The murmurs and mumbles of mediocrity started as early as Thor 2: The Dark World. They got louder with Black Widow. Louder still with Eternals. Then came the ire and fanboy rage over She-Hulk. And now it’s perhaps getting a bit too loud over Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
I’m sick of it.
In my day (shh, Mike Gold. Shh.) comic book movies were — at best — loud, kitschy affairs. For every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or ’89 Batman… we also got Howard the Duck, Superman III and IV, and Captain America. In the 90’s, Batman plummeted in quality, and was met by early CGI nightmares like Spawn, or obnoxious barely-based-on-their-source popcorn flicks like Judge Dredd or Tank Girl. And while these films were watchable… they were hardly of a caliber that one could present opposite more lucrative blockbuster sci-fi and action romps.
And then came Marvel.
It started unassumingly with Blade. Unlike so many neon-lit counterparts released prior… Blade felt like a horror action-movie. It was clearly inspired by the comic book origins and broad strokes of the character, but made smart choices in costuming, sets, and the watered-down plot. It wasn’t hokey. It was a blueprint.
1998’s Blade begat Bryan Singer’s X-Men. Similar to the vampire hunter… these were well-dressed (“what, you’d prefer yellow spandex?”) superheroes with well-thought-out effect work that made their mutant abilities feel believable. Combine this with the gravitas and star power of Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan, and slowly but surely, the zeitgeist was changing.
Take a side-step from the mainstream, and you could see Hollywood begin to lean into the pulp and paper world. Ghost World, From Hell, Road to Perdition, and my personal favorite American Splendor showcased that comics beyond the punchy kind would also be applicable to mainstream (if a bit arty) America. But I digress. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #081: Tired of your Marvel Malaise”