John Gholson is a life-long Avengers fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. You can read his Marvel Studios Countdown here at Movies.com every other week.
If you look at the films that Marvel has released as a studio, they’ve locked themselves into a tidy, crowd-pleasing “house style” that works for them. Individual directors may add little touches here and there, but they’re all still following the successful template created by Jon Favreau for Iron Man (arguably created by Sam Raimi for the Spider-Man films, but those were outside of Marvel’s control). The heroes are all handsome and slyly funny, there are light touches of romance, big moments of safe action, and the villains are defeated with an FX-driven final battle. There’s a visual sameness to them, and certainly a sameness in tone, since they all aim for the same box office goal.
I’m not defending the quality of Sony’s abysmal Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but it’s interesting that the properties held outside of Marvel Studios are still being considered on their own terms. Sony’s GR:SOV looks like a completely different film than Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man. Even if you look at Fox’s Marvel properties, their take on the X-Men films was different than their approach to Daredevil or their fledgling Fantastic Four franchise. The quality is up and down across the board, but the films are different from each other.
What got me thinking about this was the upcoming release of The Dark Knight Rises, and I started wondering if Marvel has a “Batman,” a character they could use to tell a more adult-oriented crime drama, something with a different flavor than what they are currently producing. Of course, the first character who came to mind was Daredevil, but he’s not under Marvel’s control right now. Could they take one of their superheroes and tell a very non-Marvel studios story, one with big thematic ideas driving the plot, one more rooted in the real-world with more subtle touches of sci-fi/fantasy? What’s more -- would they even want to?
Because why fix what’s not broke, right? If Marvel’s house style is working for them, why change it? They’ve discussed a few projects (most notably Dr. Strange) that would benefit greatly from a more unique approach, but as long as it’s working for them, they have no motivation to produce different types of movies for different types of characters. My fear as a fan is that this will eventually backfire, leading people to expect a certain thing every time, and either turning fans off when they break the mold or burning fans out with the same tone for every film.
Should Marvel stay the course forever or attempt a film with an established superhero that’s more hard-edged and adult?
Marvel Studio News!
-- You might not have been able to hear the news over the cries and moans of the mourners of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (the second season of the popular TV show is its last), but Marvel isn’t done making Avengers cartoons. They’re adding Avengers Assemble and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. to Marvel’s 2013 animated series line-up. Avengers Assemble stars a roster similar to the one featured in the smash hit film (adding Falcon as the “new guy” character), while the new Hulk cartoon features the classic green Hulk teaming with other “Hulks” like Skaar, She-Hulk, and Red Hulk for weekly adventures. (TV Guide)
-- Directors Joe and Anthony Russo (You, Me, and Dupree, TV’s Community) were named as the helmers of Captain America 2 (slated for 2014). Must have been some pitch, because there’s nothing on their current resume that would make me say “yes, those guys.” I’ll assume they displayed a real passion for the character and an ability to work on a tight schedule for peanuts. While I won’t say I’m worried about Cap 2, this is a highly unusual choice on Marvel’s part. (Vulture)
-- Hot Toys makes incredible toys for high-dollar collectors. I’ve been covering their releases for a few years now, and the quality of their collectibles speaks for itself. Maybe someday, I can actually afford one! Until then, I’ll just browse the pics of their new, incredibly lifelike Black Widow Avengers figure. The $189.99 toy releases this December.
-- The game may be called Avengers: Battle for Earth, but the clip for the game, one that shows Wolverine fighting Venom and Storm taking on Magneto, is not very Avengers-centric. Really, it’s just a Marvel Universe fighting game for Wii-U and X-Box 360, but that Avengers license is too hot not to slap on the cover. The game hits just in time to miss the Holiday shopping season -- December 31, 2012. (Superhero Hype)