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 RiderGhost 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 the Iron 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 was
an 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
, 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
started off with a modest 64%
, followed closely by X2
, 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...