It’s All Relative
by Alice Morgan
Marvel has enjoyed an obscene amount of success since the release of Iron Man (2008). They found themselves a genre and ran with it. They noted what people liked and disliked and using that information crafted a formula that — with some ups and downs — worked for them for almost a decade, making not one or two successful movies, but trilogies upon trilogies; an all encompassing universe. I don’t blindly consume everything Marvel, nor can I subscribe to everything they do, but what they achieved is kind of incredible.
Unfortunately, their success came with the side effect of everybody wanting to copy them, ushering in the era
of cinematic universe building.
DC always leaned towards the more realistic, dark and gritty interpretation of its heroes, while Marvel embraced comedy adventures with a dash of color. There is no right or wrong with either of these approaches. Both can be done right with the only difference being the viewer’s preference, and yet more often than not DC seems to fall short. But why?
DC failed at making their most iconic characters likeable. Superman is suffering from a severe existential crisis and chronic depression, Batman can use guns and murder with no regard to human life and Lex Luthor has hair. It’s madness.
When you are throwing millions — if not billions — of dollars around, mediocrity is not going to cut it. After making four feature length films that didn’t perform that well I can only imagine the pressure. This desperation became apparent in Suicide Squad. DC was trying so hard to be Marvel. A complete visual overhaul with 100% neon lights and one Harley Quinn added into the mix. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the problem and the movie flopped, proving yet again that you can’t fix a shallow, boring and confusing story with eye candy. Well, the real lesson here is that you should respect your viewers more, but I digress.
So, here we are again with Wonder Woman. Most people seem to love it and there are positive reviews all around. I will give it about one and a half months before all the negative reviews start to come in. First it will be something about the movie being feminist propaganda. Then you will see YouTube videos such as “Is it really as good as we first thought?” implying that somehow we were tricked into liking it and similar kind of nonsense. Regardless, the biggest driving factor behind these comments will be the comparison between Wonder Woman and Captain America. How different are they? I haven’t seen it yet, so all I can comment on is what I have seen from the trailers and it looks like DC finally learned how to make a good Marvel movie. Yay? Was that the goal all along? Is this the endgame everybody was waiting for? I wouldn’t say it’s wrong, but rather ironic, don’t you think?
Besides Wonder Woman we have another movie franchise competing for the spotlight.
So, a quick recap. On May 22, 2017 Universal Pictures announced that they will be bringing beloved classic monster characters to the big screen. They also revealed that this extended universe is going to be called the “Dark Universe”. The first movie in the Dark Universe series is The Mummy, which is now released and ready to be seen in theaters near you. Below you can watch the Dark Universe announcement trailer and the trailer for The Mummy.
Now, even by just watching the trailers above you can tell that something is not right here. It doesn’t really feel like this new incarnation of The Mummy has anything to do with the classic monster movie at all. Where is the suspense? Where is the horror? Where is the connection? I was actually so confused at first, I thought they are remaking the 1999 action-adventure
starring Brendan Fraser.
So, I went ahead and checked the official announcement on the official Dark Universe website, where I made an interesting discovery. I want you to read it carefully with special care regarding the highlights.
Now, what did we learn from this? We learned more from what is not in the announcement than from what’s in it. For example, it doesn’t state anywhere that:
a. it is going to be a horror movie (or has anything to do with horror in general)
b. it is going to be a reboot
That’s right. Even though Universal heavily relied on footage from the original movies in their reveal trailer, making us believe that the focus of the new movie is going to be similar, it’s never actually stated anywhere what type of movie it is going to be. When they say “reviving the studio’s classic monster characters”, that’s all they mean. They focus on the characters. They are talking about “relaunching Universal’s iconic characters into modern cinema.” They had no intention of making a horror movie. Ever. It’s not profitable. It’s not safe. Assuming that you, my dear reader, enjoy horrors and thrillers, when was the last time you actually saw a good horror movie? Maybe The Babadook? Split? Get Out? Let’s face it, horror movies — with a few respectable exceptions — are a joke. The most enjoyment you get out of them is when your favorite YouTubers review them on their channel. Definitely not blockbuster material.
All Universal wanted from the beginning is the characters. They wanted the name recognition because making a movie is a gamble and having characters that the audience already know and love reduces the amount of that gamble. But, man, what a shame it is.
I was really excited for this project and it was partially because of the abundance of super hero movies we have the pleasure to enjoy these days, and I do enjoy them! On the other hand, it’s getting a bit too much. I was ready for a new experience, I would have welcomed the darkness, the chills, and the shivers down my spine and I think a lot of people feel the same way. Maybe Dark Universe wouldn’t have been as much of a gamble as they thought it is. People are ready for something new, if only they had committed. Instead, we got another Marvel-wannabe, action-adventure-fantasy-comedy thing.
The biggest issue with all of this is when you focus your entire marketing campaign on the fact that you are bringing classic horror monsters to life, that’s what people are going to expect. When people want to see the Bride of Frankenstein, they don’t expect a romantic comedy. This is part of the reason why the movie is doing so poorly. Oh, if you are wondering, Bride of Frankenstein will be the next in the Dark Universe series so…
Prepare for Bride of Frankenstein, 2019 the romantic-comedy-fantasy-adventure!
Now one of the coolest thing about this project is how they are planning to connect all the movies. Now, of course I only know about this because I have read the announcement. It was really thoughtful to put it in the last paragraph where no one would read it 😀 I mean it’s not like this is an integral part of the cinematic universe you are trying to build.
I’m of course conscious of the fact that I’m doing the same thing and if you have read this far, consider this your reward.
So, if you click that link below you can check out what Prodigium is up to these days.
As all great websites, it will automatically start playing a video, so mind your headphones. After the video is done playing you can click on the tiny camera in the bottom right corner to look around, etc. It’s pretty neat, except mind your headphones again.
(No, I don’t know either why they decided to make it look like gameplay footage from 10 years ago.)
PS: “Why is the Bride of Frankenstein being released before Frankenstein?” asked the voice of reason skeptically.
PSS: some pins
PSSS: Honestly, if you read this far you are golden. Go on now, I don’t want to hold you back anymore. The cure for cancer ain’t gonna find itself. Also, don’t forget to call your mom.