Friday, September 12, 2014

The Audience is at Fault: Between the Lines of Andrew Garfield's Remarks on The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Shortcomings

In the context of comic media, It's been an interesting barrage of news over the past two days. The front runner for the most prevalent news item across my feeds has been courtesy of our friendly neighborhood, socioeconomic activist, and current live-action Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield.
 I happened to run across an article this past Wednesday from The Daily Beast which featured an interview of Garfield by Marlow Stern. Aside from, as mentioned before, being on my radar for his role as Spidey, I've gained respect for the actor due to his and his paramour, Emma Stone's attempts at awareness of more attention deserving social issues whilst flying in the face of celebrity obsession aided by the likes of paparazzi. The meat of the article revolves around Garfield's most recent film project, 99 Homes. This role choice further cements Garfield's leanings towards social activism. As the article continues, we're treated to some candid statements surrounding his experiences filming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, his reaction to the feedback of its moviegoers and his speculation on what influenced said feedback. These candid remarks created a mass of scathing articles insisting that Andrew Garfield lays the blame of The Amazing Spider-Man 2's poor reception on the heads of Sony Studios. 

I can see why others may have taken such a negative spin to Garfield's comments. My initial reading of the interview didn't lead me down that path. The various articles in reaction to this interview caused me to take a second look at his comments. I was wondering if maybe I was being too lenient on his statements or was the usual sensationalistic, volatile nature of geek culture working again to justify its ire

After talking at length about 99 Homes and Garfield's motivations for wanting to undertake such a role with less fanfare than previous projects, Marlow Stern asks how Andrew Garfield felt about The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The particular portion that everyone seems to be picking apart is this one:
 'I think what happened was, through the pre-production, production, and post-production, when you have something that works as a whole, and then you start removing portions of it—because there was even more of it than was in the final cut, and everything was related. Once you start removing things and saying, “No, that doesn’t work,” then the thread is broken, and it’s hard to go with the flow of the story. Certain people at the studio had problems with certain parts of it, and ultimately the studio is the final say in those movies because they’re the tentpoles, so you have to answer to those people.'
 The statement may seem pretty damning in this context. I still see the comment as speculative  rather than accusatory. Nevertheless, what stood out for me is what Garfield added when asked why he was so taken aback by the responses to The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
'It’s a discernment thing. What are the people actually saying? What’s underneath the complaint, and how can we learn from that? We can’t go, “Oh God, we fucked up because all these people are saying all these things. It’s shit.” We have to ask ourselves, “What do we believe to be true?” Is it that this is the fifth Spider-Man movie in however many years, and there’s a bit of fatigue? Is it that there was too much in there? Is it that it didn’t link? If it linked seamlessly, would that be too much? Were there tonal issues? What is it? I think all that is valuable. Constructive criticism is different from people just being dicks, and I love constructive criticism. Hopefully, we can get underneath what the criticism was about, and if we missed anything.'
 Here's my take away from the portion of the article pertaining to TAS2 (typing the entire title for professionalism's sake was getting a tad redundant): Albeit, Sony Studios did ultimately decide on the final cut of the film, these kind of decisions are based on fan response. Movie studios go out of their way to tailor films to the general audience. When you comment on social media, if you're lucky enough to be a part of a test screening, or writing a studio directly, your reactions are taken to heart. Ultimately, movie studios want to make money. Why would you think any movie studio would want to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to their profits?

With that said, is it really Sony Studios at fault for the bad reception of TAS2, or does the fault lie with the moviegoers? Let's be honest. This reiteration of the Spider-Man franchise began on a bad note. There were definitely some good points, but, the movie missed the mark on various levels. It was obvious that Sony took notes from the missteps of the first film. I'd wager that most would agree that TAS2 was a marked improvement over TAS. However, the movie still fell short of captivating its audience unlike The Avengers or more recently, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

As you see from Garfield's ending comments, the actors and the studios are willing to give you the film you want. The rub is how can they do that if you don't express what it is that you need? There is this infestation of negativity surrounding comic book culture that inevitably ruins a constructive exchange between the fans and creators. Constructive criticism has given way to vehement abusive monologue. I feel that our comic geeks and shared superhero film enthusiasts should take an introspective step back and reflect on Andrew Garfield's words. Don't lose the obvious passion for these films that you want to love. To paraphrase Andrew Garfield, instead of being a dick about a film not meeting your expectations, share what didn't work for you and what would have made it better. Your opinion is valued. In the film industry especially, it's seen as money in the bank.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Zack Snyder Tweets us a NEW Batmobile With Added Bang!

In case you were avoiding the internet due to the imposed website slow downs for net neutrality awareness or turned in early, here's a look at the most detailed photo of the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Batmobile provided via Twitter by Zack Snyder.

My first impression was that it looked damned imposing, not to mention, friggin' balls awesome! As I looked over the details of the vehicle, what caught my attention the most was the massive dual gun turret on the front hood. You may ask "Why does this detail stand out so prominently considering the extraordinary size of the vehicle as a whole?" Well, it's because of a couple of the main caveats of Batman you consider when you are telling a story about the character. Batman does not condone the use of standard guns and he does not kill. Perhaps this gun utilizes rubber bullets. I'm not sure. I tweeted Zack for the information. I'm waiting in good hopes of a response. Sadly, I'm betting it's some high caliber munitions used for lethal force. Zack Snyder does not hold a good record of keeping within the parameters of established characterizations.

I know I am a stickler for accurate portrayals of the superheroes I've grown up following. However, I do concede that times have changed as have personal sensibilities. Does a Batman that uses lethal force give you pause or should this be accepted as a viable change to the character in accordance to the new era of right to arms and open carry activists?

Rolling in the Deep or Struck by Lightning?

   In the midst of this resurgence in superhero fanaticism, we've found ourselves on the battlefield of Marvel Studios Vs. DC Entertainment. At this point, it's unarguable that Marvel has the upper hand in this war with their many successes at the box office. You can't read or watch an entertainment section without hearing about the latest comic book movie soon to arrive at your local theater. Other than the colossal success of The Guardians of the Galaxy feature film, the biggest news in comic book films remains Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and more recently, the casting of Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam. Black Adam is the main villain (sometimes anti-hero) of the DC Comics character Shazam, formerly known as Captain Marvel. However, even with the excitement surrounding Dwayne Johnson's casting as a mainstream comics villain in the DC/Marvel films arena, there still remains a casting rumor that has never dwindled in popularity, the alleged casting of Jason Mamoa as the love him or hate him hero, Aquaman.

   I know what you're thinking. "What do you mean by alleged casting. That rumor was confirmed!" Yes, the rumor has been confirmed, albeit, from one source, The Hollywood Reporter. Entertainment outlets have been clamoring for an official statement from Jason Mamoa and DC Entertainment for months. To get the scoop on official casting news surrounding a major comic film would be monumental for any entertainment journalist or media outlet. I call shenanigans on this report. Neither Mamoa or DC Entertainment, to this day, has confirmed THR's claims.

   In July, Huffpost Live reporter, Alyona Minkovski interviewed Jason Momoa. The main focus of the interview centered around his directorial debut with the movie Road to Paloma. Although, not to miss an opportunity, Alyona managed to throw in some questions about Mamoa possibly playing Aquaman in the upcoming Batman V Superman film. His response was to feign ignorance of what Alyona was inquiring. Notable statements of "Huh" and "I don't know about that" come to mind. The only response that would give you any acknowledgement of truth to the rumors was a "We'll just have to wait and see." Later in August, Mamoa would go on to post an interesting meme on Instagram that seemingly debunks his possible casting as Aquaman. All that can really be confirmed is that DC Entertainment has been in talks with Mamoa. As for what role he may be in talks about, no one other than Mamoa and DC Entertainment truly knows.  This brings us back to the current media blitz surrounding Dwayne Johnson and the Shazam! film.

   Now that Johnson has been cast as the villain in the fore mentioned film, the big question remains, who will be cast as the film's hero, Shazam? I'm making a call. My bet is on our alleged Aquaman, Jason Mamoa. There is a considerable lack of evidence of Mamoa being a part of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Taking into account how quickly the news of casting for other roles in the film were announced and confirmed, it stands to reason that there is no real bite to the rumors. Consider Dwayne Johnson's similar vague statements surrounding his talks with DC Entertainment. It seems far more likely that Jason Mamoa's mirrored hesitance to speak surrounds the Shazam! film. I think it would be an inspired casting choice. Mamoa has the build, the likeness, he very nearly matches Dwayne Johnson's height. It would be a perfect match up. Just check out the photo below.