I love superheroes and this year was just one giant present filled with costume clad characters. I’ve already counted down and commented on the 5 superhero movies of 2013 over at Paper Droids but while that was about looking back, I decided to look forward.
I got 5 people who love superheroes and superhero movies to discuss the films of 2013 and what that’ll mean in terms of the expectations we’ll have for the 2014 batch. They come from all walks of life. They either reside in the United States or Canada. Some read comics while others haven’t. They do share one thing in common and it’s superheroes on the screen so let’s hear what this panel has to say…
What’s your most anticipated 2014 film and why?
I can’t confirm that it will happen in 2014, but there seems to be a John Constantine show in development at NBC. Hellblazer is one of my absolute favourite series, and I think it could work well as a TV show, especially from the network that’s bringing us Hannibal. The comics lend themselves to storytelling like Buffy or Supernatural, with new monsters every week and an overarching apocalyptic plot each season. Unusual for a magician, John prefers pulling cons to using magic, so special effects could be minimal. The support cast features all kinds of colourful characters who could transition well to the small screen, from cab-driver Chas to succubus Chantinelle, but the show-runners could easily introduce new characters. I’m not a huge fan of Goyer’s dark and gritty vision for the DC movie-verse, but given that Hellblazer is dark and gritty anyway my hope is that they’ll make something good, even if accidentally. At least it can’t be worse than the Keanu Reeves version.
X-Men Days of Future Past! Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen – what’s not to like? Can’t wait to see how James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play off them!
Hands down it’s Winter Soldier. I could point out it’s based off an Eisner award winning run but even that doesn’t do Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America justice. We’re talking about the defining run of a character that’s been around since the 40’s. I don’t expect it to live up the comic, but if it’s even half as good it has a shot at being the best movie they’ve released. Honorable mention to Guardians of Galaxy. Less about the team and more about what it could open. If the Kree show up that could lead to Ms/Captain Marvel and Inhumans. There’s some talk that because of the constant bickering between Fox and Marvel that Marvel is using the fall out of Infinity so that they can have mutant-but-not-mutants.
It’s hard for me to pin a single movie down because I’m excited for several, but Guardians of the Galaxy is probably at the top at the moment because it’s an unpacked box and I’m pretty eager to see what they’ve filled it with. I’m pretty happy with the casting, particularly Zoe Saldana as Gamora, though it’d be nice if Hollywood had more roles for actresses of color that didn’t require being covered in makeup.
My most anticipated 2014 superhero flick is Captain America: Winter Soldier. This was actually such a hard pick because I am super excited for X-Men Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. But they cut Rogue from X-men and replaced Kitty Pryde’s role with Wolverine, so I’m already disillusioned by this film. And I thinkGuardians of the Galaxy has a lot of potential but I’m not confident it’ll live up to it. Winter Soldier on the other hand already has three things going for it. The first is that Chris Evans is a fabulous Captain America – he has that earnest, boy next-door face but is obviously more than capable at getting things done. He’s a leader because you want to follow him – not because he’s a billionaire with lots of fancy technology or because he’s a super powered alien. He’s just a loyal and dedicated soldier, trying to do what’s right. The second thing is that the source material is written by Ed Brubaker, who is one of the best comic writers out there. His runs on Captain America, Catwoman, Gotham Centraland now Velvet are must reads and as long as they stay true to that comic I’m sure it’ll be great. And the third is that Black Widow is in it, in what Kevin Feige says is “her biggest role yet”.
What would you like to happen in the 2014 films that the 2013 ones didn’t deliver on or do well at?
The thing about 2013’s superhero films is that I didn’t feel like they were doing anything new. Even worse, they all felt like they were trying to emulate Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. Don’t get me wrong those were great movies, but there is only so much superhero angst I can take. I’m hoping from more humour. In comics, superheroes often make a lot of jokes – even Batman has been known to throw a pun or two around. Other than The Amazing Spider Man, I can’t think of a superhero movie were I actually laughed consistently.
Diversity. I don’t care that they made Jimmy Olsen a woman, that Rhodey was in Iron Man 3, or that Idris Elba got more than a few solid moments. Those are all a nice start. If any of the movies in 2014 can set it up so that either a woman or person of color gets a solo franchise I’ll be happy.
I’d also really like them to be all around better movies. For the most part the movies in 2013 were very enjoyable, but there was nothing that knocked me on my ass. None of them had a transcendent performance by an actor that carried the movie into that next level like Ledger did for Dark Knight. Just looking at the films, it feels like there’s a lot of potential for someone to break out like that.
I would like Andrew Garfield to really capture the never say quit attitude of Peter Parker. Amazing Spider-Man #33 is considered one of the greatest comics of all time because Peter’s refusal to ever give up. There’s action in it but the defining moment is him just lifting rubble off of him. The original trilogy tried to have that moment but fell short each time. Peter’s response to Green Goblin threatening May and MJ was going for it it, but I never felt landed. Even with the really damaged suit I never felt like Peter was out of it but pulled through because of will. With a movie jam packed with villains it really should be possible for him to demonstrate that.
Same goes for Winter Soldier. Jason Latour said that Cap is really about defending your dreams at all cost and that Winter Soldier is about picking those dreams back up once they were broken. The potential is there for Evans or Stan to really do something special. I want something special from one of them.
I am generally easy to please when it comes to superhero movies because I’ve only been reading comics for a few years and therefore don’t have a longtime buildup of expectations, but I had some beefs with this 2013’s movies.
Representation. Wolverine leaned too heavily on Japanese stereotypes (no, not the ninjas and love hotels: the ambition-driven, stoic-faced men and the inherent meekness in the women, even Yukio), The Dark Word could have easily had more people of color on its roster and given Hogun, his homeland, and his people more screen time. I was pleased with the screen time and agency the major women in most films received, but there’s always room for more (and for some lady-centric superhero films; none are slotted for 2014 but I can hope for upcoming years.) And as always I’m a little down-trodden by a lack of gay and transgender characters.
Characterization and character inclusion. I opted out of watching Man of Steel entirely for the oft-debated reasons, and I’ll likely not bother with Days of Future Past either because the entire X-Men franchise has been such a massive disappointment.
Less (or better-handled) CGI. While The Dark World pulled off its visuals on a grand scale without much trouble, The Wolverine had a lot of noticeably substandard CGI and it ruined potentially important moments like Logan’s interaction with that (bizarre looking) bear. This year Guardians of the Galaxy will obviously be the biggest to watch on this, and will likely pass or fail with new audiences based on how well they pull off their CGI.
I want it (and other superhero movies) to have fun with the genre, something more like The Avengers rather than the ultra-serious (and ultimately boring) Man of Steel.
I also want more complex female roles, more Pepper Potts-type love interests who are powerful in their own right (e.g. as business magnates), or even better, a female superhero as the star!
My hope for 2014 superhero movies would be more emotional resonance. Iron Man 3 was better than I expected, but it didn’t really make me feel for Tony Stark; enough has been said about the warmth and hopefulness that Man of Steel lacked, and even the emotional moments in Thor 2 were so predictable that they fell completely flat. Sequels are especially difficult, since the origin-story films tend to put heroes through substantial change that later films just maintain. We know when we go to a superhero movie (unless Christopher Nolan is in charge) that the characters will probably be okay, so creators have to be more imaginative to elicit an emotional response (and no, threatening the women and a hero’s life isn’t good enough). I like to see superheroes fight crime and punch bad guys, but the best superhero films are the ones that bring me on an emotional journey as well.
What character or story arc would you like to see on the screen?
I always wished Rogue had her own movie – though a more kick ass version than Anna Paquin’s.
There are dozens of characters I’d love to see on the big screen. Most of all I would like Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Storm to get their own movies, but close behind would be Miles Morales (which I think would make an amazing animated movie) or an X-Men film with Mister Sinister as the headlining villain (when Marvel gets the franchise back). When it comes to story arcs, I’m not picky, because I prefer when the movie-verse strikes out on its own for plot instead of relying too heavily on source material.
As much as I’d love to see the Avengers battle Kang the Conqueror, what I want most is a solo lady hero film. I’m not even that picky, although my top picks would be Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, or She-Hulk. Heroes like Thor and Iron Man became household names after their films were released, and if Marvel is willing to gamble on Guardians of the Galaxy, there is no reason that someone like She-Hulk, given her association with an existing character, shouldn’t appear in the MCU as well. Wonder Woman is a cultural icon even for those who have never picked up a comic, and she deserves better than third-billing. Given my preference for superhero teams, I’d happily accept a team movie made up of mostly (if not entirely) women. Birds of Prey or Fearless Defenders, anyone? Excuses to keep these ladies out of the spotlight have rung entirely hollow in my ears, and it is past time that we get some starring roles for superheroes who aren’t straight white guys.
SO MANY! But I’ll narrow it down to my top three – 1) the current Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), 2) Wonder Woman (without Bats or Superman) or 3) an Avengers movie with the current team from the Avengers Assemble comic: Black Widow, Spider Woman, Hawkeye and Spider Girl (they could also throw Captain Marvel in here). OR a Black Widow solo film – one where you see her in Russia, outside of what she does for the Avengers (notice a theme with my choices?).
What character or story arc that you would like to be turned into a movie?I want this picture from the trailer of Peter under surveillance to be him with Miles Morales and for them to be secretly doing the Death of Spider-Man arc from the Ultimate line, leading to Amazing Spider-Man 3 being about Miles.
What? You say that’s too much to infer from one picture that’s in less than a second of a two minute trailer? Fine I’m going back to tumblr where people understand me!
This one is actually a little hard to answer. Between working in TV and being way too interested in how movies are made, I’m really aware that some of my favorite stories have no chance of being adapted. I think you can throw out most X-Men arcs.Due to Fox’s refusal to reboot, I don’t think you’ll ever see Grant Morrison’s X-Men run really done right. The cure arc in X-Men 3 is probably as close to Whedon’s Astonishing run as we’ll ever get.
The big ones that I want that I see as plausible are Wonder Woman and Ms/Captain Marvel. There are no more excuses. We’ve seen this summer that a woman can carry a franchise. I mean we already knew that, but we got another example to shut up the idiots who still buy into that theory. In Thor, we’ve now seen two movies heavily based on mythology succeed. Yes you need to simplify it a bit. That being said settling on “Her back story is too complicated” is a failure of your imagination, not the character. We just saw a movie based on Norse gods, one of whom in the original mythology once slept with a horse. And then had a horse baby. That Odin then rode around. Actually I wonder if Hiddleston could pull that off… Wait what was I saying? Oh right, you’re out of excuses, Hollywood.
The panel has spoken. Do you agree? Disagree? What’s your 2014 most anticipated film? What character or story arc would YOU like featured on the big screen? Do you have any criticisms regarding the 2013 films and what do you hope 2014 will bring?
Thank you to the panelists for voicing their opinions. You can find them at various places on the internet as I’ve added below. Happy New Year!
A. A. Omer
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Alton Francis (Twitter)