It's been over a year since that Fantastic Four reboot that only two people (including me) liked. Who'd have thought that the simple act of changing a character's ethnicity would kill a movie before the on-set scandals could finish the job (I'm not saying that the reason the movie tanked was because people are racist, but I am saying that the movie was pretty dead the second the cast was announced)? Before you crucify me for liking the movie, I just want to say I'm not here to review it or defend it. I hope I get that opportunity some day, (at least I only have to wait until 2022 at the most).
But it has got me thinking.
I remember, back in the forgotten window of time that was 2015, thinking to myself: "Now that all that controversy was over, at least we'll never have an a scandal like that again."
Oh boy, was I wrong.
Who'd have thought rebooting a beloved '80s movie would yadda-yadda-yadda you get the idea.
My point is that I completely understood why fans were initially pissed. A beloved franchise getting rebooted in a manner that was going to completely ignore previously established canon while still retaining moments from the original in a different context is not something an audience can get behind easily (see every remake ever).
When the trailers came out (and they looked as bad as they did) it seemed like the fans were justified in their trepidation towards this new movie, especially when you factor in the allegedly shifty behavior from Sony involving deleting comments to try and make the hatred towards the movie sexually-oriented (I have no evidence to confirm nor deny these allegations).
But here's the thing: At some point, the hate became too much. It was exhausting to go on the internet and see thousands of comments and videos pointing out that this movie was going to bomb. You literally could not avoid it even if you tried. How many times can you point that out before even you get tired of hearing it?
Then the movie actually came out and responses were mixed. Some liked the movie (also including me), some despised it with every fiber of their being, but I think most people just ignored it. It wasn't a movie anyone was determined to see, so they didn't see it.
Life then went on.
My question is: "What did all that intense projected hatred achieve?" There won't be a Ghostbusters 2 because people didn't see the movie, but did people announcing loud and clear that they wouldn't see the movie really affect ticket sales that much? Were people influenced by how over-the-top the backlash got, or were they already not going to see the movie because they weren't interested?
Regardless of what the answer is, here is why I think such a negative reaction to a film while it's still in production is unnecessary and even counter-productive.
1. You Give Them The Ammunition
For those of you that are unaware, Sony apparently took it upon themselves to scour the negative comments for the new Ghostbusters and delete the rational comments in order to make the fan-base look like it was a hive-mind of rabid misogyny.
Now, once again, I have no proof as to whether this is true or not (and I'm not looking to prove or disprove it), but my point is this: Isn't there inherently a problem if there are enough irrational comments to the point where they could look like a majority to the layman?
Imagine if the inverse happened: What if Sony announced their new cast and everyone just kinda shrugged and went about their day? If you didn't want the movie to succeed, you don't need to announce it to the world every few seconds — just don't see the movie. If people agreed with you that the movie was going to be the worst thing since sliced Hitler, then they would've done the same thing. The movie still would've tanked, but there wouldn't have been that escalation that led to both the SJWs and the fans flinging excrement at each other while everyone else just gave a collective groan.
Sure, you could argue "But the SJWs would just call us sexist anyway!" but then that goes back to the fact there was a minority in your group that actually were sexist, hence the ability for Sony to fabricate evidence that made them look like the majority. If there was radio silence from you guys, what would Sony have to use against you in the first place? The movie would've been released as planned, nobody would've seen it, the movie would've bombed, and you would have avoided all those exhausting arguments.
Let's talk about the reviews:
So, Ghostbusters came out and it actually got decent reviews, ending up with more recommends than movies like Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne. Now, there are two separate camps as to why this is: 1) It was a better movie than those listed above (my personal opinion) or 2) Sony paid critics off, which to me sounds as ridiculous as Marvel paying off critics to hate DC movies, but whatever. This is the internet, anything is possible.
Let's entertain the notion that Sony paid off critics to like the movie. Now, why would they do that? Because they thought it was going to bomb. Well, why would they possibly think the movie was going to bomb? What possibly tipped them off that their million-dollar blockbuster was potentially going to bomb?
Now you see where I'm getting at, which brings me to my next point:
2. You Affect The Productions (And Not In A Good Way)
It's kind of a cliche, isn't it? You hear about a movie that sucked, only to find out that it could have been better, except that test-audiences didn't like a certain, seemingly trivial aspect, causing the studio to radically change it. I mean, there are exceptions. Final Destination originally had an absolutely terrible melodramatic ending before the studio changed it because test audiences were like "What the hell is this shit?" But the majority of times, it just leaves you longing for what could have been.
The thing with test-screenings is that the film is pretty much finished before being tinkered with.
Nowadays, studios have so much access to what the collective consciousness is, that they're too afraid to take risks in order to challenge people. This is what I admire about Marvel. I don't think their films are revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, but they'll take risky moves like changing the Mandarin's story and casting actresses of a different ethnicity to those that were in the comics. When fans react strongly against these creative decisions, Marvel just ignores them. They might make a statement that they stand behind said decision, or they might just throw in a little one-shot to retroactively appease the fans, but they're not going to try and blow it out of proportion. They're just gonna finish their movie and release it. Their response is entirely rational.
Then you've got some of the other studios.
We brought up Sony earlier. What was their reaction to the consensus that people were disliking the new movie because it shared no ties to the original? Why, mandated cameos as a last ditch effort to try and pander to a disinterested group by blackmailing the previous cast, of course! It doesn't take a PR genius to tell you how that's going to fail. Paul Feig obviously didn't want the old cast to play their previous characters, so it's not going to be satisfying for the demographic that don't even want to watch your film anyway, and the old cast clearly don't want to be there, so each of their scenes are going to collectively clunk.
DC is a bit of a black sheep to this concept, given that the criticisms for their films tend to emerge from after the film has been released as opposed to before, but there is still an example of this in effect. Think about Jared Leto's Joker and how he was built up and hyped in the marketing for Suicide Squad, only to have about as much screen-time as Bill Murray in the new Ghostbusters. Now, why would they film so many scenes with Jared Leto's Joker only to cut them out? My guess is that it has something to do with the internet collectively not receiving Joker's new look particularly well. Now, I could be wrong about that, and I have no definitive evidence once again, but if you can think of a better reason, feel free to let me know.
But the nadir of overreactions is Fox. I mean, I don't necessarily blame them, considering that literally every piece of information that was released about their Fantastic Four reboot was met with unparalleled amounts of venom from the fans, but Fox handled the situation about as well as Galactus handles a planet he's minutes from consuming. "The fans want a lighter, pulpier superhero film!" "But, that's literally not what we've been making at all" "I don't care! Make it happen!" "Y-y-yessir" "Oh, and do it with even less of a budget to the point where three entire action scenes are going to have to be cut because we've lost all confidence in this entire production because the internet said so". Is it any wonder that Josh Trank went nuts on the set? He was literally being asked to take his own film and massacre it into something that it was never going to be, basically because a vocal majority on the internet was denouncing his film while knowing very little about it.
Which brings me to my next point...
3) Sometimes, you have no idea what you're talking about.
Whenever something major in comics is announced, experts (on this site, no less) gather to try and extrapolate on how this will affect the movie. There are many interesting articles on this website that detail fan-theories and rumours, displaying an intricate knowledge of already established comic-book lore.
... and then there's the opposite of that...
Let's start off with a light example. Do you remember when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was in full swing (pun truly intended) and everyone was surmising that this one would feature the Death of Gwen Stacy because the Green Goblin was revealed to be one of the villains?
Admittedly, that wasn't the only reason. There was also a production still of Gwen wearing the clothes that she wore when she died in the comics while standing on a bridge.
The general consensus was still that, if they were going to uphold the comics (which played a lot into the movie's success) Gwen Stacy had to die because Green Goblin was going to be the main villain in this movie-
The film-makers cited the Ultimate Spider-Man series of comics as inspiration for The Amazing Spider-Man, and in those series of comics Gwen Stacy is killed by Carnage. Yet, here the film-makers were trying to shoe-horn the Death of Gwen Stacy into an already overly stuffed and convoluted plot because it was what they perceived that the fans would expect.
Which brings me to Fantastic Four.
The marketing for this movie brought fans out of the woodwork that the general public didn't even know existed. If the amount of people denouncing this movie actually bought and read the Fantastic 4 comic series, it maybe wouldn't have been cancelled (okay, that was a low-blow, I apologise).
It starts with little things, really. While Doctor Doom being a blogger is a bit of a WTF aspect that I'll attribute to Toby Kebbell simply mis-speaking, people were complaining that the character's name was going to be Victor Domashev as opposed to Victor Von Doom. Now, how could this possibly be a thing-
I guess they didn't give a Van Damme about that little piece of trivia. What about The Thing not wearing any pants? He's never done that before-
What about the tone? Fantastic Four isn't supposed to be dark, like the movie was suggesting it would be. It's supposed to be light-hearted and goofy-
So you're telling me I missed out on the dark, 80s body horror movie that Fantastic Four was originally intended to be because a bunch of weirdos define maggot infested zombies, Sue's brother slowly dying in front of her, a house with an entire family inside it being blown up, Doctor Doom wanting to go Vlad The Impaler on the Fantastic Four and Ben dreaming about losing control and killing his friends as 'light-hearted and goofy fun'?
Can you see how this is frustrating?!
It extends to the casting as well. People were quick to label the move of casting Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm as a stunt to appease SJWs, never mind that Fox was initially hesitant about the casting and the more likely option would simply be that Josh Trank hired an actor who he had worked with previously in which said actor played a similar role to Johnny Storm anyway, so it made perfect sense.
Same thing with Ghostbusters. Hiring women and having them shoot a giant ghost in the crotch must be all part of some misandric SJW conspiracy, never mind that Paul Feig has made a habit of working with women from SNL and is just applying that here and crotch-shots have been a staple of comedy movies since the dawn of cinema.
It really plays up to the hypocrisy of this line of thinking. Sure, the SJWs and the studios made it about agendas to try and combat the intense hatred towards their movies, but the fans do the same thing and are therefore just as complicit.
This brings me to my final point.
4) You make it impossible to judge the movie properly.
When Fantastic Four came out and bombed, people were quick to denounce Josh Trank and his vision, stating that there was no possible way for his movie to work in the first place simply because his vision was flawed from the start.
How we're supposed to even know that considering that his vision was compromised practically from the beginning, I'll never figure out.
The same applies to movies like Ghostbusters, to the point that we'll never know whether someone actually liked the movie or hated it based on its actual quality or because of what the movie theoretically stood for.
It's simple really; Positivity is more likely to breed better movies.
Deadpool was a movie that was basically paraded into theaters. I don't think a single person was against this movie prior to its release. Even people who weren't comic-book fans were excited for this movie because it looked like a hell of a lot of fun. I'd attribute a lot of that to the fact that there wasn't some massive scandal attributed to this movie. Tim Miller was given carte blanche and he made the film he wanted to make.
Let me put it this way; say Deadpool's script was the same, but they got an African-American to play the main character. Say Tim Miller hired a black actor because said actor had really good comic-timing and had a real chemistry with Morena Baccaren. That would make the movie less comic-book accurate in the eyes of fans, but would that really change its quality?
When you watch Deadpool, you don't think about the studio. Fox doesn't loom large over this property, breathing down its neck and trying to micro-manage everything about it to try and pander to audiences. They took the risk, they bet big and when the chips were down, they ended up taking the house.
It's the same thing with Marvel. They are going to make The Ancient One white, they are going to make The Mandarin a british, drug-fuelled pimp and they are going to make Spider-Man: Homecoming's love-interest black, whether she's Mary Jane, Liz Allen, Michelle Gonzalez, Betty Brandt, Deborah Whitman, Carlie Cooper, Harry Osborn or whoever she's going to be. If that offends you to your core, then you can deal with it, because Marvel aren't going to change for you.
That's ultimately what it comes down to. Studios aren't going to change for you. Sony was not going to halt production on Ghostbusters. Fox was not going to scrap Fantastic Four. They were simply going to get really... really... REALLY defensive about it and then work their way towards a terrible compromise that ends up pleasing nobody.
So I ask, for the final time, next time a studio makes a decision that you don't agree with; why not give it a chance anyway? Sure, it might not fit your vision of the character, but remember that it's not all about you. You're not spending millions of dollars to produce a film, you're paying to watch it and then afterwards, how you respond is entirely up to you.
The take away message from this article? It's better to give a movie the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to surprise you, then to expend all your energy denouncing it, only to guarantee that it won't.
Thanks for reading.