Alright, Marvel. We get it. You know the exact formula for racking in the box-office hits. A recipe of explosions, charm, gettable wit, challenges, briefly sad moments that end-up resolved, then after all of this, victory.
Each of us movie-goers have grown to understand this roller-coaster ride, since we’ve all probably ridden it dozens of times. We know the twists and turns, we know that although we’re 100% safe, we still pretend that we feel a certain level of risk and danger with each turn in the plot. Although we understand all of this, we all seem to never get tired of it.
The only thing that these multi-billion dollar production companies need to do is plug in this fairly straightforward recipe, and at times, throw in a bit of variation in tone–typically through the natural character of the lead actor (ie. Paul Rudd as Ant Man or Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man)–then you end-up with success. Film producers make boatloads of money and the audience seem to love it every single time. It’s a win-win.
Though, how is it that all of us still love this Marvel-trademarked roller-coaster ride even after riding it for years? How long will it take for us to get bored of it? When will the routine get old?
With each blockbuster movie–not just the ones coming out of Marvel–I seriously start to worry more and more. In the beginning, I rode that hype train happily with movies like the first Ironman and first Spiderman remake (sorry Tobey), but now, it’s almost like hearing a joke that’s been said over and over and over again. I know the punchline and the lead-up, saying it in a different setting or tone doesn’t make it any less predictable or tedious.
Just to get off Marvel Studios’ back, other production companies (although its hard to tell that they’re any different at all) that have created critically-praised movies as of recent, like Mad Max and the new Star Wars, are no different.
For myself, after getting home from spending $20 to $30 at the theatre, feeling a bit conflicted, this is usually my inner monologue:
“Okay, this has got to be it. Mad Max must have gotten ‘max’ 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. There is no way in hell a 2 hour-long movie about these characters I know zero about driving through a desert to get away from a bunch of bald white dudes throwing explosive spears, then only to watch them turn around and drive back, actually get any sort of praise from critics.”
Then you turn on that laptop, see that 97% rating (seriously, what?!) and read as both critics and users call it “one of the best movies of the year,” which just straight-up is not right.
What is seriously missing in these huge hits, and what I believe truly makes a film great, is character development. That’s right, actually understanding who these characters are that we personally dedicate hours of our lives too. Sure, explosions are fun to watch, but what really resonates after the credits roll is the idea of connection and depth.
Give us the reasons in why we should feel for these characters–why we should cheer for them when they win, fear for them when they’re in danger–instead of the obligatory thought that “Okay, this guy is Tom Hardy or Chris Evan or whomever, he’s the main protagonist, lets cheer and cry for him because that’s what we’re supposed to do.” An audience should be won over with each film, not spoon-fed what to feel due to culture, hype or sheer distraction.
Really, it’s strange. In one hand, nearly all members in-tune with TV and film have dedicated dozens of hours to TV series’ like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, which are shows that are almost excessively based off of character development and filled with serious ups-and-downs. Yet, in the other hand, we praise and consciously support the hollowed-out blockbuster films that now completely dominate the current world of film. I honestly don’t know why.
I hope that eventually people get bored of these regurgitated films, and start craving for more value, not just visual effects or lame jokes. I hope that some of these quality films that currently fly under-the-radar get the attention and praise they deserve, and the tides change a bit. I hope for all of this, not just for the sake of popular film, but also because it’s just really starting to get old.
Luckily, there’s a few TV series producers that know what’s up.