OK, everybody get ready to take a good, long breath, 'cause this is going to be one mother of a blog. Also, this blog is not for everyone, because it is based, of course, on my own opinions, so if you're not into reading something that is objective and not being paid for, then I suggest you go back to your corporate sponsors and check your little Twitter account, 'cause I don't play that game. It is well known, nay, DOCUMENTED, that in the Marvel Universe there is nobody that exists except those in the Marvel Universe, except perhaps, the neighboring DC Universe or the Disney Universe, both in Orlando, Anaheim and chiefly reigning with a tight iron mouse fist in Burbank. And these days, I've seen Mickey Mouse walking around with Thor's hammer quite a bit. But I digress...
Ever since the first X-Men movie hit the big screen, Marvel has become a bigger and bigger competitor with lessor movie studios and comic publishers, seeming to return to their former dictatorship as one of the great movie-making superpowers in Hollywood. (Ok, I know how that sounded, but you've gotta cut me some leeway on that one. You can still groan about it, so no harm, no foul, 'k?) But the thing is, that in the near twenty years since, Marvel has become bigger and bigger, until it seems that they may very well be basing their next great success on something that might actually be TOO BIG, even for the combined egos of Marvel and its writers. And what I'm afraid of is what the effect might be IF this next great success does not pan out the way they hope it will.
This is the part where you ask, "What the hell is this guy talking about?!" It's ok, I've had to think about it myself numerous times.
WHAT I am talking about is the big gamble that's going to be taken on the next two Avengers movies, "The Infinity War", which is said to be boasting a cast of no less than 67 characters from the pages of Marvel Comics. There's a loose rumor that's been said, but no confirming right now, that Ghost Rider is hinted at being in one of the two movies at some point. So I'm like, "What a minute! Is this real?" Yipe! The darkest Marvel hero(or anti-hero?) in an Avengers movie? In the midst of a cast of 67 A-list characters??? Not that the Rider himself isn't on the A-list, but to have to be in the middle of such a major cast? HOW is Marvel going to pull this off successfully? And that's only one question. I'm only glad I don't believe in going to opening-night premieres, that way I can wait for it to come out on dvd, so I can go to the bathroom as many times as I want. The Fantastic Four is also said to be in the "Infinity War" movies, but I kind of cringe now, since I watched the remake with the new, younger, more obnoxious cast. I never did like that. At the moment, for now, the rumor of both the Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider being in both "Infinity" movies is unofficial, but it would be something else to see them.
It does sort of beg the question, is Marvel taking things too far with their recent efforts? I understand that the big money has been made, and that's great, but what about the chance that even the most hard-core fan(myself being one of them) could actually be burned out at some point? I admit it wouldn't be easy to do, but with everything Marvel and DC that's been out in the past twenty years, I may find myself getting bored with it in the close future. And that's strange for me to say, but it's possible. And I am a die-hard movie lover, so you know, that's saying something.
What's amazing is the stunning run of success that's come with the Marvel movies that emerged over the years. I don't really want to remember this, personally, but I remember when Marvel Comics originally had movies made for tv, but the problem was, back then, was the fact that nobody at Marvel had any imagination about how to shoot or plan a movie. But keep this one fact in mind, it was the mid-1970's, and Marvel Comics was too busy being, well, a comic book publisher. Not to say anything against them for that, nor to try to take anything away from them, but they were writers, not movie studio executives. And for the most part, Hollywood wanted nothing to do with Marvel Comics trying to make movies. Hollywood wanted to make movies that were plausible, or what was it somebody said I heard recently...."bankable." They wanted Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Roy Schieder, not those other guys who were willing to dress up in superhero-themed costumes. Nope, Hollywood wanted nothing to do with that. Man, how the times have changed!! :)
Now you not only have actors who are willing to dress up as superheroes, but there are plenty of fans---not to mention plenty of women---who are willing to see Hugh Jackman or Vin Diesel in action-packed movies. Jackman cast as Wolverine, which seems to be his signature character; and Diesel, whose signature character is the infamous Richard B. Riddick in the movies that bear and share his name. Of course, it's been a lifetime since the '70's (thank God!!) and Hollywood has become more forgiving toward the idea of superhero movies. And the cash cow of the century seems to be wearing a red cape rather than dark sunglasses and steering away from what was once so unpopular. And Marvel has not only enjoyed great success in the movies, but also on tv, which they first enjoyed bringing classic shows based on the Incredible Hulk, which starred Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner, and Lou Ferrigno as the Green Goliath himself. Yes, many fans actually called him that in those days. There was a group of Saturday morning cartoons back then; Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, DC's Super Friends, the Fantastic Four, and maybe one or two others. But I guess someone could say that those were baby steps for something bigger that was coming, just not at that time would it really be fruitful for them.
In 2003, Marvel released the movie "Hulk", which seemed to be their way of announcing an intent to get into mainstream Hollywood, and they thought if this could work and be successful, then they could go forward. Luckily, the movie was a big hit, and everybody got to go home happy, especially its stars and the producers of the movie, which included Stan Lee among them. It proved that superhero movies could have a place in Hollywood and not just in fanboys' basements, which kinda sounds like a dirty joke now that I think about it, but I must again digress. To each their own....obviously. ;) Too bad 1989's "The Punisher" was so bad, it could have been remarked as a sign of intent, but it was instead just a sign of what not to make into a movie. At least, at that time, and with Dolph Lundgren starring in anything is never going to be taken seriously.
It seemed that Marvel wouldn't get their chance at being taken seriously until the first of the "Blade" movies came out, starring Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson in 1998. Even though it had some mixed reviews, it was successful enough to get Marvel's foot in the door and be recognized as more than just a comic book publisher.
In 2000, "X-Men" helped them hit the jackpot, and the next thing they knew Marvel were being adored and no longer being considered by Hollywood as "kiddy comic book publishers". Especially if you consider the actors involved; Ian McKellen as Magneto, Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Halle Berry as Storm, Famke Jansen as Jean Grey, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique(not that I didn't look at her obsessively or anything...hehehe!) and how many others. And women everywhere were forever introduced to their favorite guilty pleasure....Hugh Jackman with his wife-beater shirt. Strange how a simple garment can make so many girls swoon, right? hahaha! With thanks to the movies "X-Men", "Spider-Man"(this one was even nominated for two Oscars. Say whaaat?!), "Fantastic Four", "Hulk" and "Blade", Hollywood realized it was time to come out and find their inner fanboy, and let Marvel into the mainstream.
Even though there was great success with previous superhero movies, it still seemed as though Hollywood was holding its breath for Marvel to fizzle out and go back to New York, as if their plans were just a passing phase. But when one of their legendary characters, the legendary darkest of the dark superheroes..."Ghost Rider" was going to be made, Nicolas Cage wanted to play Johnny Blaze, the cursed motorcycle stunt rider. And with the budget that was spent on it, Nicolas Cage and Sam Elliott both got to enjoy the superhero treatment to great effect. And as a result, "Ghost Rider" was one of the big hits of the year.
Of course, there's a lot of speculation that Ben Affleck's overpaid ego might actually be the thing that could do real harm to the movie "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice", which makes me dread the idea of the next movie to follow it, the already widely debated and talked about "Justice League". Affleck might actually derail the promise of a successful sequel. Come on, fans, face it: Ben Affleck used to be a good actor, but now he's little more than a Hollywood movie-star. I know what you're asking at this point; what is the difference between an actor and a movie-star? Let me help you understand it the way I do. An actor is someone who acts for a living(naturally!) and gives good performances, but is still an actor. He knows he has limitations, and needs to work on them, so he does. A movie-star is someone who used to be an actor, but sadly has had too much success in his career, and now believes he has no areas in his life that he needs to work on, especially where his "craft" is concerned. An actor acknowledges he is just an actor who is paid to do a good job and give the best performance he can. A movie-star doesn't want or need any reminding that he is just an actor, he comes to believe--through the vice of being given way too much money for the worst movies ever made, and because he reaches the position in Hollywood--that he can do whatever he wants. So his sense of humility is completely shot to hell, the same as a guy named Ben Affleck, and his attitude that he doesn't need to act, he just comes into a character the same way he does when he enters a bar, that the customer is always right. Especially when his name is Ben Affleck. But that's not the worst of my gripe, in regard to the Marvel movies.
I also don't want you to think I'm knocking them just because I can. I'm also a fan of the movies, and have been for years. But I also remember when Marvel very nearly went bankrupt for having such huge ambitions with their comics, and what scares me is that history might actually repeat itself, only this time it's hard to say that IF it does, will Marvel be able to recover at all? Let's not forget how dismal Marvel's dismal big-screen adaptation of "Ant-Man" went, no matter what the fans might think of it. I was hoping it wouldn't be quite so stupid, and instead of a cheapened "handing down the torch" kind of thing, it would actually be an origin story, which would have been much better. Michael Douglas was completely wasted, even though he was cast as the original Ant-Man. And then there was Janet Van Dyne, who should have been more of a central character than a cheerleader who knew how to punch somebody. "Ant-Man" was much more of a ghetto comedy than it was a superhero movie, and it was insulting to long-time fans. I mean, seriously, Paul Rudd, playing Ant-Man? The biggest jerk playing the world's smallest superhero? WTF?! Paul Rudd only has one style of acting, and that is as someone who doesn't know what the hell he's doing, which is in every movie he's ever been in. He has a bigger look of blankness and confusion on his face than Keanu ("Whoa!") Reeves. And then there's the fact that Spider-Man is joining the Avengers (sort of) in the new Captain America movie. Am I the only one who actually groaned and thought to themselves "Oh, give me a fucking break!" when Spidey was seen in the trailer for "Civil War"?? I'm telling you, this many superheroes in one movie, and then to be thrown into the soup together for the "Avengers Infinity War" movies is just way too much! 68, count 'em, SIXTY-EIGHT superheroes in two monolithic superhero movies! How are we exactly supposed to keep track of everybody on the field WITHOUT a sports program? What I'm afraid of is this has all the ingredients of a financial disaster for Marvel as well as Disney, even though Disney basically owns everything that's Marvel, anyway. As it is, I'm getting admittedly close to burning out on these movies, and they haven't even been in the stupid theater yet! Of course, we have what could be called the beginning of the end of the Avengers, "Captain America: Civil War", which opens on May 6th. There's also "X-Men: Apocalypse", which opens on Memorial Day Weekend, on May 27th, 2016. This is going to be somewhat bittersweet, seeing as how it's going to be one of the last times we'll be seeing Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine. Personally I'm so used to seeing him as Logan, it'll be weird to see anyone else play him in the future.
Back to *ugh!* Spider-Man, I am not looking forward to seeing him ever again. With the immense success of his original trilogy, and half of another one, I really don't care if I ever see anything of Spider-Man in another movie ever again. So, a question I can't help but ask is are they really going to make Spider-Man a permanent part of the Avengers? And if so, exactly HOW is this going to affect the team dynamic? Although after "Civil War", the team dynamic is going to be seriously screwed around with anyway, so who knows? What killed my former fave status of the old wall-crawler was the constant exposure of the movies, one right after the other. I got so sick of those damn movies, and then there was the so-called reboot, that I literally don't ever want to see anything with him in it. But after it's all said and done, I guess it's true enough that the movies will be enjoyed and send droves of fans and others to the theaters to see them, no matter how long or how exaggerated they might be. And whether or not Marvel will self-destruct again after all these years will just have to wait to be seen. And what will happen after "Captain America: Civil War", "Avengers: Infinity War" and "X-Men: Apocalypse" can only be left for a ton of speculation, so as to see what pieces will be left to pick up. Maybe "Wolverine 3" will give us the idea when it comes out. :)