Fighting Superhero Fatigue: Varying Tone

Welcome to entry 3 of Fighting Superhero Fatigue. Today we’ll discuss varying tone in superhero movies. This one is kinda related to Simon Pegg’s comments.

These characters have many stories that have a wide range of events all over the tonal spectrum. So, let’s act like it. These characters have existed for decades. Consequently, there is no reason to keep digging from the same exact tonal well. There is a very specific reason for this. Success breeds imitation.

The Chris Nolan Effect

Dark Knight Trilogy
the beginning…

Chris Nolan deserves all the blame for DC’s current tonal stagnation. His dark and gritty approach to his Batman trilogy was so successful that copying was inevitable. We are 3 movies into the DCEU and each of the three has massive dark overtones. Even the colorful Suicide Squad couldn’t get away from the dark overtones. DC doesn’t have to be inherently dark. It was a perfect storm for Nolan. The biggest reason that it was appropriate is because 99% of that trilogy took place in Gotham.

However, with this new universe that hasn’t been the case. Regardless of that, they put a huge focus on making everything from the tone to the visuals dark and grim. Remember, we want entertainment and escapism. That would be easier to achieve with a varying tone. Now Marvel has tried for the most part to avoid being so dark. That leads me to my next point.

Too Many Jokes

There are too many jokes in Marvel movies. It doesn’t actually bother me that much. But, I see where people are coming from when they say it. For those who think  Disney ruins Marvel because everything is too kid friendly, you couldn’t be more wrong. Providing levity is a great plot device when used properly. Again, I don’t personally have an issue with it. However, The MCU has Iron Man, Starlord, Ant-Man, and Spiderman as the main comic relief. That should be good enough. Instead, basically everyone makes jokes all the time. Consequently, it messes up the balance. The way the MCU is set up, they wanted to have comic relief for every movie. That’s cool until the team-ups happen.

Age of Ultron
Who in this picture doesn’t have a joke in Age of Ultron?

Take Civil War for instance. Tony Stark has long been established in universe as a wise guy. Hawkeye was a plot device at first in the Avengers, then they expanded his funny side. Falcon was comic relief in Captain America: Winter Soldier. So when you get to Civil War, you have those three, Spiderman and Ant-man already established as “funny guys”. That doesn’t really leave room in some people’s eyes for one-liners from everyone else. 

The Future

Varying tone is likely the most subjective fix for superhero fatigue. The question of if they even need to be fixed would conjure a hot debate. I lean toward fixing them. After all, variety is the spice of life. I can’t believe I just said that. Clearly I need to stop writing.

Be sure to check out other entries in the series, the preamble, and origin stories. Also, make sure to come back next week when we’ll discuss the villain problem.

Spiderman Garfield Maguire Holland

Fighting Superhero Fatigue: Reboots and Origin Stories

Welcome to the second entry of Fighting Superhero Fatigue. Today our focus is reboots and origin stories. I know that in your time surfing the web you’ve seen at least one article about “not another Spiderman”. Usually these complaints are people who don’t understand continuity and how the MCU is set up. Who can blame them? The rights issue at Marvel is quite complicated to follow at times.

Marvel character rights
A map of the current rights of the Marvel universe.

The Argument

There is merit in the root of their argument. Reboots and origin stories need to reduce tremendously. To be fair, they have been trending in the right direction. Also to be fair, quite a few of them were warranted. In the past 30 years we’ve had 3 Supermans, 4 Batmans, 2 Turtles, 2 Captain Americas, 3 FF4s, 2 X-Men(kinda), 3 Spider-mans, 2 Daredevils, and 3 Hulks. Given how these movies and characters work now, it’s quite a lot. In the modern era of superhero movies, most pretty much belong to a larger universe.

At Marvel, rights issues limit this goal. DC doesn’t have those issues. However, they are just starting their cinematic universe. So yes, when characters join a universe, they need introduction and any existing movies need to reboot. Nevertheless, you don’t have to waste the viewers’ time.

DC’s Misstep

This happened with the DCEU’s first two movies. Batman and Superman are probably the two most well-known superheroes ever. That’s no exaggeration. We’ve seen countless representations on television and in movies. As a result, there wasn’t a true need to do an entire origin story movie for Superman. Along those lines, there was definitely no need to go over Batman’s parents dying again. The latter was especially unnecessary, as it lead to the worst moment in modern day superhero movies.

Batman Martha
Batman apologizes for the “Martha” moment.

However, the rest of DC’s roster has not seen much big screen time. Consequently, I don’t foresee the origin issue popping up again in their universe.

Marvel’s Shining Example

On Marvel’s end, they brought in Spiderman perfectly. He’s a popular hero with 5 movies in the past 20 years. In about 5 minutes they gave us everything we needed to know without being super repetitive. Teenager with powers derived from an accident? Check. Socially awkward, while being incredibly smart? Check. Single aunt May, meaning that uncle Ben is dead? Check. With great power comes great responsibility? Check, and without even saying it.

Spiderman catches Winter Soldier
Spidey vs Buckey

Now Marvel absolutely has potential to screw up reboots or origin stories. All it takes is the X-men or Fantastic Four moving to the MCU. Hell, they could try to shoehorn something into Homecoming that isn’t necessary. They aren’t perfect, they just have a good general track record so far. 

The Future

The only major heroes left where this issue could pop up are Green Lantern, the X-Men, and the Fantastic4. In those cases you just really have to temper your expectations. However, I’d say we should be safe with those. Each of them will need introductions if they enter their companies’ current universes. Conversly, Spiderman: Homecoming isn’t safe. Marvel could make the mistake of putting too much exposition in which isn’t necessary. Especially since Spiderman is such a popular character. Additionally, they did a great job of introducing him in Civil War. We will be fine with just a good story, leave out the exposition.

If this is your first post in the series, make sure to go check out the Preamble here. Also make sure to come back next week where we’ll discuss varying tones in comic book movies.

Fighting Superhero Fatigue: Preamble



Superhero fatigue is real. Sometimes I don’t want to admit it. Regardless, it can easily become a problem for each of us. The movie studios should know this and I’ve come up with some ways to help them out. I’ll tell you all about it in my new, weekly miniseries “Fighting Superhero Fatigue”.

 

If you know me or have been around for awhile, you know I love superhero movies. Due to the fact that it’s a huge part of what we at NaG District do, in addition to personal enjoyment. I’ll likely never tire of new releases. Of course most comic book geeks likely feel that same way. The issue is, the studios don’t really make them for us. Instead, their point is to bring in new viewers every time. Comic book movie fatigue is something I’ve been hearing about for a while now. So, let’s look at some ways studios can delay potential waning interest. For this first entry, let’s talk about a complaint I’ve heard that I think is stupid.

Simon Pegg already has Superhero Fatigue

We’re looking right back at you Mr. Pegg.

Most NaGs should know who Simon Pegg is. After all, he participates in several aspects of geekdom. Even if you don’t know him by name, you have likely seen his work. A 2015 a Cinemablend article quoted him saying, 

“Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things—comic books, superheroes… Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.”

Further quotes from the article state that he may, “retire from geekdom.” Additionally, he’s become “the face of a movement, of a generation of a subculture, which is something he doesn’t want.” He even goes so far as to mention getting away from the genre work that has basically made his career and moving on to  “serious acting”. Remember, this article came out in 2015. Three movies coming in the next year or so that are firmly entrenched in geek culture, including a new Star Trek, feature Simon Pegg. Also, interest of fairness, sometimes articles twist words around and Simon wrote a blog here. In the blog he addresses this article, so go check it out. 

You be the judge of that. I’m not here to bash Simon. As far as the quotes attributed to him, I couldn’t disagree more. I find it very hard to believe that adults are taking these movies seriously. But more importantly, real life is hard. Who the hell wants to always see real life when they are searching for entertainment? For those who do, there are options. Let the rest of us have our escapes from reality that, not for nothing, fill up Mr. Pegg’s pockets and pay his bills.

He has a point

Even after saying that, I will admit that there are aspects of current superhero movies that could use some cleaning up. We want to prolong the shelf life of the genre and stave off superhero fatigue. The studios definitely have things to tweak or fix. Be sure to come back for next week’s entry. I’ll attack a frequently expressed concern about these movies and that is constant reboots and origin stories. Until then, let us know your thoughts in the comment section and we hope to see you here next week.

My Opinion’s Better: X-men Vs MCU Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of My Opinion’s Better: X-men Vs MCU. In case you missed part one, you can check it out here. In summary, part one showed an article that I read and condensed the 15 redundant points down to 6. Finally, let’s address their remaining points favoring Fox in the battle of X-Men vs MCU.

Diversity
Check out all the diversity!!!

In the article, the writer admits that this “isn’t an entirely fair comparison” and they’re right. They complain about “white guys named Chris” hogging lead roles in the MCU, yet cry out for a Black Widow movie. Now I’m not sure if they tune into anything other than comic movies.  A quick google search shows that Scarlett Johansson is the face of one of the biggest white washing controversies in recent memory. Whether it’s valid or not we won’t address here.

Additionally,  X-Men movies haven’t been a melting pot themselves as far as main characters go. Outside of The Wolverine, the only non-white non-male that has been prominent despite not being the main character is Mystique. Storm was also given her chance to shine in the early movies. Meanwhile Falcon, Rhodey, Black Widow, Pepper Pots, etc. have played big supporting roles in the MCU. Also, barring any drastic changes to projected films, the MCU will feature a non-white male as the lead before Fox.

My winner: MCU

Wider Variety Of Stories

So for this point, the writer takes two similar things and purposely applies different criteria when comparing them. They break the MCU down to its common denominator and formula for their stories. They summarize Thor, Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange as stories about a “guy who’s kind of a jerk, but has the potential to be more”. There is definitely some truth to that. However, this explanation literally applies to Wolverine, Magneto in First Class, Xavier in Days of Future Past, and Deadpool. The writer goes on to mention that while they weren’t great, each X-Men has been unique. Oh great, it’s ok to be subpar as long as you present it slightly differently….

My winner: X-Men

Faithful Adaptations
Did anyone really expect this?

Here’s the argument we always seem to come back to. No matter what this writer would have you believe, Comic Book Movies are Never going to be Comic Accurate. Again, the writer compares two similar things in separate ways. The writer mentions that Age of Ultron, Civil War, and likely Ragnarok aren’t identical to the stories they came from. That’s true. However, the only example they brought up for the X universe is Days of Future Past. They state that though some characters are different, the skeleton remains similar.

I know nobody expected this.

Of course there is no mention of the abortion that was the dark Phoenix saga from X-Men: The Last Stand. They don’t bring up that a character nicknamed “The Merc with a mouth” made his first appearance in the universe with his mouth sewn shut. They don’t care that Juggernaut is a mutant and not Porfessor X’s brother in the films.

My winner: MCU

Death Matters
Death Matters!!!

I’ll keep this one short. The first examples they site are Jean and Scott dying. After explaining their deaths, the writer actually types, “Even though they were eventually resurrected, their deaths both had a big impact on the following movies”. The article goes on to complain about Agent Coulson dying and coming back which had a big impact on the Avengers forming as a team and allowed Marvel to start their TV universe. This is the last of the double standards, I promise.

My winner: Tie

Fox Takes Bigger Risks

This is true. Kinda. The writer, of course, uses Deadpool and it’s successful run despite being rated R. It was a risk. But it’s a risk that Fox never wanted to take. Even after Deadpool’s success, Fox still didn’t want to take that risk again with Logan.  Both movies received roadblocks including smaller budgets. One reason they give for Fox’s risk being bigger was that Deadpool wasn’t a “household name”. Deadpool has been in countless games and shows before this movie came out. Not to mention the fan outcry against X-Men: Origins and the overwhelming response to the leaked test footage for a proper version. Even if people had a negative view of the character, which would have been Fox’s fault, clearly somebody knew who the character was.

The risk they addressed from the MCU is, predictably, Guardians of the Galaxy. This movie contained characters that most people actually didn’t know, and if they did, didn’t care about. On top of that, the cast consisted of actors who weren’t exactly the biggest stars. In fact, the biggest 3 names at the time were unrecognizable. This was a pretty big risk, which I think was on par with Deadpool. Also, the MCU revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career and took a risk on him by making him the centerpiece.

My winner: Tie

Bringing Unfilmable Characters To Life
Sentinel you look familiar

To paraphrase a line from a screenjunkies news video, Galactus was a huge purple fart ball. Apocalypse looked like a blue Ivan Ooze. Their positive example from Fox was the Sentinels. Well they looked a lot like the Destroyer from the first Thor movie initially. The MCU provided an 8 foot tall tree man and a talking racoon in the same film. I think it’s at least a tie in this category.

Oooooohhh

My winner: Tie

So who wins x-men vs mcu?

I stated in part 1 that I didn’t think this was a fair comparison. X-Men vs MCU is an incomplete contest. I still feel that way and I stand by that the two shouldn’t be compared. My preference out of the 2 is the MCU. However, maybe a better written article without so many double standards would sway me. The writer seems to have not seen these movies or has some type of extreme bias. The former is not acceptable at all, but the latter is fine for an opinion piece. But, as the title says, My Opinion’s Better.

My Opinion’s Better: X-men Vs MCU Part 1

I recently read  an article entitled 15 Reasons Why The X-Men Movies Are Better Than The MCU Movies.  The article claims that if the X-Men Vs MCU was a battle, Fox would be the victorious studio. That’s an opinion and it’s fine and dandy, but My Opinion’s Better.

Before we continue, notice that the article is specifically talking about the X-men vs MCU. This isn’t fair. A more fair comparison would be “Fox’s Marvel movies” vs MCU. Comparing the MCU to one franchise is not fair. Their are more issues to deal with when you have a multiverse vs a universe. Also, nobody can dispute the absolute trainwreck that the Fantastic 4 franchise has been. So in the interest of fairness to the argument, I’ll be referencing the Fantastic 4 movies. Additionally, in the interest of fairness to the article, I’ll include a reason from the X-Men movies every time.

The phases of the MCU.
Condensing the Points

I strongly feel the MCU wins pretty convincingly. Now they give 15 reasons, seemingly to fulfill some word count quota. Also, at a certain point, some of the explanations become repetitive. Therefore, let’s address and get rid of some of theses reasons immediately. The 15 points the writer offers are:

Quicksilver, Villains’ Motivations, X-Men Actually Has A Message, Diversity, A Wider Variety of Stories, Faithful Adaptations, Looser Continuity Allows More Freedom, Narrative Freedom(yes, they use the word freedom in back to back points after praising the “faithful adaptations”), Looking to the Future, Death Matters, Xavier and Magneto’s Friendship, Fox Takes Bigger Risks, Bringing Unfilmable Characters to Life, The White House Attack, and Setting Up Sequels

Two of the advantages they give Fox are pretty much undeniable. Fox did Quicksilver better. I can’t see an argument for anyone who wants to dispute that point. Also, there isn’t a relationship in the MCU on the same level as Professor X and Magneto. MCU fanboys may argue, but that’s just being silly.

Message and  Villains’ Motivations should really be one point which goes with the Xavier and Magneto point. The looking to the future, narrative freedom, looser continuity, and setting up sequels points all serve one purpose. They attack the tight continuity of the MCU. The White House Attack point is literally one scene out of 17 years. Honestly, for it’s time it was extremely impressive and it holds up. However, it’s not even the most impressive scene in the X-Men movies and isn’t strong enough to be a point. This leaves us with 6 points left that we’ll address in part 2 of My Opinion’s Better: X-men Vs MCU.

Hollywood: The Copycat Business | Transformers Vs Fate of the Furious

Hollywood the Copycat

Hollywood is an industry. All businesses depend on some type of model, plan, or formula to operate. Competition is rampant, yet different studios collaborate more often than they consciously know. Let’s get rhetorical for a moment. Have you ever seen a movie or trailer and get the feeling of Deja Vu? Almost like the two studios are playing copycat with one another? Rules of business would suggest that they might. However, this probably isn’t the case.

What do I mean by copycat?

Dictionary.com defines the verb form of copycat as to imitate or mimic. Now maybe some will still misunderstand. Allow me to explain. A phenomenon exists where two movies released in one year contain a similar plot and a common basic theme. While  it happens fairly often, two examples include  Armageddon/Deep Impact and  Antz/A Bug’s Life.

One of the earliest animated instances that wasn’t just plagiarism.
Batman V Superman: Civil War

So let’s look at BvS and Civil War. Regardless of there differences, similarities exist. Both movies show heroes facing off against each other because of ideological differences. Those differences turn out to be a contributor, not the catalyst. Later on, the movies reveal that an unpowered villain is pulling the strings. This enemy’s plan includes an additional powered enemy whom he controls. Ultimately, both sides make up and work together. A basically unknown hero comes in and evens the odds.  Eventually, the Billionaire hero with no powers, but amazing technology goes against his morals and decides to kill. While that is quite a bit in common, these movies don’t really feel the same. The setups, conclusions, and execution of these movies are vastly different and that may be the key. Too often the movies who “copy” one another feel the same so it’s obvious that the plots are so similar.

Transformers: The Fate of the Last Furious War

The Fate of the Furious, and Transformers: The Last Knight are the potential next pair to display this phenomenon. These franchises have some similarities and, like the last pair, you may not have picked up on it. Both have an incredible focus on vehicles. The protagonists in both often find themselves up against law enforcement. Also, there’s an overlapping theme of loyalty and family. That’s about where it stops. The “good guy gone bad” trope ties this pair of parallel films to last year’s.

 

Copycat Movie Winners

Now the thing with this phenomenon is that similarity breeds competition. There is always a clear winner and loser either critically or financially in the public’s eyes. A Bug’s Life beat Antz, Armageddon beat Deep Impact, and Civil War beat BvS. We explored similarities between the Transformers and Fast franchises. Though one key difference that makes me confident to predict a winner. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen brought in more money at the domestic box office than its predecessor. However, every entry in the series since has seen a monetary decline with the sharpest drop being around $110 M. Conversely, while 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift experienced decline, the trend reversed afterwards. The biggest jump in domestic box office from one Fast movie to the next was around $120 M.

My prediction

I’m leaning toward The Fate of the Furious winning this battle. I’ll even boldly say it will at least double the domestic box office of Transformers: The Last Knight. But who knows? Maybe Optimus vs the Autobots won’t be that prevalent throughout the movie. Maybe there won’t be anything to compare. We’ll see.

Welcome to NaG District: Up And Running

Welcome to NaG District.

It’s been an interesting road. Because of the help from so many individuals, we now have our own site. Finally we have the opportunity to expand the reach of the NaG District brand. It excites me to no end to be able to expand and to create.

What is NaG District?

So, let’s explain the name. The “NaG” in NaG District stands for Nerds and Geeks. If that sounds broad, it’s because it is. I specifically included both words to represent the wide spectrum that is geekdom. In order to do that, I needed multiple platforms. As a result, the brand has slowly, but surely spread. Our brand started with a Facebook group. We also have two Facebook pages.

One of the memes from the Nerds and Geeks United Facebook page

We have since grown to include Google+, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Additionally, we have a Youtube and a Vidme channel. This is a lot, yet I welcome the challenge.

Why make a NaG District site?

That is a great question. Everything in life evolves. The website is the next natural step in our journey. In addition, having no restrictions and total control over content is my main objective. The website also provides unique opportunities for promotion. Furthermore, the website should allow for more growth.

What can you expect from NaG District moving forward?

From the outset, our goal was to explore various aspects of geek culture. Including, but not limited to comic books, movies, television, video games, etc. More recently, I’ve started to post personal blogs as well as give my opinions on various social issues also. We have several series that we produce including RanTdom and My Opinion’s Better. Whether it be through text or video posts, we hope to offer a unique and thought provoking perspective. While there will be plenty ongoing changes, hopefully you guys stick around until we get this thing right. In conclusion, welcome to our little slice of crazy, relax and participate like we are one big family. This shall be epic.