My only comment here is that intentionally drawing people standing as statically and woodenly as possible in the exact same depth of field feels really wrong as a cartoonist.
Today’s annotation is by Robert:
Long ago, in the heady summer of 2012, a film came out that would smash box office records, be quoted endlessly, and generally enjoy the kind of popularity that most movie studio executives would not dare to even dream of. True, every Marvel film leading up to The Avengers did well; even Thor, which is sadly the red-headed stepchild of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and The Incredible Hulk, which appears to be trying to be dull on purpose. But The Avengers was the crowning achievement of the burgeoning franchise – it appealed to essentially everybody, and not just because it was Hunks And Explosions: The Movie.
There’s a delicate art to making a story that is joyously (but not overwhelmingly) strange for the general public’s tastes, which Marvel Studios itself has struggled with. Martin and I both love Thor: The Dark World, but I understand entirely why its mix of high fantasy and science fiction didn’t click with general audiences. Scenes of elves in black X-Wings fighting Viking aliens in flying longboats will never elicit anything from me but joy, but the Thor series may as well be called Loki And Everyone Else in most people’s eyes. The enormously popular Guardians of the Galaxy, on the other hand, shuffled space opera into the MCU with panache and wit, appealing to both deep nerds and non-readers. The line between ‘cool weird’ and ‘weird weird’ is razor-thin, and filmmakers require the utmost care to stay on the right side of it. One need only consider the dozens of lighthearted space opera fantasy movies after May 25th 1977 that crashed and burned, while their inspiration and its sequels are cultural touchstones.
With this in mind, the temptation to stay from ‘weird’ of any kind is understandable from a business perspective, if not from that of a functioning human being. When your basis proudly names its hero ‘Mr Fantastic’, you must step up to the plate and make that real. Not ‘realistic’. ‘Realistic’ is the watchword of superhero filmmakers that refuse to be brave, ignoring entirely the fact that Batman Begins and Casino Royale were so popular because ‘realistic’ fit both Batman and Bond perfectly. Real. Luke Skywalker staring longingly out into the twin suns of Tattooine, or Yinsen telling Tony Stark not to waste his life is real. Superman, and Spider-Man being wayward, boring and utterly unlikable angry young men is ‘realistic’, and all signs point to Fantastic Four being exactly the same.
If I may diverge, however, I do have some hope. Not for Fantastic Four, or even future Marvel Studios releases (which I can trust will be great or at the very least good), but for another superhero film.
I genuinely miss The Amazing Spider-Man series, because it was endearingly and hilariously incompetent. The first time I saw TASM, I was livid. The second time, I was in hysterics. Once you realise that it is neither amazing nor about Spider-Man, and instead should be titled The Cutesy Seduction of the World’s Second Blandest Love Interest by a Hipster Douche Who Occasionally Transforms Into A Live-Action ‘Shark Tale’-Era Dreamworks Character (or ‘TCSotWSBLIbaHDWOTIALSTEDC’ for short), the film becomes the comedy of the year. Its sequel, The Exasperating Troubles of a Hipster Douche, A Guy He Met Who Now Hates Him For Reasons, Another Guy He Met A While Ago That We’re Supposed To Remember Even Though Nobody Ever Brought Him Up, His Dad Who Has The Least Interesting Revelation In Cinematic History, His Girlfriend Who Is Trying To Escape This Movie At All – And We Do Mean ALL – Costs, And About Ten Minutes of PS4 Cutscene Heroics (‘TEToaHDAGHMWNHHFRAGHMAWATWSTRETNEBHUHDWHTLIRICHHGWITTETMAA-AWDMA-CAATMoPS4CH’), is even better and even worse, all at once. (And don’t give me that ‘Andrew Garfield was a good Spider-Man but a bad Peter Parker’ horseshit. It’s not Garfield’s fault, he’s a fine actor, but the studio and the writers made him play the character completely wrong. If Robert Downey Junior was a badly written Tony Stark but a great Iron Man, people would rightly pillory him and the movie he was in, so I’m not giving the movie any credit for getting the most basic of story matters slightly right.)
Yet the TASM series is over for now, and my heart needs a new film to fill the gaping hole of hilariously awful. I believe Suicide Squad is the one I’ve been waiting for.
The DC Cinematic Universe attempting to be lighthearted and badass will be a sight to behold. All signs from Man of Steel point to neither of those things being anywhere near its idiom, and while Zach Snyder is not involved in SS (awkward initials!), I expect it will attempt to slot in neatly with the same universe as MoS. I have high hopes and low expectations for Suicide Squad. It’s a movie designed by a 13-year old boy who has drunk too much Mountain Dew, and while there is nothing wrong with either of those things, it is perhaps best that they not be given control of multimillion dollar film franchises. (I certainly hoped my story of Regular Guy Who Is Definitely Not Robert Escapes Horrific Post-Apocalyptic World, Battles Army of Vampires and Grim Reapers and Marries Beautiful Priestess Lady would have a three-part film adaptation when I was that age, but I doubt I was, or am, the only one.) I presume that Harley Quinn is missing most of her pants because fabric on her thighs would impede her ability to kick, and that Deadshot is wearing a pair of white gym briefs on his head for strategic reasons.