‘Avengers’ Voted ‘Most Overrated Movie of 2012′; Cronenberg on Comic Films: Not High Art

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The Avengers Overrated Movie Avengers Voted Most Overrated Movie of 2012; Cronenberg on Comic Films: Not High Art

Both Marvel and DC saw superhero success at the 2012 box office – with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises raking in $1.5 billion  and $1.08 billion worldwide respectively. Moviegoers young and old turned out in droves to see Joss Whedon’s Avengers team-up movie and, two months later, Christopher Nolan’s trilogy-ending showdown between Batman and Bane – with many fans returning for second, third, and fourth viewings of the high profile comic book offerings. Buzz for both films was overwhelmingly positive, causing many industry insiders to debate whether or not either mainstream comic book adaptation might see a “Best Picture” nomination from The Academy (or, at the very least, similar award shows offerings). After all, we are living in a world where Heath Ledger won an Oscar for portraying the Clown Prince of Crime.

Still, it doesn’t sound as though everyone is basking in the summer 2012 comic book movie afterglow – as a new online poll overwhelmingly dubbed Avengers the “Most Overrated Movie of 2012″ while fan-favorite director David Cronenberg clarified controversial comments about Nolan’s Batman trilogy and subsequently asserted that comic book films are “incredibly limited.”

Big box office dollars do not always equate to quality filmmaking – so it’s fair to criticize even the most successful films for being “overrated” or “creatively limited.” However, a more likely explanation for the discrepancy is a subjective definition of what makes a “good” movie. It’s a debate that we see a lot in the comments here at Screen Rant, the difference between “artistry” and “entertainment” – where some moviegoers might consider Avengers to be the most enjoyable film experience of 2012 despite falling short of the “artistic integrity” of “sophisticated” films like Lincoln and Argo.

Let’s start with those Los Angeles Times online poll results for “The Most Overrated Movie of 2012″:

  • The Avengers – 85.39%
  • Prometheus – 4.62%
  • Ted – 3.03%
  • Cloud Atlas – 2.38%
  • The Master – 1.78%
  • Project X – 1.78%
  • Brave – 1.02%

Admittedly, sample size and respondent demographics are not shown – making it impossible to know whether or not the poll (which has since been closed) is statistically significant. Online polls are hardly the most reliable form of sampling but the discrepancy between The Avengers and second place Prometheus, is certainly striking. As a result, the gap could be largely due to expectations – especially after the film enjoyed the biggest opening of all time.

Still, despite numerous fun moments and eye-popping visuals, there were moviegoers who sat down for the Marvel mash-up film and felt overwhelmed by the amount of alienating shared universe story material (had they missed any of the Phase One tie-ins) and, taking off our rose-tinted 2012 glasses, The Avengers (like The Dark Knight Rises) also saw its share of plot holes and underdeveloped side-elements. Still, looking at the numbers, it’s hard to avoid the sense that some casual moviegoers who had initially been Avengers-crazy have cooled on the film since its May debut.

Frankly, considering the persistent (and vocal) backlash surrounding Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe (read our review), we’d have expected Prometheus (love it or hate it) to have snagged a much higher percentage of the poll.

Prometheus Directors Cut Refused Original Script Avengers Voted Most Overrated Movie of 2012; Cronenberg on Comic Films: Not High Art

Maybe the discrepancy isn’t so much the quality of The Avengers film but the limitations of its source material? Is it possible that even the most successful comic book movie of all time, for many moviegoers, is still only going to be considered an average-quality film overall? That seems to be the foundation of David Cronenberg’s argument that comic book movies have “limited” creative and artistic potential.

As mentioned, in a Playlist interview Cronenberg first contextualizes some controversial comments he previously made about Nolan’s Batman films but goes on to assert that, even though the comic book adaptation genre has seen some unique and creative work, it’s held-back from being “the highest level of cinematic art” by adolescent-inspired source material:

“What I was saying was that a comic book movie is really a comic book movie. Comic books were — especially those comic books which I was raised on (I loved Captain Marvel) — created for adolescents and they have a core that is adolescent […] To me, that limits the discourse of your movie if you’re basing it accurately on that, and you cannot rise to the highest level of cinematic art. That’s my take on it. I went on to say that, of course, technically they can be incredibly interesting, since there are very clever people making the movie and of course have a lot of money they are throwing at it. But creatively, artistically, they are incredibly limited.”

Few people will claim that Avengers is “the highest level of cinematic art” but, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times poll, Cronenberg’s generalization about “limited” discourse in the larger comic book movie genre (not to mention its future potential) draws interesting parallels. Many fans will first dispute Cronenberg’s argument by pointing to the fact that his critically-acclaimed 2005 film, A History of Violence, was adapted from John Wagner and Vince Locke’s 1997 graphic novel of the same name – meaning that the director’s point “comic books were created for adolescents” is an argument over the blurry line between “comic book” and “graphic novel” semantics. As a result, it’s possible, if Cronenberg was challenged with a less-campy set of comic book reading material (i.e. NOT Captain Marvel), he might also discover there’s room for other (and more mature) discourses in the genre.

Banes Mask in The Dark Knight Rises Avengers Voted Most Overrated Movie of 2012; Cronenberg on Comic Films: Not High Art

Nevertheless, the combination of the Los Angeles Times poll and Cronenberg’s comments paint a similar picture – for now, at least, moviegoers and filmmakers seem content to shell out box office revenue and understated praise for the comic book movie genre but, at the same time, will not actually champion the integrity or overall quality of the subsequent superhero content. 2013 isn’t likely to change a lot of minds either: Superman (Man of Steel), Iron Man (Iron Man 3), Wolverine (The Wolverine), and Thor (Thor: The Dark World), while among our most-anticipated films, are some of the more over-the-top or super-powered characters in the current genre landscape – i.e. unlikely to deliver the perfect blend of epic and emotionally impactful character moments that will silence proponents of the “comic book movies cannot be art” perspective.

Let us know what you think of the comic book movie “quality” debate in the comments as well as vote in our recreated Los Angeles Times‘ “Most Overrated Movie of 2012″ poll below. NOTE: We used the same choices as the LA Times poll for the sake of comparison (meaning that the Screen Rant writers and editors don’t necessarily agree with the assembled Times choices):

[poll id=”492″]

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on comic book films as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Sources: Los Angeles TimesThe Playlist

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
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  1. I have to vote Ted as most overrated movie. Did not enjoy that one. :(

    But like other people have been saying I think Avengers is having a bit of the Titanic and Avatar syndrome. There are fair criticisms but there’s plenty of people who will hate it just because of its popularity.

  2. Does anyone else think that the expression “over rated” is entirely meaningless?

    I do.

    I don’t think Dark Knight Rises was awful. I don’t think it was brilliant film-making either. I have my reasons. Does that mean that I think DKR is “over rated” and that my opinion should be more important that that of those who truly enjoyed the film?

    I thoroughly enjoyed The Avengers. I watched it as entertainment. There was no pretense about it. Why would anyone think of saying it is “over rated”? You mean “a lot of people really enjoyed, but *I* didn’t, therefore it is over-rated”?

    I think that’s horsepucky.

    Most of the people who speak that way don’t even know anything about cinema.

    • “Most of the people who speak that way don’t even know anything about cinema.”

      *whisper* Screenrant started it! *whisper*

    • Overrated is overrated

  3. over rated? commonn avengers was awesome!!!

  4. While I love the Avengers I do recognize the film has both strengths and weaknesses just as any other film. The film was overwhelmingly entertaining during the midnight release and perhaps the atmosphere in the theater with the audience laughing and hollering only elevated that feeling, but after multiple viewings the film does lose the impact of surprise. The film is an entertaining popcorn blockbuster all the way. Does that detract the film in anyway? Depends on who you ask. To say the film is the best film of the year, I personally do not think so. The plot is weak in spots and sometimes sacrifice dramatic quality for comedy that loses it’s effect over time. By the third act the film was trying to build up the drama and stakes a little too late and the catharsis was not enough. But the film does succeed in the interpersonal character relationships and team dynamics in which other films of the genre fail at. At the end of the day what makes the Avengers great was not the action or comedy but the characters and their relationship to one another.

    The Avengers was constrained and held back from reaching it’s potential as an epic. But no for the reasons believed by the individual in the article. it was not the source material but rather the constraint placed on the film by the Marvel Studio. They opted a route that was safer and that embraced the tropes and cliches of the genre. What elevated the film was the ever talented Joss Whedon and the actors. A look at the deleted scenes points to a different direction the film Shedding envisioned the film: one which marries character drama and fun to a greater degree. it’s the not the best film of the year without any mistake, it’s just a simple popcorn flick. In that sense it can be considered overrated

  5. Judging by the list, Avengers probably won on name recognition alone. I mean, Cloud Atlas? The Master? Nobody rational would put box office bombs on a “most overrated” list…

    • That is just what I was thinking more people have heard of the avengers many of those movies were barely seen…

  6. Judging by the list, Avengers probably won on name recognition alone. I mean, Cloud Atlas? The Master? Nobody rational would put box office bombs on a “most overrated” list.

  7. Judging by the list, Avengers probably won on name recognition alone. I mean, Cloud Atlas? The Master? Nobody rational would put box office bombs on a Most Overrated list.

  8. Judging by the list, Avengers probably won on name recognition alone, because nobody rational would put box office bombs on a Most Overrated list.

  9. Judging by the list, Avengers probably won on name recognition alone.

  10. What a crap list. Who puts box office bombs on a Most Overrated list?

  11. What the what? Crappy mobile site says my posts fail, so I repost them, then I look nuts when half a dozen posts show up… Weird.

    • same here. That’s why I only post once, even if it says there was a problem posting it. The comment will still be posted.

  12. This is an absurdly biased list. The Avengers vs. a bunch of niche movies? The Avengers is the only one which huge numbers of people saw, so of course more people thought it overrated. If they had put TDKR on the list too, now THAT would have been interesting- I’ll bet ol’ Debbie Downer Knight would have won “most overrated” handily over Avengers. Odd that was not a choice. Literally NO ONE watched The Master- it made 15M- to have it on the same list as Avengers is laughable.

  13. Why is everyone over analyzing “The Avengers” calling it empty and dumb, but no one is over analyzing “The Dark Knight Rises” calling it smart and epic. I thought while the Avengers was not the smartest movie, it wasnt trying to be. It was a solid and fun movie. “The Dark Knight Rises” on the otherhand did try to be a smart movie and fell flat on its face. It had more plot holes than an M. Night Shayamalan movie. Yes it was visually stunning and had good performances, but so was “The Avengers”, so why is one movie called dumb for being honest and another smart for a half-assed try

    • Agreed. “The Avengers” was great fun, but like most films, has it’s own faults. However, if anyone dares mention that TDKR wasn’t really all that great. Or that it has plot holes, bad fight scenes etc… you get branded as dumb, not understanding the vision or a troll.

      TDKR isn’t untouchable. People are allowed to be disappointed with it, hate it, think it is just okay, just as much as love it beyond reason.

      TDKR is a good film, but it is far from perfect.

  14. Nolan fans swamp LA Times poll due to bitterness that Dark Knight Rises was inferior to Avengers. This is a none news item, especially since several of their choice were not in any way over rated…this includes Prometheus since even the early buzz hinted that the movie was far below expectations. Ted and Project X were surprise hits with low initial expectations. The same can be said for the Avengers since many movie pundits did not believe such an enterprise could be carried off, especially with Whedon at the helm. Cloud Atlas pretty much bombed and The Master is an art house flick that the public at large has little seen. This leaves, from the list at least, Brave. Brave, like most Pixar movies was overrated, but not to the degree that Up and Wall-E were. If the LA Times really understood what overrated meant they would have included Les Mis, Django and most importantly, Dark Knight Rises. DKR is by far the most overrated film as it was highly anticipated, well rated, made a lot of money…and yet hindsight reveals that it was both flawed and boring. This makes it by far the most overrated movie of the year.

  15. I’m just gonna say it, ’cause we’re all thinking it:
    this guy sounds like some hipster/arthouse snob

  16. Why isn’t TDKR on this list. I know so many people that were totally let down by that movie. TDKR and Prometheus where the movies that really dropped the ball(as far as expectations) this year. Avengers delivered exactly what it set out to deliver.

  17. Dark Knight Rises was the most “Overrated Movie of 2012″ IMO

  18. I agree with the majority of the comments that the most overrated movie of 2012 is easily The Dark Knight Rises. Not saying that it wasn’t an awesome movie, because it is. However, it isn’t cinematic gold. Nor is The Avengers. The difference is that I don’t hear people saying The Avengers is a perfect film the way that some people claim TDKR is.

    Not only that, but when I walked out the theater after seeing TDKR I was a little disappointed. Whereas, when I walked out of the theater after The Avengers, I was ready to turn right back around and see again. So,

    • Agreed, Dark Knight Rises is the most overrated film. Notice there isnt a Dark Knight Rises on that poll. Seems like nothing but DC fans working at the site. And who know probably just a couple people voted

    • Agreed.

  19. Overrated is about the comparison of popularity/approval to actual quality (such as the latter can be measured…ha). Since the Avengers was the most popular film in the language of money, it has the biggest reputation to live up to. While it wasn’t perfect, it was pretty good. I voted for Brave above, because I felt that it was not very good. Actually, for me Skyfall is probably the most overrated.

  20. Tssh. Dark Knight rises is overrated

  21. Also, some people say the jokes in The Avengers detracts from it. I actually feel that the humor is one of the standouts of the movie. Besides, The Dark Knight Rises as it’s humorous moments as well.

  22. Take every movie that David Cronenberg has ever directed, produced or starred in, add up the total worldwide box office takings, and the result will be less than the total worldwide takings of either Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises in their first week.

    Comic book movies are entertaining to people of all ages. Movies do not always have to make a statement, sometimes they just need to allow viewers to forgot about their lives for 2 hours, and walk away feeling satisfied.

  23. Who cares about David Cronenberg anyway? I don’t consider anything that he has done to be high art. What his movies ARE in fact are pretentious, self-assuming, and self-anointed faux (pieces of crap) masterpieces that really just tell the story of someone who is just too high to be making movies.

    Some movies are meant to be enjoyed. Others are meant to be confusing, puzzling, and down right stupid. The idea that Cronenberg is “smarter” than his audience, or that he produces work that “people just don’t understand”, is exactly the reason that people like David Lynch will go out of their way to poke fun at people just like him. Lynch does things in his movies simply to be bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. Even he would admit that there is no real meaning in half of the absurdity that he puts on the screen.

    Some people are too confused to make real “high art”. Cronenberg is one of them. He’s a pretentious self absorbed hack who’s specialty is being quirky, weird, and disturbingly-un-disturbing. There is nothing artistic about being a poser, and poser he is. He’s better at being David Cronenberg than being anything else. This most certainly doesn’t mean that he can make movies that are worth anything accept to himself and his cult following. It just means that he is full of himself because no one else wants to be.

    So basically to sum up my screed, who cares what David Cronenberg thinks about anything. He needs to get more fun out of life and stop being a weirdo. I will hand it to him for one reason. He is exactly the type of film maker that gives the industry reasons to have Quentin Tarantinos, David Lynches, John Walters, and other maverick film makers who make fun of pretentious “filmmakers” give high “cinematic art” the bird that it deserves.

    Thanks Cronenberg for being a pretentious nobody. The world needs more of you to make fun of. Keep up with your ridiculous and meaningless observations about the movies, life, and what real “high brow art” is. We are so glad that you are around to tell what is what. We don’t know what we would do without your opinion. Keep up with the yuk, yuks, and we will keep laughing at your idiocy.

  24. Ive been screaming since it came out that Avengers is THE most overated movie of all and ive been shot down for it, well their you go Marvel fans, Its massivly overated, TDKR was probably the weakest of the Batman trilogy yet it still smashed the Avengers! Good marketing is all it was, I was ready for the best Superhero film of all time so we were told, yet I was ready to walk out half way through, my girlfriend fell asleep! I dont think DC/WB has anything to worry about at all making a Justice League film, if its done properly then it will blow Avengers away, Who do you think the masses will prefer to see team up? Charactors like Superman and Batman or Ironman and Thor?? Geez thats a tough one lol

    • So, let’s see: Avengers was a popcorn movie, but YOU have declared it “over-rated”.

      And somehow, we are to believe that The Dark Knight Rises is somehow of a better quality than Avengers, not over-rated in its own right?

      Dark Knight is loaded with pretentiously artsy effects – slow mo walking, ridiculously over-long “drama” scenes, and the cheesiest dialogues I’ve heard in a long time.

      MY issue with TDKR is not actually that it does these things. My issue with it is that it takes itself seriously, while doing those things.

      And in my opinion, there are a lot of technical faults in the film, like very poorly chosen framing in places, unnecessary camera movement in others. I’ve found this to be true of all three of the Batman films, although the first one makes the most egregious use of bad framing and distractingly unnecessary camera movement.

      The Dark Knight Rises takes itself FAR too seriously for the material that it is offering. It’s fabricated drama.

      On the other hand, The Avengers is meant to be laughed at, chuckled along with, and gets you to let out a few “whoops” here and there with ridiculously over-the-top action that is entirely tongue firmly planted in cheek.

      I might add that The Avengers doesn’t have any glaring cinematic faults either, although a few of the CGI effects scenes are a bit visually confusing. At least there is no epilepti-cam during quiet, intimate moments (unlike in the Batman films).

      Considering the size of the cast in Avengers, the framing is very well done. Ensemble pieces are VERY difficult to frame properly.

    • “Who do you think the masses will prefer to see team up? Charactors like Superman and Batman or Ironman and Thor?? Geez thats a tough one lol”

      good point

        • ^^^
          Listen—Superman is the most iconic superhero there is, with the exception of maybe Batman. So if you don’t see the potential in a Justice League movie attracting “the masses” I think you are in the dark.

          I know this is taboo to talk about but DKR would’ve done so much better in the box office if not for the shooting. That incident ruined its moneymaking potential.

          I bet you’ll rethink your position once Man Of Steel comes out—kills—and sets up a new, superior version of what superhero team-up movies can be.

          • Oh, I know how big an Icon Superman is. That wasn’t my point. The point is if you make a Superman movie you still have to make it good. That’s why they are rebooting Superman with “Man Of Steel” (Notice the title doesn’t even say “Superman”.).

            You just can’t rely on the brand of the character to sell a movie, at least you shouldn’t.

            I think, at the moment if you asked a family of movie goers (not comic book fans) who they’d want to see, I’d say Marvel has the advantage (At the moment).

            • “I think, at the moment if you asked a family of movie goers (not comic book fans) who they’d want to see, I’d say Marvel has the advantage (At the moment).”

              If you asked them between superman or marvel characters, I could see that. But surely you don’t think it would swing that way so absolutely if Batman got included in the question?

              • No, it’s just apart from Batman and Superman, DC doesn’t have a strong movie going audience. Whilst Marvel has done some exceptional moves to become a dominant CBM player. Getting bought by Disney had certainly made a difference. Imagine if marvel hadn’t signed away the rights to The Fantastic Four, Spider-man and the X-Men.

                I just think if you asked the average moviegoer about a Justice League movie, they probably wouldn’t know what you were on about. Whilst X-Men and The Avengers the probably would.

                It’s up to DC to make The JLA a household name in the eyes of moviegoers. And I’m looking forward to it.

    • yes, it’s massively overrated based on a biased la times poll that probably only 15 people voted for 12 times each. yes, a real slice of opinion there…smh.

  25. I wouldnt disagree but Avengers delivered the fanservice and incredible action so yeah its overrated but still cool.

  26. It definitely is extremely overrated…but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie.

    It’s…good, but not great. Needed to take itself a little more seriously.

    By the way, why the hell is Iron Man the poster boy of The Avengers? Shouldn’t that be Cap? You know, THE LEADER! Didn’t even feel close to a leader until Stark told him that he was, they made him feel so unimportant compared to everyone else.

    And now Bruce Banner becomes Hulk at the flick of an internal light switch. Genius writing (facepalm)

    • Because Robert Downey Jr. sells more movie tickets. The success of the Avengers had little to do with comic book fans flocking to the movie and more to do with star power. Iron Man was probably the least popular out of the four Avengers featured in the films, yet those movies made the most money. It’s not a box office equation built on comic fans.

      • Which adds more to the overrated nonsense. Many people don’t care about quality anymore; they just want things to fly around and blow up. I’ll tell you something, I could care less about the box office. That says nothing about the quality of a movie, in fact many great movies go without notice.

        Whoever looks at the box office to determine whether a movie is incredible or not is insane

        • Overrated tends to be a relative term, but the amount of conversation generated about films now really brings up the question what movies are the most over-hyped. Do to the amount of press outlets and places people can discuss films movies are dissected and scrutinized from production to the time the DVD is released.

  27. I wish The Dark Knight Rises was on that list. I would have voted for it.

  28. I don’t know what it is but initially when I saw avengers I loved it and when I saw dark knight rises I didn’t think it was that great. Now after watching both 3 or 4 times I feel the complete opposite. I guess the character development has more depth in dark knight rises? I dunno, but that’s the way i feel.

  29. ‘Justin Bieber’ and ‘Twilight’ are responsible for the existence of ‘Over-Rated’ term.

    • No, you can thank retarded filmmakers for the term overrated. They just want money and thats whats running the quality of the industry into the ground