Must Haves of Any Cape Movie: Part 2

I heard someone say recently that superhero movies should cut some of those cliche action scenes in which the characters do stuff like throw cars at each other and engage in other assorted mayhem.

My reaction? Wrong! While, in some cases, action scenes are gratuitous, more often than not, they add to our understanding of the super's story. I think I'll start compiling some rules that future filmmakers can utilize to make their cape films true to the genre's conventions.

Here's one of my rules (as of now) of cape movies: "At a minimum, twice during the course of the film, each super powered character, whether hero or villain, must display his or her unique ability, preferably in an action set piece."

An example of this rule is perfectly illustrated in The Incredible Hulk (2008). No less than three times, we see Dr. Banner transform into his monster persona, and wreak destruction on a variety of buildings, vehicles, and people. These scenes should not be regarded as cliche. On the contrary, they are integral, even indispensable, in order to demonstrate the unpredictable rage and potential danger of the Hulk.

Here are a few other examples that come immediately to mind- In X2 (2003), we must see Nightcrawler 'port or hang by his tail, in Iron Man (2008) Tony Stark has to blast someone with his repulsors, and in Superman Returns (2006), Supes must fry something with his heat vision. Cliche? - no, vital character traits that distinguish the super from the ordinary hero.

Must Haves of Any Cape Movie: Part 1

I've heard more than one person say all those stupid costumes are ruining superhero movies. I couldn't disagree more. Personally, I feel cheated when a character is given some "updated" duds that bear little resemblance to the best known version of his costume. Thankfully, this hasn't occurred much in the recent Marvel and DC movies- the closest example I can think of is the X-Men trilogy in which black leather replaced yellow and blue spandex.

To me, the costume is a vital element in any superhero movie. Replace the costume with street clothes, and you still have an action adventure character, but not a superhero.

I try to limit my focus to just movies, but I'll make an exception, and mention the TV show Heroes. The lack of any type of costumes is one of my main gripes with the show.

I'd like Heroes a lot more if the characters had some form of costumes (or uniforms, if you prefer) and existed in a universe that completely accepted that fact. Seeing somebody fly while wearing a three piece suit, or a chick in jeans and a t-shirt shooting energy blasts from her hands, just doesn't do it for me. It's like the creators of the show took all of the cool concepts from 70 years of superhero comics, except they rejected the one that immediately identifies a hero as being super.

Besides not being true to the superhero mythos, omitting costumes is a marketing blunder. What 11 or 12 year old wants an action figure, t-shirt, or lunch box featuring a bunch of normal-looking people? Give the heroes some costumes that have some sort of functional use in relation to their power, make them government sponsored operatives, a la "The Initiative", fighting a world-wide terrorist organization, and I'll start watching.

Rorschach's Watchmen Review

Thursday, March 12, 8:10pm.

Went to see movie Watchmen for second time. Cold rain turned parking lot of theatre into swirling toilet, filled with excrement of suburbia. Soon it will overflow and wash away remnants of broken society. Teenagers huddle in corners, drinking illegally obtained alcohol. Memorize faces and go inside. Deal with them later.

Movie starts. I try to find flaws in plot, characters, and story structure. Pay close attention but none are detected. Actors portray Watchmen like real people, not like stupid comic book heroes of other movies. Dialogue difficult to understand sometimes. Many big words are used. Must listen carefully. Dr. Manhattan's worldview over heads of illiterates in audience. Some grow restless, like rats waiting for death in laboratory.

Even sex and violence filmed in artful way. Hard to watch Comedian assault Miss Jupiter, even though a whore. Nudity was important to story. Showed masked heroes have desires and weaknesses like normal people. Had feelings for Dr. Manhattan's lady friend. Her beauty enough to make me take off face. Must be getting old and soft. Letting liberal sensibilities of sick, disease-ridden culture creep in.

Movie ends. Audience of sheep wants happy ever after ending. Brains not used to challenge. Too many ideas for animals grown fat and lazy, grazing on entertainment detritus of crumbling civilisation. Leave theatre with new perspective on comic book. Movie make me appreciate relationships between Watchmen, especially Nite Owl and myself. Dan only friend I ever had. Only realized after seeing movie.

Rorschach's opinions perfectly sum up my own. Couldn't have said it better.

Watchmen

While not a complete review, here are more thoughts. Like everybody else, I've been waiting for this movie and went in the theatre hoping for the best. But, I'm not going to blindly describe the movie as "Awesome!" if it doesn't deserve the praise.

Having said that, I honestly think the makers of this movie accomplished a near impossible task. They took a dense, layered, 22 year old novel and presented a moving, thought-provoking story with finely drawn characters in a daring way. They created a work that can appeal to newcomers to the Watchmen universe and satisfy the rabid fans.

The screenplay was intelligent, the characters' back stories were detailed without bogging down the story and most importantly, it was emotionally compelling. I have quibbles, and nits to pick, but they're so small it would be like complaining about dust specks on the Mona Lisa. Many more thoughts to come.

First Thoughts on Watchmen

The hotspot at which I'm writing this is about to close, so I have to be brief. Saw the movie Sunday night. I plan to post several brief posts with my thoughts instead of tackling it in one. BUT- I can sum up my initial thoughts this way: If you chose 10 of the greatest directors and gave each of them $200 million to play with, I don't think any of them could have filmed a better version than this one. Zack Snyder deserves some props!