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I'm an out of work actor trying to find his way in the world... and that's about it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Super Hero Movies pt. 1: The Fatal Flaws

I would just like to take this time to say that I have never been as excited about a movie release as I am about Iron Man 2.  I mean, I wasn't even this excited about The Dark Knight.  I think it's safe to say that I measure all comic movies against Iron Man, which, I feel, is the best comic book movie of all time.  Now, I still measure all comic movie VILLAINS against Willem DeFoe's Green Goblin in Spider Man, even The Iron Monger from Iron Man (which was nowhere near as epicly awesome --- or is it awesomely epic --- as The Green Goblin), but that's beside the point.  The point is, Iron Man was a great movie.

Why was it such a great movie?  Because it was as close to perfect as it could have been; The acting was great, the story was smooth and coherent, the villain was neither pathetic nor insanely cheesy (see Bane and Mr. Freeze from Batman and Robin, respectively), and it didn't try to hard. Completely and totally disregard the fact that it did not follow the comics perfectly (a supposed flaw that turns off a lot of comic book fans), ok?  That doesn't matter because the movie kicked proverbial ass and therefor is not deserving of such pointless complaints.  Other than the reasons I already listed for the movie being so awesome, there is one other reason: It did not break what I call the Law of Two.

The Law of Two states that no comic book movie may have more than two villains without sucking.  The Law works like this: If a movie only has one or two villains in a comic book movie, then the movie will, in theory, be able to focus on those villains while still being able to focus on the story; however, if a comic book movie has three or more villains, not only does the movie become incredibly cluttered with characters (see X-Men: Last Stand), but the movie also is not able to tell the story it is intended to tell.  Granted, the story may not have been that great in the first place, but even bad stories need to be told --- to somebody, I guess --- and they should be told the best they can be told... sometimes.


Batman and Robin, Spiderman 3, and X-Men: Last Stand all have two things in common.  The first and most obvious thing is that they were just bad movies.  The second is that they broke the Law of Two.  B&R had three villains (though Bane's pathetic portrayal may qualify for little more than a guy with a shirt that says "Henchman" on the front), and Spiderman 3 had two villains (Venom and Sandman), and a villain who couldn't decide whether or not he was a villain, a home-wrecker, or just comic relief (Harry Osborne).  X3...wow...X3 is probably the worse criminal of all time when it comes the the Law of Two.  X-Men had one villain, Magneto, and THREE henchmen (Mystique, Sabertooth, and Toad) and X-Men 2 had just Magneto (w/ Mystique) and that mutant-hating jerk, Stryker, along with his own mutant, Lady Deathstrike (?).  Last Stand, however, had way too many bad guys for any movie in any genre.  There was that guy who was trying to "cure" all the mutants, there was Magneto, and then there was enough evil mutants to fill the Grand Canyon. 

Now, while there is no limit, in my opinion, to the number of heroes in a comic book movie, there can be too many.  The first two X-Men movies just barely walked the line between the right amount of heroes --- there has to be more than one because it's a team... X-mEn, instead of X-mAn --- and too many.  The crazy thing is, the team underwent slight changes in every movie, having characters randomly appear and vanish between movies as if they were Nightcrawler.  However, those movies didn't get so crowded that they were mentally claustrophobic, like Last Stand was. 

Now, I know that comic books tend to have tons of villains.  The thing is, though, comic books also tend to go on for extended periods of time.  You just don't have enough time in a feature-length motion picture to include every single character that is involved in a comic book.


Another fatal flaw that tends to be thrown onto comic book movies is the phenomenon of trying to hard.  Whether it is the director, the writers, or the producers who are to blame, trying too hard to make a movie can really ruin it.  One of the most obvious examples of this was Ang Lee's Hulk from 2003.  Ang Lee tried way too hard to make Hulk a moving, dramatic, emotional story about inner anguish an conflict with one's self.  Granted, The Incredible Hulk (the character, not the awesome movie with Edward Norton as Bruce Banner) is about those things, but when you lay it on too thick, it gets annoying.  Trust me, I fully understand where Ang Lee was going with that movie, but it just didn't work out the way he wanted it to.  I don't know, maybe it was too much haiku and not enough chaos.

It's also possible that Joel Shumacher also tried way too hard with Batman Forever (which, in my opinion, was a pretty decent movie) and Batman and Robin (NOT a decent movie).  Well, he either tried too hard or he is just easily distracted by bright, shiny lights, because those movies were nothing but neon.  I know he was probably going for a comic book feel for those movies (much like Ang Lee did with Hulk), but if people want to experience comic books, they will read comic books.  Most comic books, regardless of art style, take place in the real world, and that is how they should be depicted in movies.  Film makers should keep this in mind before they decide to take someone else' art and try to make it into their own art --- at least that's my opinion.


 I really have no way to end this other than saying that I am really excited and hopeful about all the marvel movies that are coming out this and in coming years.  I just hope the Avengers don't wind up having to face a "Legion of Doom" sort of team of super villains from each of the individual Avengers' respective movies.  Why?  The Law of Two, of course.


  1. First of all, remind me to tell you about the law of trilogies.
    Second- The Dark Knight was the best superhero movie of all time. Er, well it is better than Iron Man anyways. (I do love X-Men...)

  2. you only say it was the best because it had Heath Ledger in it. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was a great movie... I just feel that Iron Man was better.

    and besides... isn't you who just doesn't like RDJ?