Friday, March 9, 2007

THOUGHTS: On Superheroes

It’s curious that news of the gear shifting on both The Flash and Wonder Woman film projects came nearly simultaneously.
The writer/directors who had been steering both projects are now off them (David Goyer and Joss Whedon, respectively), and for pretty much the same reasons, director and studio did not see eye-to-eye on the treatment and approach to the character in question.
Whedon: “We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work.”
Goyer: “The God's honest truth is that WB and myself simply couldn't agree on what would make for a cool Flash film.”

You gotta wonder, when a studio shoots down projects from established names like Goyer (who wrote the screenplays for Dark City, Batman Begins, and the Blade films) and Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly), just what exactly is the studio’s vision of the character? How different can it be from that of people who are clearly entrenched in genre material? It isn’t like these are rank neophytes, after all.
On the one hand, I can appreciate the caution Warner Brothers and DC are taking with their properties (better taking their time to get it right, rather than Marvel’s trigger-happy film-everything-we-can-now attitude, which has given rise to fiascos like Elektra and Daredevil and Fantastic Four).

Sometimes though, you wonder at a studio’s “vision.” I mean, Batman Forever was bad enough, but whoever greenlit Batman and Robin should be shot.
And this isn’t even about a disgruntled fan: I never got into Buffy or any of Whedon’s other shows, and Goyer is a hit-and-miss affair for me (I love his scripts for Dark City, Batman Begins, and Blade II, but Blade and Blade: Trinity—which he also directed—blew, big time).

This is about getting it right, about being faithful to the source material and treating the character (and by extension, the character’s creators) with respect.
You have to ask yourself, is the studio really concerned with getting it right, or with coming up with a movie that’s designed and calculated to make money?
The thing is, they need to take chances too, and not just stick to what’s been tried and tested and been done to death.

Studios also need to keep the fans in mind, the section of the audience that tends to come back to a film again and again, if it’s done right. (And there’s a lot of revenue that’s made up of repeat viewings.) Which is not to say they should slavishly stick to the source material either, but rather, make a proper translation of said material onto film, retaining and tweaking whatever elements of the character’s mythos works best on the big screen.

In the end though, the proof’s in the proverbial pudding. There is no colour by numbers approach to film adaptations of comic book material (and there shouldn’t be). There is, however, instinct, creativity, and a genuine love and passion for the genre.
So let’s all hope Warner Brothers knows what it’s doing…

(Originally posted 020807)

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