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Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age?

 
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Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 8/8/2012 7:55:00 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
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Is it even a genre? Things have certainly changed. Time was anything to do with comics (movies especially) were considered a joke, kids’ stuff.

The very first screen Batman (Lewis Wilson, the father of future Bond producer, Michael G Wilson, useless fact fans) was a cheaper than cheap cliffhanger serial complete with baggy tights. And the Zap! Pow! Camp! Adam West TV show in the 60s was beyond a joke – Holy Shit, Batman! And as for the dreaded Joel Schumacher…

But nowadays the finest actors and directors of their generation are queuing up to make ‘em. I’m talking the equivalent of Stanley Kubrick and Robert DeNiro. And yes, I think Nolan and Bale are that good. That smart. Even David Fincher (another Kubrick acolyte) came close to directing Spider-Man once.

So what’s changed? Doubtless there are those who will insist that Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy being hailed as an artistic triumph if not a masterpiece in some quarters just proves how “dumbed down” our culture has become. But I’d say it’s the exact opposite. That the culture has finally wised-up to the fact that comics (and super-heroes) aren’t ‘just’ kids’ stuff any more - not that there’s anything wrong with kid’s stuff! And that has got to be down to the long-term influence of Alan Moore and, especially, Frank Miller. While Tim Burton’s Batman paid lip service to the superficial trappings of Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns, in retrospect, it still owed more to the 60s TV show right down to a scene-stealing turn from a slumming movie star camping it up outrageously.

But the fact Burton’s film was inspired by Miller’s work at all, however superficially, shows just how influential The Dark Knight Returns was a mere three years after it was published. And for all its flaws, Burton’s Batman led to something of a comic book movie renaissance. Eventually. No Batman (1989) no X-Men (2000) – the Ground Zero of the current super-hero movie boom. So much so that rather being just another short-lived cinematic fad, the super-hero movie is showing remarkablesigns of becoming a genre in its own right, complete with as many subgenres as the western: Fun (Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Avengers); Dark (The Dark Knight Trilogy); Goth (Batman Returns, Hellboy); Camp (Batman (1966), Batman Forever); Emo (The Amazing Spider-Man); and Shit (Batman & Robin). There have even been spoofs (Super; Buckaroo Banzai; Mystery Men - which spoofed the X-Men before there was an X-Men movie!)

Which is kinda surprising. Cos for all the variations of style and tone (from Superman: The Movie to The Dark Knight – the bookends of the genre) super-hero movies tend to be a bit samey. Or rather the origin stories tend to be – traumatic childhood, inciting incident/freak accident, acquiring the costume/wonderful toys, the first-night-on-patrol montage, the final confrontation with the supervillain, to be continued… Sound familiar? Which is why super-sequels (X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight) tend to be better once all that origin gubbins is out of the way, although there are exceptions (Superman II, Iron Man 2 – not necessarily bad films, just not as good as the originals. Well, Superman II, certainly.)

But if Frank Miller’s influence on Tim Burton’s Batman was superficial (like so much of Burton’s style-over-substance filmography), his influence on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has been immeasurable. For if Batman Begins (and to a lesser extent, The Dark Knight) was Batman: Year One, then The Dark Knight Rises is The Dark Knight Returns in all but (almost identical) name.

Frank Miller’s influence on the current comic book movie boom has been enormous. Not just The Dark Knight but Daredevil and X-Men/Wolverine to Sin City and 300. Alan Moore’s too, although his influence has been subtler and less direct. While direct adaptations of Moore’s work have rarely been as good as the (overrated?) originals – suggesting that Nolan’s less direct approach to comic book adaptation is the best option – he too has been incredibly influential - Marvel/Miracleman’s undeniable influence on The Matrix, for instance. And (as EMPIRE recently pointed out) The Incredibles is a better Watchmen movie than Watchmen was! (It’s the best Fantastic Four movie too – they just switched their powers around.)

Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was OK if a bit too stiff and reverential. As if fawning adoration for Holy Scripture (and fear of its frankly rabid fans) literally petrified both film and filmmaker. But it was probably the best direct adaptation of that comic which could have been made and certainly better than a lot of ungrateful, impossible-to-please fans deserved. (The Lord of the Rings was another one. A “travesty,” apparently. Go figure.)

I would have loved to have seen the Paul Greengrass version, though. It was to have been set in an alternate present extrapolated from Moore’s 1985! And it came so close to getting made too – sets were built and actors cast. (Jude Law, Hilary Swank and Paddy Considine as Rorschach!) Even if Watchmen is still basically unfilmable. The whole point of Watchmen is it’s supposed to be a comic. It is a super-hero comic about super-hero comics. As Moore will never tire of saying, turning Watchmen into a movie rather missed the point. But then watching the finished film, which I enjoyed incidentally, I still can’t help feeling that, slavishly faithful though it was (HERESY ALERT! - the much better ending notwithstanding), that Snyder just didn’t get Watchmen. Rorschach should have been grating and monotonal not a snarling, Clint Eastwood toughguy. He was meant to be pathetic not “cool.” Completely missing the point about sad sack Rorschach was, notoriously, one of the biggest problems Moore had with his own fans at the time, contributing to his eventual withdrawal from fandom - and who could honestly blame him?

But another, even more fundamental (fandamental?) problem with Watchmen as a film, indeed with a lot of screen adaptations of Alan Moore’s work, is that it does rather cruelly expose just how silly (and overrated?) Watchmen was in the first place in a “You can type (and draw) this shit but you can’t say it,” sort of way. Watchmen stood out cos, then as now, 99% of super-hero comics were crap - Sturgeon's Law still applies! But what might seem “realistic” in a comic appears less so on the big screen. It’s one thing having a bunch of superannuated super-heroes confined within the frames of a comic book where they belong. But it’s something else entirely putting them on the big screen where (if it was done “properly”) it would just be a bunch of fat, middle-aged actors in tights. Like Adam West! (Or an anarchist terrorist in a Guy Fawkes mask for that matter – like that would ever happen. Er…)

Putting Watchmen on screen was akin to Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal The Wizard of Oz is just a cantankerous old bloke in an Old Testament beard who believes his own hype. I think no-one is more painfully aware of this than Moore himself and it’s part of the reason he is so bitterly opposed to the idea of film adaptations of his work. (He’s changed his tune, BTW. He was as excited as Dave Gibbons was at the prospect of a Joel Silver-produced, Terry Gilliam adaptation of Watchmen possibly starring Schwarzenegger as Dr Manhattan back in the early 90s. True.)

Frank Miller’s work has proved more adaptable to the screen. I think The Dark Knight transfers better to the big screen cos, from Daredevil to Sin City, Miller has always owed more to the inherently cinematic hard-boiled noir tradition than Moore’s super-hero comic tradition. Super-heroes have always proved a tricky proposition to adapt – great fun as The Avengers is, there’s simply no escaping the fact that Captain America’s costume looks silly. You only have to look at the pained expression worthy of Harrison Ford on Chris Evans’ face throughout!

Ultimately that is why Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has proved so successful, artistically and commercially. They are hardly super-hero films at all. The Dark Knight especially, which is just Heat with Pacino and DeNiro incongruously dressed as a bat and a clown! You could actually argue that for all their supposed “realism” (and Alan Moore himself has pointed out that “realistic super-heroes” is the biggest oxymoron there is - and he should know) that this makes The Dark Knight Trilogy very silly indeed when you think about it. I always wondered when someone would finally say: “Hang on a minute. You’re Bruce Wayne in a gimp suit putting on a silly voice.” (I think Richard Donner got it about right almost 35 years ago when he spoke of Superman: The Movie’s “verisimilitude.”)

Much as I love Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (which along with Richard Donner’s Superman are the greatest super-hero films of all, representing both ends of the super-hero spectrum – the dark and the colourful) I think I’m beginning to tire of all the angst-ridden, black-clad super-heroes bequeathed by Miller and Moore. And I suspect audiences just might agree with me. Which is why it’ll be interesting to see how The Dark Knight Rises ultimately fares against The Avengers at the global box office. While I’m sure it will be huge, I doubt it will be that huge. The Dark Knight caught a bleak, post-9/11, post-Credit Crunch wave four years ago. But I think that wave and The Dark Knight’s moment have passed and he will never be quite that big again. Think The Matrix and its sequels.

I thought at the time The Dark Knight marked something of a turning point (I still can’t believe that a film so relentlessly bleak - the hero fails and the girl dies! - was so phenomenally successful) and the subsequent Watchmen was something of a full stop on the whole “realistic” super-hero genre. These knights couldn’t get any darker, surely. It’s always darkest before the dawn. The only way is up, up and away…?

This was only confirmed for me when Watchmen’s snot-nosed, punk kid brother, Kick-Ass, burst onto the screen like an obnoxious teenager pissed-up on cheap cider not long after. Sure, it might have underperformed (so did Watchmen) but it was a loud, brash, less po-faced sign of things to come. This has already reached it four-coloured apotheosis with the fun (and funny) Avengers, the unparalleled success of which I think The Dark Knight Rises will struggle to match. Batman may have won the box office battle of 2008, but it looks like Iron Man’s going to win the war.

And no wonder. Comics themselves have changed too. After more than 20 years, the dark influence of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns is finally starting to wane. Super-hero comics are fun again – thanks in no small measure to another Miller – Mark. (The new Alan Moore? Like his ego needs any more inflating!) It’s only natural that super-hero movies should follow suit and embrace the silly. Or is that “follow cape…”?

So it’ll be interesting to see how Christopher Nolan (as producer) tackles The Man of Steel next year. He has already stated that he wants to make Superman “real” the same as his Batman. But this doesn’t necessarily mean “dark” – look how well that worked out for Superman Returns which couldn’t have got The Last Son of Krypton more wrong, portraying him as a mopey, lovesick teenager creepily abusing his powers to spy on his ex like some flying super-stalker. Bryan Singer is a great director when it comes to dour ensembles like X-Men and The Usual Suspects, but he was the wrong man for that particular job. [SACRILEGE ALERT!] Superman Returns and X-Men 3 would both have been vastly improved had they swapped directors, I think!

Where Batman lurks in the shadows, Superman should soar through the clouds – they really are night and day. Which is why it is reassuring when Nolan talks about getting the essence of these characters right. I think The Man of Steel is in safe hands. If Zack Snyder can resist overdoing the slo-mo for once, that is - he's supposed to be faster than a speeding bullet!

And something else has changed. The most “revolutionary” thing about Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is it has completed a process which began with Star Wars 35 years ago. While The Theatrical Knight, Alec Guinness, was clearly miffed (if well-reimbursed) that Obi-Wan Kenobi ended up overshadowing the rest of his distinguished acting career, he made it acceptable for ac-tors of the calibre of his fellow Shakespeareans Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen to appear in films like this.

To the point that Batman is now played by an Oscar winner and helmed by a director who has rightly been compared with Kubrick. We’ve come a long way from Adam West. It only took about 50 years. And just 25 years to catch up with Miller and Moore. Sir Alec might have thought he was slumming it, but Christian, Patrick and Ian (and Michael, Robert, Mark and Andrew) clearly don’t. Like a reformed vigilante, super-hero movies are respectable now. Being a geek, generally, is more socially acceptable now. I remember when openly discussing this stuff in public with “normal” people was like talking about pornography. Now with high-profile geeks from Tarantino to Whedon, Pegg to Tennant (with girlfriends and everything – I went to school with Pegg’s missus!) geek is now chic. The geek really has inherited the earth!

< Message edited by chris kilby -- 8/8/2012 9:42:29 PM >
Post #: 1
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 8:43:54 AM   
Timbzy


Posts: 183
Joined: 30/6/2012
No. They are still very young because they interest dummies and are horrible.

(in reply to chris kilby)
Post #: 2
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 11:20:45 AM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010
Thanks, cos I was wondering, like.

(Hang on a minute! Did you just call me a dummy...? )

< Message edited by chris kilby -- 9/8/2012 11:22:20 AM >

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Post #: 3
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 12:12:30 PM   
Rgirvan44


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Joined: 10/3/2006
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The Adam West show had more charm, humor, wit and fun than 90% of modern superhero movies.

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RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 12:21:09 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rgirvan44

The Adam West show had more charm, humor, wit and fun than 90% of modern superhero movies.


Quoted for truth.

(in reply to Rgirvan44)
Post #: 5
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 12:35:46 PM   
jackcarter


Posts: 1863
Joined: 12/1/2006
comic book/superheroe films are the 'in' thing at the moment (and the past decade) just like SF was in the late 70s/80s, biblical/roman epics of the 50s/early60s, gangster movies of the 30s/40s, westerns in the 50s/60s etc. give it another few years and everyone will be sick of the sight of superheroes (many of which will be on their 3rd or even 4th incarnation) and they'll take a back seat to another genre which will 'rise' to be the big daddy of the summer blockbusters (they'll still get made but less big budget, less big names appearing in them, less of an event)...although certain superheroes will be impervious to any shift in genre tastes and always be an event like a Bond film. - batman, superman, spiderman,

< Message edited by jackcarter -- 10/8/2012 12:46:23 PM >

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Post #: 6
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 4:54:21 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010
I'm still waiting for the western to make a proper, full-on comeback. It'll happen someday, I'm tellin' ya!

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Post #: 7
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 5:32:37 PM   
OPEN YOUR EYES

 

Posts: 4381
Joined: 5/2/2012

quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

I'm still waiting for the western to make a proper, full-on comeback. It'll happen someday, I'm tellin' ya!


I'd love the westerns to come back.
I though it was starting to with films such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,Open Range,3:10 to Yuma and True Grit but then it just slowly faded away again.

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RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 6:01:35 PM   
Olaf


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The main problem with your hypothesis is the suggestion that Frank Miller is better than Alan Moore. And the suggestion that Mark Millar is anything other than a hack who 'borrowed' his best ideas from Grant Morrison. just sayin.

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RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 6:09:49 PM   
OPEN YOUR EYES

 

Posts: 4381
Joined: 5/2/2012
Do people like Frank Miller?

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Post #: 10
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:12:03 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010
What? As a person?

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Post #: 11
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:18:58 PM   
OPEN YOUR EYES

 

Posts: 4381
Joined: 5/2/2012

quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.

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RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:40:01 PM   
AxlReznor

 

Posts: 1623
Joined: 2/12/2010
From: Great Britain

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rgirvan44

The Adam West show had more charm, humor, wit and fun than 90% of modern superhero movies.


It was also shit, whilst 90% of modern superhero movies are great.

(in reply to Rgirvan44)
Post #: 13
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:46:14 PM   
OPEN YOUR EYES

 

Posts: 4381
Joined: 5/2/2012
quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rgirvan44

The Adam West show had more charm, humor, wit and fun than 90% of modern superhero movies.


It was also shit, whilst 90% of modern superhero movies are great.


How anyone can regard Adam Wests Batman as shit is anyone's guess.It was amazing,I mean look.

Genius.He makes Christian Bales Batman look like an amateur.

< Message edited by OPEN YOUR EYES -- 9/8/2012 7:49:56 PM >

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Post #: 14
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:51:18 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010

quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.


You don't have to think someone's cute to enjoy or appreciate their work. So Miller's a bit of a dick (and a right wing dick at that - who'd have thunk?), but he's still a bloody good writer-artist. Or he was. (His recent output isn't anywhere as good as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns - but whose is? It's fashionable to diss Miller these days, but to me that's like asking: "What's Michelangelo done since he painted that ceiling...?")

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Post #: 15
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:55:54 PM   
AxlReznor

 

Posts: 1623
Joined: 2/12/2010
From: Great Britain

quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby


quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.


You don't have to think someone's cute to enjoy or appreciate their work. So Miller's a bit of a dick (and a right wing dick at that - who'd have thunk?), but he's still a bloody good writer-artist. Or he was. (His recent output isn't anywhere as good as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns - but whose is? It's fashionable to diss Miller these days, but to me that's like asking: "What's Michelangelo done since he painted that ceiling...?")



I know what Michaelangelo didn't do. Forget that he was writing a story about a pre-existing character that people already know and love, and then write godawful dialogue that sounds like it came from a completely different character. Not only that... a character from a completely different franchise! (In this case, Sin City). Oh, and making the character a genuine 100% flatout child abuser didn't help, either. Telling Robin to eat rats if he gets hungry? Really? Seriously... apart from those two stories and the early Sin City stuff, Miller's done nothing of worth. Jim Lee's artwork on All Star Batman & Robin however, is sublime. Shame it was wasted.

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Post #: 16
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:57:46 PM   
Harry Tuttle


Posts: 7993
Joined: 12/11/2005
From: Sometime in the future.
quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby


quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.


You don't have to think someone's cute to enjoy or appreciate their work. So Miller's a bit of a dick (and a right wing dick at that - who'd have thunk?), but he's still a bloody good writer-artist. Or he was. (His recent output isn't anywhere as good as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns - but whose is? It's fashionable to diss Miller these days, but to me that's like asking: "What's Michelangelo done since he painted that ceiling...?")



Probably nothing to rival The Dark Knight Strikes Again or All Star Batman and Robin...

< Message edited by Harry Tuttle -- 9/8/2012 8:00:48 PM >


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RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 7:59:59 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010

quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES

quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor


quote:

ORIGINAL: Rgirvan44

The Adam West show had more charm, humor, wit and fun than 90% of modern superhero movies.


It was also shit, whilst 90% of modern superhero movies are great.


How anyone can regard Adam Wests Batman as shit is anyone's guess.It was amazing,I mean look.

Genius.He makes Christian Bales Batman look like an amateur.


I appreciate Adam West's Batman a lot more now there are alternatives to choose from and he's no longer considered the definitive one by the general public. And how could you not love all that "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb" (slyly homaged by The Dark Knight Rises?) and "I wouldn't want to attract too much attention" stuff? Also, watching the old TV show now, my jaw frequently hits the floor at the sheer amount of (Wertham-baiting?) gay innuendo and political satire which clearly flew over my head when I was a kid. Genius.

I think it demonstrates just what an icon Bats is that he can be anything from Christian Bale to Adam West and still survive intact the same way Bond can be Connery and Moore. Incredible.

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Post #: 18
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 8:03:07 PM   
OPEN YOUR EYES

 

Posts: 4381
Joined: 5/2/2012

quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby


quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.


You don't have to think someone's cute to enjoy or appreciate their work. So Miller's a bit of a dick (and a right wing dick at that - who'd have thunk?), but he's still a bloody good writer-artist. Or he was. (His recent output isn't anywhere as good as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns - but whose is? It's fashionable to diss Miller these days, but to me that's like asking: "What's Michelangelo done since he painted that ceiling...?")



I know what Michaelangelo didn't do. Forget that he was writing a story about a pre-existing character that people already know and love, and then write godawful dialogue that sounds like it came from a completely different character. Not only that... a character from a completely different franchise! (In this case, Sin City). Oh, and making the character a genuine 100% flatout child abuser didn't help, either. Telling Robin to eat rats if he gets hungry? Really? Seriously... apart from those two stories and the early Sin City stuff, Miller's done nothing of worth. Jim Lee's artwork on All Star Batman & Robin however, is sublime. Shame it was wasted.


Hmm I'm indifferent to Jim Lees artwork to be honest.Its all very "cool" but it is somewhat shallow,which to be fair sits in well with the comic industries major distributors ie Marvel and DC.
And Jim Lee and Frank Miller combo was never going to workout,totally two different sides of the coin.

(in reply to AxlReznor)
Post #: 19
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 8:32:07 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010

quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby


quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.


You don't have to think someone's cute to enjoy or appreciate their work. So Miller's a bit of a dick (and a right wing dick at that - who'd have thunk?), but he's still a bloody good writer-artist. Or he was. (His recent output isn't anywhere as good as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns - but whose is? It's fashionable to diss Miller these days, but to me that's like asking: "What's Michelangelo done since he painted that ceiling...?")



I know what Michaelangelo didn't do. Forget that he was writing a story about a pre-existing character that people already know and love, and then write godawful dialogue that sounds like it came from a completely different character. Not only that... a character from a completely different franchise! (In this case, Sin City). Oh, and making the character a genuine 100% flatout child abuser didn't help, either. Telling Robin to eat rats if he gets hungry? Really? Seriously... apart from those two stories and the early Sin City stuff, Miller's done nothing of worth. Jim Lee's artwork on All Star Batman & Robin however, is sublime. Shame it was wasted.


What? Apart from two of the greatest comics ever? Wouldn't really matter then if everything else he did was shit. Which, you've gotta admit, is a bit of a sweeping generalisation.

(Thanks, BTW. I think you've just proved my point.)

(in reply to AxlReznor)
Post #: 20
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 8:35:55 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010
quote:

ORIGINAL: Harry Tuttle

quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby


quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.


You don't have to think someone's cute to enjoy or appreciate their work. So Miller's a bit of a dick (and a right wing dick at that - who'd have thunk?), but he's still a bloody good writer-artist. Or he was. (His recent output isn't anywhere as good as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns - but whose is? It's fashionable to diss Miller these days, but to me that's like asking: "What's Michelangelo done since he painted that ceiling...?")



Probably nothing to rival The Dark Knight Strikes Again or All Star Batman and Robin...


Ditto.

I see what you did there. The Dark Knight Strikes Again IS shit (and looks like he drew it with a fag end after a hard night's, er, blogging) but all that does is emphasise just how sublimely good The Dark Knight Returns and Year One really are. It also serves as a salutory warning to Christopher Nolan of the folly of belatedly returning to the well once too often and the wisdom of leaving perfection well alone...


< Message edited by chris kilby -- 9/8/2012 8:37:44 PM >

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Post #: 21
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 8:50:10 PM   
OPEN YOUR EYES

 

Posts: 4381
Joined: 5/2/2012
Been meaning to checkout The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
I've seen a few pages and you have to wonder what state Frank Miller was in.

(in reply to chris kilby)
Post #: 22
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 9/8/2012 8:52:49 PM   
AxlReznor

 

Posts: 1623
Joined: 2/12/2010
From: Great Britain
Although I see it's appeal to other people, I've never been a big fan of The Dark Knight Returns, either. Even then, his version of Batman was a cold-hearted brute with no positive characteristics whatsoever. The only thing that can make you root for him is to make all of the other characters even worse. Wouldn't have mattered so much if it was an original character, but he was working on one whose characteristics were already well-established. He was never the callous, violent, remorseless asshole that he is in The Dark Knight Returns. At first, I thought it was just that he was disillusioned by the time he quit and his experiences had changed him. Later stories however have shown that no... this is just what Frank Miller thinks Batman is like. At least in Year One he actually managed to get the characterisation right. That's not to say I don't appreciate it's importance, and influence on everything that has come since (though, some of the comics in the 90's show that the influence isn't necessarily a good thing)... just that I think he took far too many liberties with the character.

And even if they are two of the greatest comics ever, I still think you can get away with a 30 year career of crap just because you managed to sneak a couple of gems in there.

< Message edited by AxlReznor -- 9/8/2012 8:57:09 PM >

(in reply to chris kilby)
Post #: 23
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 10/8/2012 1:59:50 AM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010
quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES

Been meaning to checkout The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
I've seen a few pages and you have to wonder what state Frank Miller was in.


Well 9/11 happened right in the middle of it which led to him completely re-doing the last issue certainly. Miller was clearly shaken up by that - who wasn't? But I don't think he's ever got over the shock, hence Holy Terror, was it? Which I believe started out as a Batman V al Qaeda book till DC had a collective seizure over it.

I think a lot of Americans were radicalised and became a bit extreme after 9/11. Wasn't the late Ron Silver your classic Hollywood liberal till 9/11 drove him slightly to the right of Rush Limbaugh? Heck, to the right of Frank Miller!

PS: Just in case there's any doubt, I think Miller's politics are a joke. Not that it matters. I also don't think you have to agree with someone's politics to appreciate or enjoy their work either. I love James Ellroy as well even if his politics are suspect to say the least. Although it's hard to tell with the old Devil Dog. I went to one of his readings once and he derived so much pleasure from gleefully professing his support for Bush ("Clinton was a rapist," etc) that I suspected he had to be winding us up. This was in Glasgow, BTW. Not generally acknowledged as a hot bed of neo-conservatism!


< Message edited by chris kilby -- 10/8/2012 2:01:11 AM >

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Post #: 24
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 10/8/2012 2:25:14 AM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010
quote:

ORIGINAL: AxlReznor

Although I see it's appeal to other people, I've never been a big fan of The Dark Knight Returns, either. Even then, his version of Batman was a cold-hearted brute with no positive characteristics whatsoever. The only thing that can make you root for him is to make all of the other characters even worse. Wouldn't have mattered so much if it was an original character, but he was working on one whose characteristics were already well-established. He was never the callous, violent, remorseless asshole that he is in The Dark Knight Returns. At first, I thought it was just that he was disillusioned by the time he quit and his experiences had changed him. Later stories however have shown that no... this is just what Frank Miller thinks Batman is like. At least in Year One he actually managed to get the characterisation right. That's not to say I don't appreciate it's importance, and influence on everything that has come since (though, some of the comics in the 90's show that the influence isn't necessarily a good thing)... just that I think he took far too many liberties with the character.



I see what you're saying.

But like The Dark Knight Rises, I don't think it's anywhere near as clear cut as that. A lot of what you say could just as easily apply to Dirty Harry - another morally complex tale about an overtly fascistic cop only marginally less psychotic than the crazy he's after which critics and film historians still furiously debate over whether the filmmakers endorsed his extreme actions or not. Just as many are currently debating the politics of The Dark Knight Rises - myself included.

Dirty Harry is a deeply ambiguous if not ambivalent film. I think it's part of the reason it has endured. And regardless of its politics, its bloody good too, which always helps. I think the same can be said of The Dark Knight Returns which, yes, like Watchmen, probably IS overrated - it's Sturgeon's Law all over again which doubly applies to comics!

Miller was a lot younger then, remember, and just cos The Dark Knight is a fascist assh*le (what, for a change?) it doesn't necessarily mean Miller endorsed that. Look how badly Reagan (and his flying poodle) comes out of The Dark Knight Returns. There are a lot of pops at Reagan's illegal wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. As well as the then-emerging right wing, Murdoch news media which has contributed so much to civilised political discourse in the US. It's why we all love it so...

And don't forget that Frank Miller's original script for Robocop 2 was about the war between the haves and the have-nots, anticipating The Dark Knight Rises by almost 25 years. (A lot of it, watered down for kiddie consumption, ended up in the child-friendly Robocop 3.) It's really not all that unusual for young radicals to get more conservative as they get older - which is why I've been a wishy-washy liberal all my life. Miller and Moore used to have quite a lot in common, I think. Maybe less so now...


quote:

And even if they are two of the greatest comics ever, I still think you can get away with a 30 year career of crap just because you managed to sneak a couple of gems in there.


I think that's more than a little unfair. What about Ronin? Sin City? Give Me Liberty? Elektra Lives? And Miller's favourite character - Daredevil? I would argue that Born Again (also drawn by David Mazuccheli) is his finest work - yes, even better than Batman: Year One. And in just a couple of pages he also writes THE definitive Captain America - show off! I'm delighted to hear that Born Again is to be the basis of the Daredevil re-boot. I just hope it isn't FUBAR. The Man Without Fear's pretty good too. Daredevil: Year One, basically, you don't even see him in the costume till the final page. And it has one of the best kiss-off lines ever!

But even if your unduly harsh assessment was true, what a couple of gems! Not many people get to revolutionise an industry and an art form. And those two gems were so good, 25 years later, they've only gone on to inspire what some, including EMPIRE, are calling one of the greatest trilogies of all time. Not a bad showing for 30 years of crap!

< Message edited by chris kilby -- 10/8/2012 2:41:34 AM >

(in reply to AxlReznor)
Post #: 25
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 10/8/2012 6:55:54 PM   
stephcampbell

 

Posts: 1
Joined: 3/6/2012
Speaking as a teenager, I love both Adam West's batman and Christian Bale's. Thats the great thing about the nature of Super-Heroes, they can be humourous, or realistic, or angsty. I think the Dark Knight trilogy is a masterpeice, and is a great peice of modern cinema. However so is the Avengers, which is created from a totally different angle. Maybe sometimes it doesn't work, but people are obviously impressed right now, as Super-Hero films are becoming very poular again.

(in reply to chris kilby)
Post #: 26
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 11/8/2012 3:10:34 AM   
Darth Marenghi

 

Posts: 3216
Joined: 10/10/2010
From: Manchester
Nice opening post CK - it's been a while since I've seen such a delightfully wordy thread starter in this subforum.

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Post #: 27
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 11/8/2012 3:35:20 AM   
MB2


Posts: 325
Joined: 16/6/2009

quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby


quote:

ORIGINAL: OPEN YOUR EYES


quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby

What? As a person?


Yes.
I know he had that 'cough' issue on his blog,but in general before that I think he has also had some issues.


You don't have to think someone's cute to enjoy or appreciate their work. So Miller's a bit of a dick (and a right wing dick at that - who'd have thunk?), but he's still a bloody good writer-artist. Or he was. (His recent output isn't anywhere as good as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns - but whose is? It's fashionable to diss Miller these days, but to me that's like asking: "What's Michelangelo done since he painted that ceiling...?")



Yeah, I think anyone surprised by his viewpoint has never read Dark Knight Returns, it's not a shock, his view of liberals in the media is somewhat distorted.

_____________________________

Roxy: That's who we should kill next.
Frank: A fictitious character?
Roxy: No. Diablo Cody. Fuck her for writing that movie, she's the only stripper who suffers from too much self esteem.

(in reply to chris kilby)
Post #: 28
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 12/8/2012 3:10:06 PM   
rich


Posts: 5037
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Neo Kobe
The superhero genre has changed very little in the last decade since the success of X-Men. Arguably few things have significantly improved since Superman: The Movie, they've just found new and better ways to sell it. The ones that were released this year may have had a higher caliber than the ones before it in 2011, but I don't see anything maturing in the kind of things they are doing with them on screen.

< Message edited by rich -- 12/8/2012 3:12:16 PM >


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Meanwhile...

(in reply to MB2)
Post #: 29
RE: Has The Super-Hero Genre Come of Age? - 12/8/2012 7:03:32 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1273
Joined: 31/3/2010
Fair enough. (I agree with you about Superman - along with The Dark Knight Trilogy, it remains the defining film of its type.) But as a genre, would you say the super-hero movie is here to stay?

(in reply to rich)
Post #: 30
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