Remember the days when we had fun superhero flicks? Or movies that would see our hero save the day and get the girl just for the sake of heroism? Films like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and the rest of his trilogy come to mind, with their colorful and vibrant images. Films with fun, and sometimes campy, dialogue that would have you rooting for the good guy when the going got tough. But what happened?
In 2005, director Christopher Nolan released Batman Begins, his first installment in his new reboot of the Batman franchise. The film brought grit and seriousness to proceedings, things that the previous, Joel Shummacher versions were lacking. It allowed the characters of Batman to step into the world of reality and allowed the audience to believe that these people could exist in a real world. It also, however caused a ripple effect throughout all of Hollywood. Suddenly, every character and story needed to become grittier and appeal to the fans who liked the new, reinvented Batman. We were given a new, darker Sherlock Holmes, by Guy Ritchie, a new macabre version of Snow White, in Snow White and the Huntsman, and we even felt the need to reboot Spider-Man, before we’d even moved on from the last ones, in order to make it ” more serious”. Now, it’s not that Nolan’s Batman films were in any way bad, in fact they were exactly what Batman needed, and they were absolutely amazing, but it’s ruined the fun of blockbusters because every director has tried to recapture its success.
Superheroes were no longer allowed to be super, they had to be grounded in reality and smoldered with grit. Peter Parker no longer could be a nerd, with zero coordination or luck, or have a scene where he awkwardly tries to figure out how to shoot a web. Instead he became more of a genius hipster, who road a skateboard, prevented the bullying of another kid, and scored Gwen Stacy without any help from his powers, recently in The Amazing Spider-Man. What was wrong with Tobey Maguire’s fun, and quite accurate portrayal of Spidey? Nothing, but do to the mass appeal of Batman Begins, and the even more popular The Dark Knight, Hollywood felt the need to reinvent our friendly neighborhood hero.
What is wrong with allowing superheroes to be super? Isn’t that the point of superheroes, to have a figure to look up to, when your going through rough times, where you can say “I want to be like _______ and be able to save the day, no matter what stands in my way”? Actually, one of the most widely successful comic-book movie adaptation, this years The Avengers, saw a return to the colorful world that other adaptations have been lacking. A world where you still feel the impending doom of the bad guy, but can still have a fun moment where the Hulk, comedically, punches Thor in the middle of the climactic battle or your hero breaks the tension of almost dying by suggesting Shwarma. The point is, that our superheroes shouldn’t always have to be as dark as our caped crusader. Sometimes, it’s nice to take a look into the wonderful world in which our favorite heroes reside, and just get lost in all it’s wonder. Yes, sometimes it is nice to take a step back into reality, as Nolan has showed us, but other times you might like to see movies for other reasons. To step into a world unlike our own, a world slightly more -super.