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Deadpool 2 Is About The Problem With Fandom (Spoilers)

The first Deadpool was a parody of the superhero genre, and so is Deadpool 2 in a lot of ways. But watching the movie recently, I came away with the conclusion that this sequel is more about the superhero genre’s fans, lampooning us and our expectations going into these summer franchise flicks.

To explain this, I took to my trusty YouTube Channel Jon In Theory the other day and rambled into a microphone. It’s not the shortest video, but hopefully some of you will find it interesting. This is less of a review and more of a spoiler analysis from the perspective of someone a bit mixed on the film.

Go on…Deadpool 2 Is About The Problem With Fandom (Spoilers)

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Marvel Has Been Successful Because It’s Better at Being Different

marvel better different

Until the end of the “superhero golden era” finally comes, we won’t be able to analyze the full impact that Marvel Studios has had with its cinematic universe of movies. But even though we don’t have the full picture at our disposal, everyone has their own reasonable guess for how and why Marvel been the dominant superhero movie franchise for nearly a decade, in terms of both critical and fan reception.

Some of the effects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are quite obvious, and I think that’s why vague observations about Marvel Studios are tossed around by its naysayers. When you think of shared universe movies — that is, movies that share the same characters and other sandbox elements without being direct sequels — you might feel the urge to groan a bit, especially if you watch and keep up with a lot of different movie franchises that all strive to replicate what Marvel did so well with Iron Man in 2008.

Sony tried to kickstart a Spider-Man shared universe of villains and ultimately failed. Universal has long been planning a shared universe of monster movies, citing they could have the “Avengers” of Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, and more. Even a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe is reportedly in the works, planned to kick off with a new Scooby Doo movie. And this year’s Ghostbusters ends with a universe-setting teaser straight out of the ambiguously defined Marvel formula.

Marvel’s most direct rival, and for several obvious, yet key reasons, is DC Comics, which Warner Bros. owns the exclusive rights to. After a hugely successful trilogy of Batman movies, all helmed by Christopher Nolan and universally praised by fans and critics, Warner Bros. took the next logical step toward establishing a shared universe of their own that could do for Wonder Woman and the Flash what Marvel managed for Iron Man and Captain America, just to name a few.

marvel better different

Remember, just one year after Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. released Man of Steel, the perfunctory beginning of what was meant to be something completely different compared to anything put out by Marvel Studios.

Except, well, Marvel has already  been “different” by its own standards for years, and it’s found great success doing so, while DC Comics hasn’t. At least not on the same scale.

To be fair, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were not financial failures, but they did fail to live up to their profitable potential, making less money domestically than Deadpool, which is based on a character far less popular and recognizable than Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And even more recently, Suicide Squad has been panned by critics for sharing a lot of the same flaws of these movies, though it will still open to huge box office numbers, regardless.

What’s odd, then, is that the films have been criticized by many for being too different, using phrases like joyless and dark to color a picture of a movie that doesn’t deliver the same experience viewers got with most of the Marvel movies.

marvel better different

Supporters of these DC Comics movies have a right to call out this opinion for being intellectually dishonest. Of course a movie like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is different, they say. If it were the same formula as a movie like The Avengers, then critics would complain just as feverishly.

Both sides of this argument have it wrong, then. Because what they both forget is that while there is a bare-bones formula to the Marvel movies that makes them feel cohesive — that is, it’s easy to believe the movies exist in the same universe at all — none of them are all that similar to any of the others in just about every other way, unless the movie is a sequel, and even then, Marvel movies have a habit of changing entire subgenres in between their sequels.

One of the best and most famous examples of Marvel being “different” involves the entirety of what sets up the first Avengers movie, which serendipitously released the same year as The Dark Knight Rises. The very concept of setting up an ensemble superhero film after several standalone pictures that establish the characters was brand new at the time and, more importantly, untested.

Yet The Avengers is the highest-grossing superhero film of all time and was universally acclaimed by moviegoers, which holds up even today.

marvel better different

It’s fair to judge Marvel for being good at being different based on the fact that people loved The Avengers, despite how risky the structure of it was, and because it provided a sizable return on investment both financially and even culturally, hence we’re even having this debate about superhero movies being different.

What’s even more interesting, though, is the fact that Marvel movies have continued to be different and surprising, even though they have a proven formula they could repeat on end to minimize the risk of failure.

For example, the Marvel films that have truly defied expectations include Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, arnhich were both proven hits for the studio, despite being completely different from any other Marvel film in tone, structure, and many other crucial elements.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an action comedy set in space, and most of its characters aren’t even human. That’s a far cry from any other comic book film, period, let alone Marvel movies like Iron Man and even Thor. The premise of Ant-Man is absurd enough, despite the movie actually taking place on Earth. Yet it feels so different as a superhero movie because first and foremost, it’s really a heist film with bits of Edgar Wright’s unique editing style thrown in.

marvel better different

The upcoming Doctor Strange, set to release this November, is also a movie that — judging by the marketing and previous knowledge of the character — looks and feels different from previous Marvel offerings, because it seems to be tackling unchartered territory in terms of fantasy elements and dimensional science for the hero of that movie to experience.

These movies, excluding the as of yet unseen Doctor Strange, have been hits with both critics and casual audiences because yes, they’re different. So it’s strange, then, when both critics and naysayers of Marvel movies speak as if this cinematic universe has a firm license on vague storytelling elements, like humor and quipping. There’s a desire for DC to be the other side of the coin, different and more progressive than what might be called a mainstream superhero franchise with Marvel.

The problem with that desire, though, is that Marvel has already been the other side of that coin, and the other side of many coins that they, themselves, have inserted into the zeitgeist of superhero films. They don’t always get it right, of course, and some of their risks have been paid off better than others, but if DC should take notes on being “different” for the sake of surprising and delighting its fans, it should really be paying more attention to Marvel. Not less.

Because being different, while a good start, is not a merit on its own. Fantastic Four was different, which we can all agree on. But that definitely didn’t improve what was inherently flawed with that film. A non-Marvel movie that’s great at being different is Deadpool, made by Fox, proving that a superhero film doesn’t have to be made by Disney in order for it to be beloved by just about everyone old enough to see it.

marvel better different

I still have high hopes for DC Comics moving forward, though not nearly as high as I used to three years ago. But if you’re reading this and feeling a bit alienated because you want DC Comics and Warner Bros. to keep taking risks and producing films with these iconic characters that demand to be different from what we’ve seen before, then you can definitely take solace in one, major thing: The DC Comics movie universe under Geoff Johns — their new Chief Creative Officer and co-developer of The Flash on CW — kicks off next year with Wonder Woman.

And from what we’ve seen so far of that movie, the future could still be quite bright (not dark) for DC Comics.


I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Review: ‘The Witch’ is an Unsettling Folk Tale Worth Talking About

the witch review

The Witch forces those who watch it to think deeply about what it all means. And many people will bicker over which conclusion they think their fellow moviegoers should arrive at after seeing it.

Luckily, my favorite thing about The Witch is how exciting it is to talk about it, and there’s much to discuss. Set many years before the infamous Salem Witch Trials, The Witch takes place in 1600s New England, as a budding family is banished from their Puritan plantation and forced to build a farm in the wilderness from the ground up (literally).

These devout Christians, led by patriarch William (Ralph Ineson), are strictly religious with their five children, especially when one goes missing early on. Haunted by a “witch of the wood,” and perhaps each other, the dysfunctional family experiences a haunting unlike most offerings you’d expect from the horror genre.

For one thing, there’s little left to the imagination when it comes to the film’s own paranormal threats, and it crosses disturbing territory that will be hard to watch for some casual horror fans. But they’ll certainly delight in the artistically frightening ambience of the crisp pilgrim farm, a ghastly soundtrack on par with It Follows, and beautiful scenery.

the witch review

What’s more interesting, however, is the film’s message, as well as all of the unique takeaways that will come from moviegoers of differing ideologies. Satanists have already praised this movie for coming across as “pro-witchcraft” due to the way the film ends, while theologists simultaneously praise the film for addressing the true dangers of said witchcraft.

For newcomer writer and director, Robert Eggers, that’s quite the achievement, as he claims in the credits to have based much of the dialogue and story on a collection of true events. And he manages to also bring out revelatory performances out of his child actors, of whom I’ll single out Anya Taylor-Joy and Harvey Scrimshaw.

Is it a cautionary tale about the demonic forces hidden from our sight? Or is it instead criticizing religious overreach, and how it can be the origin of the very darkness they fear? Some will argue it’s a little of both, and balance is truly the virtue we can derive from The Witch. I doubt there needs to be a right answer.

The Witch gets a B

It’s a good horror film with great performances and pleasant scenery. Its scariest moments will bring on disturbing nightmares and provoke the right kinds of conversations, but The Witch suffers a bit from an over-indulgence of shock value that will alienate more people than it will engage.

A lot of people will like this movie, especially hardcore horror fans. But if you don’t care much for scary movies or even this subject material (akin to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible), then The Witch probably won’t change your mind.

 

Review: ‘Deadpool’ Is Fantastic at a Few Things

deadpool review

The makers of Deadpool had a tall order on their hands.

A beloved comic-book antihero conceived in the early 90s, Deadpool has collected a legion of fans for a list of specific, stringent reasons. Failing to capture the exact spirit of the character would land Fox in a repeat of X-Men Origins: Wolverine history, when they first tried to fit the merc on the big screen.

But Deadpool also had to be a movie. Which means Fox had to work hard for the affections of Deadpool fans…and everyone else. And in a lot of ways, Deadpool more or less pulls this off with some creative humor and storytelling.

The film stars Ryan Reynolds, again playing Wade Wilson in a new origin story for the same character he played in Origins (sort of). After finding out he has terminal cancer, Wade leaves the love of his life, Vanessa (played by Gotham‘s Morena Baccarin), and tries to find a cure.

A group of scientists, led by “Ajax” (Ed Skrein from last year’s Transporter Refueled), manage to save Wade’s life, but they give him mutant abilities in the process. The procedure viciously scars Wade in more ways than one, setting him off on a mission to track Ajax down using his new abilities as the assassin, “Deadpool.”

deadpool review

If this sounds like a straightforward superhero movie, then I’m doing a decent job of preserving a lot of the jokes and humor that comprise Deadpool. Going into too much detail surrounding the plot and how certain scenes are set up would probably ruin a lot of the laughs you would otherwise have in the theater.

Because as you’ll realize within the first ten seconds of the film, Deadpool is absolutely a post-modern comedy. More than that, it’s a satire of superhero movies, much like how the original comic was a satire of the macho, violent 90s comics Wade Wilson was created to mock.

This is as funny as it is poignant, considering what it took to greenlight a feature film for a character most people have never heard of. And fans of superhero movies will likely consider Deadpool to be one of the best offerings in the superhero genre in years.

But Deadpool also provides an appeal that casual fans of the genre can appreciate, thanks mostly to Reynolds’ performance. His quick delivery lands more jokes than I think anyone else in the business could pull off, and his likability keeps the plot “moving forward” as you’ll discover.

deadpool review

Violence is also a hallmark of the Deadpool franchise, and Fox didn’t hold back at all this time. Deadpool belongs to a small club of R-rated superhero films, and the rating is spot on. There’s plenty of gore and grisly mayhem to justify the restriction, but that’s all part of what makes the source material so endearing. While it’s not as on the nose as the comics trying to spoof the 90s, the gratuitous violence certainly feels welcome in a genre stuffed with sanitized action and fake-out deaths.

What’s more impressive than the violence, however, is how competently Deadpool is shot as an action film. While parts of the origin story drag for a bit before getting back into the action, what we do get in these scenes is typically worth the wait.

The camera cuts at just the right moments when you want to feel the pain of a character’s head getting smashed against a wall, and impressive stunt work and effects make for an immersive comic-book movie on par with some of the best ever made.

You’d have to be pretty demanding to expect anything more from a movie that is as well-made as Deadpool, but there are enough issues to remember that Fox is just getting started.

deadpool review

The movie is overflowing with a surprising amount of faithfulness to the source material, and it’s fairly inventive. But it’s also generic, anyway. Underneath all of the delight you’ll get from well-written, self-aware humor is masked by an origin story that feels by-the-numbers and formulaic—a stark contrast to the risky business displayed by everything else in the movie, from the side characters to the soundtrack.

Perhaps this was necessary in order for Fox to ensure that there can, in fact, be a superhero movie for people who are sick of them. But for everyone else who can’t stomach the genre, Deadpool won’t do much to entertain them.

I’m going to give Deadpool a B+

If you like superhero movies, X-Men or otherwise, you’ll find a lot to love in Deadpool. Otherwise, you may find a lot of the humor flat and uninteresting. It would be a must-see for the action and Reynolds alone if only it didn’t fall back on so many origin story cliches it could have easily sidestepped.

Did you like Deadpool? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

The Best Times To Listen To Music – According to Genre

Each Jonre is different. Sorry, genre. Certain types of music (genres again) are best to listen to in the morning, at night, and even when you’re driving.

In other words, your mood is heavily influenced by the time of day, music heavily influences your mood, so picking the right music for the time of day is probably important. Here’s my personal list according to decade, artist, and genre (They don’t necessarily relate with each other).

music

Early Morning (6am to 9am): 

Best Decade: 60’s Music

Best Artist: Chopin

Best Genre: Soft Rock

 

Mid Morning (9am to Noon):

Best Decade: 2000’s

Best Artist: Ben Folds

Best Genre: Punk

 

Lunchtime:

Best Decade: 80’s Music

Best Artist: OneRepublic

Best Genre: Pop

 

Afternoon (1pm to 5pm):

Best Decade: 70’s Music

Best Artist: Decembrists

Best Genre: Rock

 

Evening (5pm to 8pm):

Best Decade: 90’s Music

Best Artist: Adele

Best Genre: Folk

 

Late Evening (8pm to Midnight):

Best Decade: 2010’s

Best Artist: Mumford and Sons

Best Genre: Hip-Hop

 

You Should Really Be Sleeping at this Point:

Best Decade: 20’s, 40’s, and 50’s

Best Artist: Fun.

Best Genre: Jazz

Agree? Disagree? Hate me? Well, instead of all that, just add your own suggestions!

Thanks for reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

 

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