foundations for “trimming the fat” in the screenplay of unneeded exposition and character development.
Of course, this line of thinking comes at a price, alienating the core audience of that comic. All those who have invested our time, money, and most importantly our emotions in these comics will feel betrayed. We have all seen the results of straying away from the source material (looking at you Green Lantern) and it’s never good. Imagine the reaction from this community if the changes in GL where made cannon. We would be calling for the tar and feathering of the writers, and editors of said comic for allowing this to take place.
I guess what I am trying to say is while all the attention being thrown at comics as a whole is a good thing, don’t think for a second that the bubble is never going to burst. That somewhere a studio is not thinking in those same lines and will not hesitate to strong arm a comic creator in doing just that.
----Bishop “Gopher” Harcourt-----
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