The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Guest Blogger: Adam Discusses Marvel’s Gambit

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Note:  Adam Vollmers is a long-time friend and one of the original followers of The Seeker.  When I check blog stats, his name is always near the top of those who frequently comment.  Today, he takes another turn at generating content as it relates to film and one of his favorite past times–comic books.

It was almost a year ago that I blasted Marvel’s The Avengers on these pages.  Adam was quick to jump to defending the film and has since engaged me in several conversations about the Marvel universe.  His encyclopedic knowledge of all things Marvel, and comics in general, make him a trusted authority.  My dislike of The Avengers is so intense that it has put me off superhero movies for at least the foreseeable future.  Now, a day into the Iron Man 3 release, is a good time to post what Adam wrote to me a few weeks back regarding what he sees as the future of the Marvel film franchise.  It will take an extraordinary set of circumstances for me to see Iron Man 3, or any future Marvel film, but in that film is a frequent topic of discussion herein, it’s worth time time and effort to post Adam’s thoughts.

Not coincidentally, Cracked.com posted an article last week about how superhero movies are a bubble that will soon burst.  They bring up some excellent points, and the article is probably worth the time to fans of superhero movies and anybody who is interested in following Hollywood trends (especially the trends that show how Hollywood continually reaps its own destruction because of rampant greed, too much money, and over-inflated egos).  Nonetheless, here’s Adam’s conjecture about the next few years in the Marvel universe of films.  ~ Jeff

Iron Man 3 is kicking off the next round of Marvel movies.  Regardless of your feelings on the movie itself, what Disney is attempting to do should prove interesting.  Marvel, as a comic book company, is in the business of writing serial stories.  They’re not writing novels, they’re not writing masterpieces of fiction that will stand the test of time, although there are exceptions.  They are writing soap operas–largely for the young, male audience, but soap operas nonetheless.  It doesn’t matter if the story is largely the same, it doesn’t matter if the villain is largely the same, what matters is continuing to do the things that work to keep their audience happy.

As someone who grew up reading comic books, particularly Marvel, one of my biggest issues with movies such as the original Batman (1989) was that they were designed to be one-offs.  They were written with a more realistic tone where the secret identity is truly difficult to keep from the villain, which led to the natural conclusion that if the hero and family / companions were going to survive, the villain must be dispatched.  In each of the movies, the villain died.  It made for decent movies by providing more drama, but it eliminated the possibility of the serial nature of reusing the villain or building up a narrative.

Flash forward to the current Disney / Marvel properties, starting with Iron Man, wherein they started an overriding story arc.  Each character–Iron Man, the rebooted Hulk, Thor, and Captain America–had his own “adventure;” however, each is also being presented as part of a larger system.  Each movie contained hints as well as an ending that pushed the arc towards its next step, culminating in The Avengers.  Iron Man 3 restarts that arc.  As has been widely covered, Thor 2 and Captain America 2 are also  slated to come out, obviously continuing this second arc.

What has been far less widely reported is the additional story lines that will feed into the arc.  Maybe the information simply isn’t being picked up by reporters who aren’t aware of the back story.  While many liberties have been taken to make the characters and situations work in the movie format and bring viewers who are not familiar with the characters into the loop quickly, the backgrounds have remained consistent with the original backgrounds of the characters.  The villains are the correct villains for the heroes, the motivations are correct, the interactions, serious as well as amusing, have been captured in a way that reflects the source material.  It was clear to me when I saw The Avengers that director Joss Whedon is a fan of comic books.  The movie had the correct “feel” for the source material.  This was a concern from the fans, and most of us were not disappointed.

The point is that at the end of The Avengers, there was a cameo by the next major villain:  Thanos.  Thanos was originally seen in the Iron Man comic book series with additional appearances in a number of comics, but he is not considered an Iron Man villain.  Personally, I was wondering how they were going to introduce him, as I felt they would have to introduce him much like they introduced Loki, which means through Thor and the cosmic cube through Captain America.  Have you heard of The Guardians of the Galaxy?  If not, you will.  They are fairly minor characters, and to be honest, I was stunned that a movie is going to be made with them.  However, they re really just serving as a vehicle to introduce Thanos.  The movie may be decent, it may be terrible, but at the end its purpose is to advance the arc.  And that’s what’s interesting to me.  Disney has the money and the ability to plan a long-range movie serial project, and that’s what they appear to be doing.  Don’t get me wrong–movie studios are a business, and they have every intention of making money, but unlike many businesses, they have the luxury of being able to survive a bad quarter.  They can afford to invest in what is essentially story infrastructure, as well as being aware that  a movie that does poorly domestically may still make money internationally, through DVD sales, and licensing.  How many people are going to be watching the first two Iron Man movies as a warm-up to the new release?  That’s the long game that they are able to play.  The problem they are likely to have is saturation, which appears to be solved in case of the Marvel properties by rotating them instead of doing them all in a row.

Along with The Guardians of the Galaxy, another movie has been confirmed:  Ant-Man.  Far moreso than the Guardians, the character of Henry Pym (Ant-Man) is strongly tied to The Avengers.  He and his wife were part of the original Avengers, not Captain America, Hawkeye, or The Black Widow.  Like the Guardians, he is still a fairly minor character to most people, and more importantly for the sake of the movie, he’s not a very interesting character (until he goes insane as Yellow Jacket, a completely unrelated point).  What the character is known for is introducing two other major characters:  The Wasp (Ant-Man’s wife), and Ultron, a robot Pym creates that ultimately becomes one of The Avengers’ greatest foes.  And that, I believe, is the purpose of the movie.  For the record, I believe the villain for Avengers 3 will be Ultron.  It’s the long game that Disney is playing. It’s going to be interesting watching it unfold.

Let’s hope Adam is spot-on with his predictions.  Some troublesome questions remain:  If the Cracked article is correct in its prediction about what they see as the inevitable demise of superhero movies, can Disney crank out all of these films  before the market bottoms out?  Or will Disney cause the market to falter?

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Written by seeker70

May 4, 2013 at 10:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Not to complain, but that link is showing up as unavailable.  Not sure why

     

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    Adam D. Vollmers

    May 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm


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