This weekend saw the release of Josh Trank's Fantastic Four, starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell. Since its opening, the film has been panned by critics and fans alike, scoring a pathetic 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some even claim it's the worst superhero movie ever made. When I went to see this film, I had heard what everyone was saying and I was ready for the worst. As I was leaving the theater, I realized something: it wasn't that bad. In fact, I thought it was actually good. With this realization in mind, I wondered to myself why this movie was so poorly received. Then I noticed that most superhero movies are put through such harsh judgement. Why is this particular genre subject to such criticism? And more importantly, what do we want from these movies?
Adaptations are always a tricky subject. The director has to find some sort of balance between the source materiel and his own interpretation. Too much in either direction could be disastrous. One of the few adaptations that managed get it right was the Harry Potter series.
The Harry Potter franchise was adored by fans and critics alike, and so many films have tried to duplicate its success (Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent). With books, each individual views the story a certain way. So when the film adaptation comes out, it often disappoints them because it's not how the pictured it in their minds. Maybe Harry Potter used some real magic, but it got this right and other franchises just haven't been able to keep up.
Now, comic books are a different beast entirely. We have visual references for the characters and the environment, so it should be easier to make a film that will please fans, right? Right? The problem with comic book movies is that you can't be too faithful to the source material, or else you'll end up with something cheesy like...
And then, you can't stray too far from the source material, or else you'll end up with angry fanboys.
The problem with the new Fantastic Four reboot was the fact that it branded itself as a superhero movie, and it wasn't. It was more of a science fiction thriller. People didn't get what they came into the theater expecting to see. Which leads me to my next point.
JUST BECAUSE IT'S DIFFERENT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S BAD
Fantastic Four was not remotely close to it's comic book origins, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Now of course the film had problems, but not nearly enough to deserve a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. The hate comes from people who expected a different movie. Let's look at Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World went from being almost word for word with the original books to almost a completely different story (this was because the movie was being made at the same time as books 4-6, with the movie being finished first). By the laws of movie adaptations, it should be hated. Yet, both the books and the movie are praised by the fans that know them, despite being different from each other. You may ask, "How can this be? If the original books were so good, why would anyone enjoy a non-faithful adaptation?" The answer is surprisingly simple: it's a good movie.
That's what I believe the main problem is. People are so attached to what they already know and love, that they want it fairly represented. That's not a bad thing, it shows that you really care about it. But just because it's different, doesn't mean it's bad. Filmmakers don't want to do something someone else has already done. They want to make it their own. I believe they should be faithful to the material they're taking from, but we also need to try to look at movies for how they are, not what their based off of.
Do you agree with me? Or do you want to burn me at the stake for making such statements? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear your opinions.