5 Taking Themselves too Seriously
In many ways, Batman Begins was a game changer. Though I know it will generate a lot of hate (but haters gonna hate regardless), I feel a lot of these changes have made superhero movies worse in the long run. Yes, Batman is a character who lends himself well to psychoanalyzation. Superman is not. When I see superheroes I want them to smash through walls with witty taglines, like “Where I go, I make my own doors.” I don’t want them to get all reclusive because their pansy-ass feelings got hurt. If their feelings are hurt, they should do some aggression therapy on Lex Luthor’s face!
4 Run Length Wankfests
Now, I’m no film professor, but unless it’s Lord of the Rings or Apocalypse Now my attention span peters out after about two hours. So often superhero movies exceed this rule of thumb, merely to accommodate the characters that shouldn’t be included in the first place. If you can’t tell a riveting, action sequence laden slugfest in 120 minutes or less, then maybe it’s time you reevaluated your career path. To further illustrate a point: The first Spider-Man (which has the added task of including an origin story) is just a minute over two hours, while Spider-Man 3 is two hours and twenty minutes long. What was it I said earlier about not needing Sandman? It doesn’t seem like a coincidence.
3 Brainless Damsels
Speaking of unnecessary characters, how about the worthless female characters in almost every superhero movie. Now, I’m not saying anything anti-feminist; on the contrary, I think the damsel in distress archetype should be abolished posthaste. Yet, these characters abound even in good superhero movies. What role does Pepper Potts play in Iron Man? Does she have her own life and goals outside of Tony Stark? Or does she just sit at home making sandwiches while the boys go out to play? Does she have her own ideas? Or just exchange witty repartee and double entandres when Stark feels like talking to her? Come on, girl power!
2 Too Many Villains
Movies in general will tend to loose audiences when they split their focus too much. Superhero movies mainly achieve this by adding too many villains, again, presumably to sell toys. Think of the good superhero movies you’ve seen, and you’ll realize they have a well-defined villain who’s evil enough to wreck shit on his own. Then think about the horrible inclusion of Sandman in Spider-Man 3, who necessitated a background story although he hardly spoke and didn’t do very much. His scenes probably constitute the extra half hour of that drivel-fest where the audience began to feel like hostages. Thomas Hayden-Church is probably spinning in his career’s grave.
Since there’s not a word for this (that I’m aware of), allow me to create one: Sequelization — n. A tactic for marketing a subsequent movie during the franchise’s first installment, usually at the end. A particularly bad instance of this comes after the credits of Green Lantern, when (SPOILER) it’s revealed that Sinestro has acquired the yellow power rings that will lead him to super villainy. EXCEPT YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE ANOTHER ONE BECAUSE THE FIRST ONE WAS AWFUL. It makes the first movie seem like little more than a marketing gimmick to sell children a bunch of action figures of some guy they never heard. (No disrespect to my fellow GL fans, but lets be honest here.)
Though the recent tidal wave of superhero titles into theaters has created new avenues for fanboys to express their love, so far those efforts have been half good and half bad. Especially since the visual style of comics seems so tailor-made for screen adaptation, I hope our director and writer friends realize the error of their ways soon. Like the source material, try to keep it punchy, tight, and action packed instead of overloading it with backstory, psychological “complexity,” and toyetic marketing approaches. If you’ve noticed a downfall of superhero movies that we missed, be sure to let us know.