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

Published 2 years ago by

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
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. has Cronenberg never heard of watchmen???

    • +1

      • Agreed but Watchmen was a different kind of superhero movie. It wasnt the average cookie cutter type of supermovie so it cant conventionally be compared to the Avengers. If you were to compare them though, I would say Watchmen is a better movie because of its subject matter & substance.

    • As well as ‘Road to Perdition”.

  2. I don’t agree with calling the film over rated. I would say the director is over rated. This movie is over casted. LOL. It has some of the biggest super heroes all stacked in one feature film. Just like Expendables. Too big to know what to do with. Its success, much like Avatar and Transformers, are all due to its use of CGI and 3D selling points. It doesn’t make it a bad movie. Over rated isn’t a bad term. I do believe its success isn’t worth the amount it made though. I congratulate it. But I still sigh with disappointment over the amount of people that talk about how amazing it is AKA the FANBOYS! Go back under your bridge, you trolls. LOL.

    • I disagree with the CGI being its selling point. I think it was its years of marketing and build up

    • Its success, much like no other Superhero team movie before it, is based on the characters thousands of people grew up on.

      Its success, seen as a comic book itself, can be attributed to the ability to create a living breathing comic book on the silver screen without much change to the core characters that people grew up on.

      So what disappointed you in it? What within The Avengers did not have you looking at it as you would a comic come to life?

      The movie did what it was supposed to do. It brought a comic book to life. It did not try to pretend it was something other then it was. (yes Nolan im looking at you) So for that it was a success.

    • So if someone thinks it is an amazing moving that automatically makes them a trolling fanboy?

  3. Haters. Who cares as long as it entertains.

  4. Poll source: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc executive board.

    • Ahhhh, tells me everything I already thought. Had it been an actual non-partisan poll, the dark knight rises would have been right at the top of the list. It’s more similar to Howard the Duck then anything else, except Howard the Duck had a built in excuse to be campy, plot hole filled and redundant.

  5. the dark knight rises was over rated

  6. Why isn’t the dark knight rises on that poll? Tells me all I need to know about the source.

  7. There are many lessons and ideas adults lose when they refuse to acknowledge the power and potential in “children’s” stories.

    That said I can only vote on what I actually saw… sooo between Brave and the Avengers I’d have to go with Brave. Sorely disappointed in that whole “mother daughter fight” flick. They need to go back to the fairy tales and start thinking in new directions rather than attempting to come up with their own schlock pushing their own psycho babble.

  8. I truly don’t understand how Avengers is the most overrated movie of the year. I mean compared to a tour de force drama like Argo yeah it’s not as good, but as a fun adventure movie, it may be the best I can think of and works purely on a level of great characters good action and great dialogue.

  9. Most overrated movie of the year for me was Prometheus and the most underrated was The Amazing Spider-Man.

    • Prometheus wasnt overrated, it was slated by everyone, it was the most criticised movie of the year!

      • I dunno. I read and heard lots of glowing reviews for it. Despite it being pretty crappy.

  10. I don’t quite understand the logic of some people, not to mention that of some of the “followers” in this world. How was The Avengers “Overrated”? It was a very good movie, receiving universal praise. The problem is, we live in this world where everything has to be “realistic”, Nolanfied — That is an unrealistic expectation[see what I did there?]

    This was a proper “Comic book” Summer Blockbuster, that was actually really good, really entertaining. Unlike that crapfest, the ‘Transformers Trilogy’

    This was a Comic Book movie after all. Can you imagine if it took a dark and serious ‘The Dark Knight’ tone? I can’t.

    TDKR was overrated. It was the worst one, and that’s not even on the list. Had it been, it would’ve been voted as the most overrated, I can almost guarantee it.

    Besides, you also have to earn the right to get a high approval rating and score on Rotten Tomatoes, and it received a 92% Positive and an average rating of 8/10. How is that “Overrated”?

    Take one of the most highest grossing, highest rated movie of the year, drink the kool-aid and voila, instant publicity. Some people will do anything to stay relevant.

    • That’s not even close to being true.

    • I didn’t see many movies last year, so I’m not going to tab one movie as the most overrated released last year.

      Still, I did see TDKR and the Avengers. I am a big comic book movie fan, but I didn’t like either movie that much. I would say that TDKR is more overrated since it has received more critical acclaim than the Avengers.

    • I really don’t think that most people care what elitists like this guy say about anything. There are far too many people like this who are so concerned with demeaning and criticizing the general public and what they enjoy while they should really be more concerned about working on their own flaws.

      One big example is how Hollywood portrays anyone who is content with their life in middle America as some sort of redneck trash loser. If you don’t strive for more than just your dull life with your dull family then you are the definition of dull. (I meant dull is the word they would use.)

      We hear the hypocrisy of the Hollywood and entertainment crowd almost daily. They came out in a PSA against guns while many of them profit off of violent movies as characters who wield guns. They rail against the rich saying they are so greedy and basically scum while they are far up in that 1%. It makes me sick only because people listen to these losers. Just entertain us then shut the hell up.

  11. @The Avenger – I don’t think Prometheus was the most overrated, but the most overhyped. I think the disappointment was acknowledged by fans and critics. Even Ridley was disappointed. For me, it was ‘TDKR’. A great movie, but was truly overrated because it marked the end of the Trilogy. I thought the movie was extremely messy in parts. a few scenes could’ve been cut short, with some cut out entirely. Even the ending was a joke, as it was given away quite early on by Alfred.

  12. Since we’re over 130 comments into this article I haven’t had a chance to read through all of them yet, but I wanted to make the point that children’s literature, while simplistic, are often the earliest baseline for most children to develop a moral compass and code of ethics that they carry through life. Continuing onto the adolescent audience of comic books, they introduce more complex ideas and situations, the moral grey zone, and question the reader’s own ethics.

    I’m not saying that The Avengers did all this, but for the writer of the article and supporting poll to just discredit a film because it’s based off a comic book is very naive.

  13. Aliens are repeating to destroy the earth so its mightiest heroes assemble to protect.

    Go Go Power Rangers.


    I mean Avengers Assemble.

  14. I actually think that Superman has potential to change people’s minds on the genre. Wolverine, maybe. I know that the original script was rewritten, and that Arronofsky left for whatever reason, so we’ll have to wait and see on it. Thor should be a lot of fun, but I don’t think it’s going for the “high art” approach. Iron Man might be pretty mature this time around, but since Marvel is calling it a technological thriller, I don’t think it’s going for the high art approach either.

  15. My first instinct is to call this article rubbish. The Avengers movie was extremely entertaining and highly accessible to general audiences. No one could have made the material more successful than Joss Whedon. He understands the source material, hardcore fans, and the viewing audience at large. The only reason that I wouldn’t dismiss this article out of hand is that some people may have gone into the theaters expecting one thing and getting another. That is unfortunate. However, it is not the fault of the film, the screen writers or the actors; all excellent in my opinion.

    The worst part about articles like this one is that it may keep someone from giving this movie the fair, open-minded chance to entertain them. It does that brilliantly and is definitely worth the 2 hours investment.

  16. Where’s Skyfall on this list? People talked about how it’s the best Bond movie ever, but I was bored for most of the movie. The cinematography was well done and most of the acting was pretty good, but I found myself not caring about the story at all. It was like they set up certain parts of a characters background, and then said “Ok, now that that’s done lets move onto an action scene and forget we even put that in the script!”. I will say the pacing was well done though. Didn’t feel as long as it was, but I just couldn’t get into the movie. Just my opinion though.

    • I am with you on this one. Still a very good movie, but when everyone said it was the best Bond ever I had very high expectations. I have a few complaints about it that I won’t get into. But for the Bond standard, Casino Royale is far and away the best Bond movie ever made.

  17. DKR should have made the poll. I wonder if this poll aloud for every movie that came out this last year or if they pre-selected a list. Either way DKR should have been on their since in my (and many others) opinion it was the most disappointing movie of the year.

  18. Now do a followup story where TDKR is on that list to vote for.

    So tired of all of these fanbois with a critic’s hand up their backside trying to say how great that turd of a film was. It deserves a Razzie and a spot just above Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

  19. The Avengers was a tremendous movie experience. Exciting, fully entertaining, humorous, visually stunning, exceptional battle scenes. Full out, da bomb in ever way. I wasn’t disappointed in the least — and this from a guy who pretty much feels every Marvel film except Iron Man and Cap have fallen short (some egregiously short). When I saw The Avengers there was a palapable, electric excitement in the packed theater for the entire screening. The Dark Knight? An enjoyable two hours, but I feel no compulsion to ever see it again. The Avengers, on the other hand, is on my “to own” list. A great film, a triumph.

  20. Wow what a load of crap both the Avengers & TDKR were great/good movies so was prometheus… what ever happened to going to a movie eating popcorn and enjoying the movie without having to hear something bad about it…2012 had great movies and some bad ones and 2013 will be the same thing…

  21. Both The Avengers & The Dark Knight Rises are great comic book movies, but I personally thought TDKR was a deeper, stronger ,better movie than TA. The Avengers was more shallow but still thoroughly enjoyable. TDKR has more substance.

    • yes it did, it was full of substance…a substance that is brown and pretty foul, and to name it would get me moderated.

  22. I think its sad to see that audiences need everything (for a lack of a better term) ‘dumbed-down’, in order to be more appealing.

    If you went back in time to me in 2008 (when TDK was a phenomenon, etc.) and told me some over-budgeted Power Rangers movie would publicly overshadow the next Batman, I would’ve thought you were insane. The fact people are defending Avengers with that “its a popcorn movie!” excuse means nothing, its the same argument used for Bayformers; a trilogy of CGI messes with a sense of humor that Jar Jar Binks would be offended by.

    To me TDKR and its other two films represent a part of the movies of yesteryear. Movies that didn’t hold your hand the whole time and didn’t insult your intellegence. Movies that put storytelling before action, or intertwined them in a meaningful or emotionally-powerful way (Both Batman vs. Bane fights still feel real and intense after multiple viewings, and show how far Batman had come physically and mentally.) Movies that relied FAR less on CGI (which still makes most that overuse it look like glorified videogames.) and focused on making real props that actually functioned or gave a better sense of believability (I still think The Bat can actually fly.)

    I’m not saying Nolan’s Batman films aren’t perfect or flawless, VERY few are. But they have a look and feel that seperates them from the “clean and polished” vibe you see in most movies past the mid 2000s. Also it can’t be ignored that TDK influenced CBMs, and even non-CBMs (Skyfall anyone?) It changed what was concievable as a CBM. The same way Star Wars influenced generations of new filmmakers and changed how Sci-Fi was viewed and how special effects were done.

    But hey, that’s what I think.

  23. While I personally believe The Avengers was somewhat overrated, I certainly don’t think that 85% of the public thought it was the #1 most overrated movie of 2012. That poll has an insanely high dropoff between 1 and 2, plus a very questionable list of choices. I, for one, was baffled that TDKR was not a choice. I personally loved TDKR, but I do realize that many people were very disappointed with it and thought it was vastly overrated. And Project X? Really? In order for a movie to be overrated, it needs to be positively rated in the first place. That’s kinda the definition of overrated…

    And regarding Cronenberg’s comments, for the most part I hear what he’s saying and he’s probably right. I think something that fellow commenters missed was a big word he said: “accurately.” He said that comic books generally tend to be more kid-oriented, so if you make an ACCURATE film based on the comics, it might end up feeling more kid-friendly, and as a result, not exactly on the same level as artistic films. However, it is possible to make comicbook-based movies that might not be so accurate, but are fantastic stories (Nolan’s trilogy IMO, and hopefully Man of Steel and Wolverine).

    Also, Cronenberg is being a bit shortsighted when he says comic books are designed for adolescents. Ever hear of Alan Moore, Frank Miller, etc?

  24. *Meant to say “ARE perfect or flawless.”

  25. TDKR overrated yes – I never had expectation for Avengers as a superhero movie, as I am not a huge fan of them. So I was pleasantly surprised to like it so much that I rewatched it four times – I felt connected to it more than any other blockbuster. JW does that for me I guess.

  26. This is what I hate about movies today. Is that critics always want to see art in films that aren’t really meant have it. The Avengers wasn’t going to be a thought provoking, emotional and complex story. It was going to be a fun Comic book film. A lot of people might say that the Dark Knight Rises is a Cinematic Art, but the truth is, it’s not. The Dark Knight Rise had a very confusing villain plan, Characters that differ from there original comic book counterpart, in fact, people can bring up the argument that Batman was too Dumb in the Dark Knight Rises, how many times had Catwoman bested him? 2, 3, 4 times. And that’s not how Batman works, Batman is one of the most Paranoid heroes in DC Comics, if he’s tricked even ONCE, he’ll swear to god, it will never happen again. Yeah, it might have had people crying, but that’s only if there big fans of Nolan’s Batman. Which I wasn’t, but that shouldn’t matter, because if the Dark Knight Rises was “Cinematic Art” then I would cry being a fan of Nolan’s Batman or not.

    The Avengers is a comic book movie, and a fun one. It’s very complex, but it had great characters and witty dialog, just because it didn’t ask the “True meaning of Human Life” or any deep, dark and clever messages, doesn’t make it a bad film. People got what they expected from the Avengers, a fun, entertaining, and witty comic book movie. So, no, The Avengers is not an overrated film, I got what I expected out of it, and it was more than I’d every imagine.

    • Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were CBMs too, they delivered what they promised; colorful visuals, an upbeat tone, and just a generally comic-y atmosphere. Yet people hated on them, and still continue to because they’re not the dark brooding Batman most have come accustomed to.

      I by no mean would call Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy “Cinematic Art.” I personally call those types of films “Artsy-Fartsy,” since (to me, but not in all cases) they’re basically made for “guaranteed-Oscar” reasons.

      Personally, I’d connect TDK trilogy more with the Star Wars OT. Both trilogies have an easy-to-follow narrative, with characters that grow more after each individual film, zen-like messages about good/evil and trials throughout life within their universes that can be understood but can also be taken apart and examined thoughrolly, twists and revelations for the protagonist, an overall arc that is concluded, etc. etc.

      Bottom line: Nolan’s trilogy can be enjoyed without thinking too hard, but there is more to it than simply being films based off Batman; its like a modern day Star Wars trilogy. It took the best from old incarnations of Batman (like SW with old film serials) molded them together and created something new, but gave nods to its roots at the same time.

  27. “…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.”

    I didn’t think any of those were examples of the things you claimed they represented.

  28. Did anyone really go to see Avengers and actually think it was going to be “art”. It’s an ACTION MOVIE, and I’m glad it didn’t pretend to be anything else.