Being a fan of the Marvel comic universe, I love the idea of film adaptations, but very few of them actually seem to work for some reason, averaging only 54% on Metacritic! So I just thought I'd take a quick run-through of the recent ones (Blade onwards), and share my thoughts on why I think this might be...
The first Blade film rated 45%, which is pretty poor to begin with, but being that it's about a day-walking vampire that kills, well, vampires, this never really surprised me. I remember liking the film when I first saw it, but I loved vampires anyway, so was probably biased. Blade II jumped up to 52%, which is better, but still not great, and although I can't remember it that well, I think it had a bit more action and even scarier vampires, so that probably helped. Then Blade: Trinity came along and, well, pretty-much flopped. It rated 38% on Metacritic, which seems to sync up with what most people I know think of it. My best guess is that they tried to add too many new characters, and with the inclusion in Ryan Reynolds, humour, which didn't really sit well with a "serious" vampire flick... plus it had Dracula, which I think threw most people off.
I just re-watched Daredevil the other day, and I can agree with its score of 42%. Ben Affleck looked absolutely wooden in his martial arts scenes, and the Director seems to have tried to make the film into some sort of music video, with music like N*E*R*D, which just seemed... wrong. I think the film needed to take itself a little more seriously to have been any good. After this, they decided to give Elektra her own film for some reason, and again, I don't really remember it, but I do remember ninjas that dissolved after being killed, which really says it all. I don't think the general viewing public is really ready for ninja fantasy, which I guess is why it only got 34%.
Fantastic Four Series
I just re-watched both FF films not that long ago, and I actually liked them more than I remembered. I've never been a FF comic fan, so I'm not sure how faithful they were, but I think they landed themselves into a classification no-mans-land. Fantastic Four had a teen rating, and yet it was so light-hearted, that it seemed directed at children. This is possibly what score it 40%. I think for a teen/adult market, they needed to give it a darker tone. The second film, Rise of The Silver Surfer, didn't score much better with 45%, but I think again, they probably would have been better off making the film more serious, and darker, to aim for the adult market that it was classified for.
Ghost Rider only scored 35%, but I think this mainly has to do with the content. How can anyone make a decent film about a guy with a flaming skull-head? I mean, honestly. Whoever thought of choosing this series for a film adaptation must have been having delusions of grandeur or something.
I think the first Ang Lee adaptation, simply named, Hulk, was trying to be too... intelligent. There were all these weird, trippy scenes of jellyfish floating through the desert, which just did not work at all. The Hulk is a dumb, immensely powerful creature that smashes stuff... and that's pretty-much it. No one goes to a Hulk film to think. They just want to see him fight and break stuff. The best scene in this film was when he was in the desert smashing tanks with other tanks! I guess that is why this one only got 54%, while the newer Marvel version score 61%. The Incredible Hulk showed people exactly what they wanted to see. It was darker, scarier, and we got to see Hulk fighting his arch-nemesis, Abomination.
Iron Man Series
I think theIron Man owes most of its 79% score to Robert Downey Jr. The man plays Stark with the charm and humour I think the character needed to succeed. It wasan origins story, so it started off fairly slow, but I think that might have actually been its saving grace, because Iron Man 2, which jumped right into the action with FX-galore, only scored 57%. As is often the case with sequels, I think it was too keen to show off as much action as possibly, it forgot about that little thing called "character".
There's not really much to be said about these movies. The Punisher scored a massive 33%, while it's sequel/remake, Punisher: War Zone, scored an even worse,30%. I think the problem with Punisher is that even though he does have his own successful comic series, he's not enough of a stand-out character to hold his own in film. He basically is just your run-of-the-mill action-hero, which everyone has already seen in hundreds of movies, so if they were to make a Punisher film work, they would really have to bring something new and exciting to the game.
The Spider-Man series started strong, got even stronger... and then flopped. Spider-Man score 73%, which isn't too shabby to begin with, but then Spider-Man 2 came along and brought another 10%, giving it an amazing 83%! It was a touch darker than the first, with scenes such as Doc Oc's awakening featuring Raimi's classic "monster-cam", but still had the perfect mix of Spidey humour throughout. Spider-Man 3, however, scored a dismal 59%, which most people I know attributing to its "mood" being all over the shop. It starts off all depressing, with Peter moping about, then it turns into some weird Emo comedy skit, and then finishes up as an action blockbuster. What the hell?
As with Spider-Man, this series started fairly strong, and then went down-hill... way down-hill. X-Men started off with a modest 64%, followed closely by X2 with 68%, but then The Last Stand started the series down the slippery slope with 58%. Having re-watched this one only recently, my best interpretation is that they just tried to cram too many characters in, which watered down their already-thin character-building. There were mutants in there that you never even saw until the shot where they were being killed, and unless you were an eagle-eyed fan, you were left thinking, "Who the hell was that?" X-Men Origins: Wolverine took the series even further down. It took the hugely-popular character of Deadpool, and turned him into some freaky hybrid Frankenstein's monster for god knows what reason. This would only have upset the fans, however, and doesn't account for the appalling 43% score. That, I attribute mostly to its boring story, including the uninteresting romance. I wonder how the sequel will shape up?
After all that, I have come to a few conclusions as to why most of these films fail. First of all, there is the mistake of focusing too heavily on action and FX rather than character-building and plot, as in Iron Man 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand. Then there's the issues of not taking the film seriously (DD), making it too "kiddy" (FF), or too "intelligent" (Hulk). And finally, based on the lowest scoring of all the films, I think "fantasy" is a big issue. Though they might work in comic-form, I don't think the general movie-going public is really interested in concepts such as Ghost Rider's flaming head or Elektra's mystical ninjas, which makes me wonder how well received Thor will be when it's released...
Not sure exactly how it happened, but just in the last week or so, Blindfold (Ruth Aldine) has become one of my favourite characters. I've been reading New X-Men (2004) lately, but she actually doesn't have much "screen time" in that series. It was only in "researching" the characters that I learnt more about her, and the more I learned, the more I liked. It's this sudden interest that has lead me to write this blog. It's not anything new, that you won't find in her CV profile, but it's me working through the reasons I think she has "made the cut" so quickly...
As is the case with any visual medium, aesthetics play a large part in a character's appeal. Blindfold is certainly no exception. Before gaining the yellow-and-black X-Men uniform in Young X-Men, she chose to wear dresses, shoulder drapes, and her trademark blindfold, and had a certain humble elegance about her. She is by all means a pretty girl, although as part of her mutation, she actually has no eyes, just skin where they should be, which has a sort of creepy, supernatural-horror coolness to it:
Then finally, there's the all-important powers, which according to her profile, include:
Though she doesn't seem to possess this power any more, in Astonishing she was powerful enough to wake Cyclops from Emma's/Cassandra's psychic-coma and then communicate with him from outside the mansion.
Who wouldn't love to know what is about to happen? I'm not sure how far into the future she can see, but still, even a few minutes would come in handy!
Listed as "Postcognition" on her profile page, this is the ability to know what has happened despite you not being there to witness it. I don't know the extent of Ruth's ability in this area, but from what I've read about this sense in general, it usually appears to be based on an object or location.
Clairvoyance is the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event, without experiencing them first-hand. This is presumably how Ruth is able to walk around and such without sight. She would just know where things are. From what I've read, this can also relate to distant objects and events, though I'd guess those would have to consciously be focused on to "see". I think this ability is the present, to the previous one's future and past.
So there you have my little tribute to Blindfold. She certainly is an interesting character and I hope she makes many more appearances in upcoming X-Men-related arcs.
I think the X-Men are so popular because people--particularly teenagers--can relate to being an outcast at some point in their life, and being an X-Man means that, even though you're not "normal", you can still be part of a group, which is something that every human psychologically needs. However, I got thinking further into this--which I know I probably shouldn't be doing with comics--and began wondering about another basic human need: the need for love.
With mutants such as Emma Frost and Psylocke, finding a partner would obviously be no trouble at all. Having a girlfriend who could read your mind may cause some issues, but it is still something that could be worked around. However, I started wondering about some of the less "aesthetically pleasing" of them, and whether they are destined to live a life of solitude...
For starters, there's the X-Men mainstay, Beast. Could anyone ever be attracted to a blue, furry, cat-like guy? I guess, there are those out there who are into bestiality and whatnot, so it's no too far-fetched, but what about some of the others?
Mercury? Sure she's an attractive girl, but would anyone be able to handle touching her cold, smooth, metallic skin every day of their lives together? Perhaps. It's probably not too much of a stretch.
How about... Rockslide, with his stone body? I know Ben Grimm has a girlfriend, but how realistic is that? Could anyone--even a blind person--possibly find a rock-bodied partner attractive? Seriously, the next time you're outside, go and touch a rock. Does it do anything for you? I know it's meant to be the person inside that counts, but come on, there's obviously a limit.
Finally, I'll finished up with the poor soul who actually lead me on this train of thought: Glob Herman. How unfortunate is this guy? His body is made up of wax, which happens to be translucent, allowing his skeleton and organs to be seen inside. I think I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this guy will never find a girl. His body isn't even toned, it's blobby, and he doesn't have any cool powers that could be some form of consolation. He can be set on fire and throw parts of his body... whoopee! Who knows, perhaps one day, a writer out there will create a bio-paraffin-bodied girl for poor Herman to meet, and they can live happily ever after and make beautiful little candles together : )
I'm interested to know what everyone else thinks. Are there particular mutants that you feel will never find love? Are there some unusual ones that you could see yourself settling down with? Feel free to discuss...
For whatever reasons, comic characters have always had a tough time translating over to video games. Due to my love of both, this has always bothered me. A recent exception has been Batman: Arkham Asylum, which has shown that it is possible, so I thought I'd just run through some of the "heavy hitters" and see how I think they could or couldn't work...
The Avengers haven't featured in their own video game since the early 90's, however, this could soon change with the new film coming out in a few years. The big problem here is that films never make for good games. It limits their design and scope too much. Another problem is that with so many characters on the roster, you'd lose the intimacy of character development that I believe made AA such a good game. I'm sure some of the team could feature in their own game:
I can't think of any recent games (good ones anyway) where the main form of weaponry was a bow and arrow, and with all the varying types Hawkeye is known for, I think he would make for an interesting solo game career.
The Fantastic Four have actually had a few of their own games, but from what I've read, they were terrible. I think the team has great potential for a game however, if only the time and passion was input to make it work. With only four characters, you could still have the character building and plot, but their much-different powers could also lend themselves to a wide variety of gameplay.
The X-Men have seen themselves in quite a few video games as well, but I think the problem has always been their numbers. As I mentioned with the Avengers, having so many characters on the roster never allows you to get to really get to know them and you just end up with a brawling action game such as the Ultimate Alliancegames, which can be fun in their own rights, but tend to get tedious quite quickly.
Cap has featured in a few games, but only once as a solo gig. The rest have been team efforts, in which I've already mentioned their drawbacks. Being a rather "normal" hero, I don't think he would make much of an exciting game. It would just end up as a simple beat-em-up I imagine.
Daredevil on the other hand, I think has a lot of potential. I've never been interested in his comics, but his enhanced senses could make for some novel gameplay mechanics. For instance, he could have a "focus bar", which could be used for his senses:
Hearing could be focused to hear distant or quite noises or conversations, or alert of nearby enemies.
Smell could be focused to "see" scents as gas-trails that can then be followed or avoided.
Touch could maybe be used as a sort of thermal "vision" where he can sense heat in his surroundings etc.
There is definitely a lot of potential there. Black Widow has also starred in many DD comics, so perhaps she could be included.
As much as Doc Strange has grown on me recently, I'm not sure about his gaming potential. Sure he has a lot of magical powers and such, but I can't think of how they could be used in ways that haven't already been done to death. Perhaps a game with the other Defenders* would be better?
Hulk is obviously my favourite character, but he has also seen his fair share of video games. Their downfall comes from the repetition of simply smashing stuff. I think the 2003 Hulk tie-in was on the right track with having Bruce Banner "stealth" levels to mix it up a little, but I think they just didn't get them quite right. Bruce is meant to be one of the smartest people on the planet, so if this was incorporated somehow, I think it could work. My best guess is to do something along the lines of Amadeus Cho, where he can "see" equations and use something as simple as a well-placed pebble to take out an enemy. If that was combined with the stealth, I think it would mix up the action quite nicely.
Due to the recent release of the Iron Man films, Tony has subsequently starred in his own video games. Both of these sucked, as movie tie-ins always do. I think they were on the right track with their open-world gameplay, but a change of scenery is not enough to trick people into thinking the next mission is "new".
Namor suffers the same fate as Aquaman. For whatever reason, gamers don't really like being underwater. My best guess is the lack in scenery. Being underwater, even in the best of conditions, only always a visual distance of a few meters, so you never get "background scenery", which tends to get a little boring. On top of this, neither Namor or Aquaman have very impressive powers, so what do you do with them?
I'm not sure if anything could be done with Mr. Fury. He's... just a guy. I don't even understand how he had his own comic series, let alone making it into the gaming world.
Frank Castle has already featured in many video games. Simply being a guy with guns, out for revenge, he pretty much is the epitome of every other video game character out there...
I don't really think She-Hulk could hold her own in a video game. She doesn't have the "screen presence" of Hulk, so would probably best be suited to an Avengers game at best.
I'm not even going to bother with Spidey. He's probably had the most video game appearances out of any Marvel character, and even has a new one called Shattered Dimensions due out soon.
Thor also has his own game due out soon, though being a film tie-in, I have very low expectations. I think, as a character, Thor has a lot of potential, so hopefully I'll be proven wrong.
Seem a little bleak? Of course not! Even though Hawkeye, FF, and Daredevil were the only ones on my list I classed as "potentials", all that means is that it's time for some of the lesser-knowns to step up to the plate. Characters such as Moon Knight, and teams like the Inhumans and X-Force. There's tons of potential if only the video game developers were willing to take the risk.
Like most people, I wasn't that surprised when I heard that Edward Norton wouldn't be reprising the role of Bruce Banner in the coming "Avengers" movie. Every report on "The Incredible Hulk" mentioned him as being a bit of a control freak--rewriting the script and such--which certainly wouldn't sit well in a film where his character's screen-time will undoubtedly be minor. I was, however, shocked at the news that Mark Ruffalo will be taking over the role. Not that I think he's a bad actor or anything, because I don't, but because he's just not... Bruce-like.
Everyone knows Bruce Banner is a scrawny, nerdy scientist. That's the whole point--to contrast the Hulk's size and strength. Ed Norton certainly had the physique for the role, but I don't think he really pulled off the nerdy aspect. Mark Ruffalo on the other hand, looks like he could play a nerd... but he's not at all scrawny! Now I'm not going to play Casting Director and go into who I think should play the role, because, to be honest, I haven't even thought about it, but surely there are others out there who would suit the role more so than him.