Brett Ratner vs. Comic Book Fans (A Friendly Response)

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:26 pm,

Have you ever wanted to look deep into the dark recesses of a comic book movie director’s mind – nay – heart? You don’t have to look much further than the interview StarPulse.com recently held with director Brett Ratner. The Q&A session was mostly a junket to build hype for Ratner’s upcoming film The Shooter Series, but also touched on Beverly Hills Cop 4 and his thoughts on comic book fans, and it’s that last part I want to focus on.

There are sites out there (that we are most certainly friends with and fans of) that regularly rip Ratner and his films a new one. So I’m going to preface this article by saying that if you search Screen Rant you’ll find that while we may not be his biggest fans, we haven’t jumped on the “‘Brett Ratner sucks’ bandwagon” in our coverage of him or his films.

The interview is standard fare for the first part – with Ratner praising himself and all he has done. But soon enough the focus turns toward his work on X-Men 3: The Last Stand and all the flak he took from comic book fanboys for helming what many consider to be the worst installment of the trilogy. It is at this point Ratner’s true feelings towards his highly critical audience come out and the confession isn’t pretty. In fact, it should make every person that ever had a critical comment to make towards any of his movies stand up and thrust forth the proverbial finger and say “Spin on this Captain Franchise Killer!”

I’ll start with the question StarPulse.com asks Ratner, give a bit of his answer and then I’ll respond to his remarks. You can head over to StarPulse.com for the entire lengthy interview.

StarPulse.com : You mentioned X-Men. Is the comic book fan the hardest demographic to please? If you look at the numbers: Bryan Singer‘s X-Men made $157 Million, X-Men United made $214 million and your X-Men: The Last Stand made $234 million. Yet that group wasn’t particularly happy.”

Ratner: “Absolutely. Bryan Singer gave me the best advice when I was doing “X-Men 3,” Bryan is a really good friend of mine. Bryan said, “Whatever you do, do not read the Internet.” I’m like, “Why?” He’s like, “First of all, they hated on me the whole time I was making ‘X-Men’ and ‘X-Men 2.’ They said, ‘Gambit should have been the star of the movie’” They’re such rabid fans, they’re so passionate about their comic book characters that they think that their favorite character should be the star of the movie. Someone might be passionate about Iceman being the star. So, you can’t win. Everyone’s going to have their own so just stay away from their opinion and do what you feel’s best.”

Me: First off, I’m glad that Ratner clarifies that he and Bryan Singer are good friends, nothing like a good name drop and “nudge-wink-nudge” to validate the comments you are about to say. Yes we did “hate” on Singer the entire time he was making the first X-Men film but not so much with the second one. Singer needed to prove he could pull off a multiple character comic movie film that didn’t look and feel like Batman & Robin. If Singer had failed (which he didn’t), then all of the other comic book movies that came after might never would have materialized. Before X-Men, the only examples “rabid” fanboys had to look to in the comic book movie world were a handful of bad Batman movies (Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman excluded), a very bad Punisher movie and a made-for-TV Spider-Man flick – so excuse us for being overly concerned about X-Men’s transition from page to screen.

Ratner: I kind of made rules for myself. I said to the writers — Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg — I only want to put scenes in this movie that exist from actual comic books. That way I protect myself. Even though I protect myself they’re still saying, “Why the f*ck did [he] kill Professor X?” He died in five different comic books! People are crazy. “Brett Ratner killed Professor X! How dare he do that!” He died in five different comic books and came back!”

Me: First Ratner calls us rabid and passionate fans, implying that we know way more about the comic characters than he does, and then insults us for allegedly not knowing that Professor X has died on more than one occasion? Superman and Robin also died but I don’t see the other directors killing off their major characters. By the way, nice language to use during an interview.

Am I supposed to be impressed that Ratner made rules for himself and then chose to only follow the one where a character dies? He also killed off Cyclops in a manner that is not consistent with the comic stories. I don’t ever remember reading in the comics that Jean rises as the Phoenix, finds Scott by a lake and obliterates his molecules. One could argue that Cyclops did die in Uncanny X-Men #377 while sacrificing himself to save a friend from the villain Apocalypse (special thanks to Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw for pointing that out), and that Ratner simply took creative liberties with said death, but I don’t buy it. I think the “Great Sultan of the Lens” took the cheap way out by tossing Cyclops – a pivotal corner of the X-Universe – on the sideline.

I’m not done with his so called “rules”: Ratner says he we wanted to stay true to the source material from the comic, but then he throws in some throw-away characters and really messes up others. Fanboys gave him mad props for trying to include as many characters as he could – the inclusion of Angel, Beast and Colossus were among our favorites visually, but then he did nothing with them. They were just there to look at and chew up scenery. Some of the worst were Juggernaut, Leech, Siryn and Callisto; he put no thought into translating them from page to screen and for that I call “bull crap” on his “rules”.

(Continue to pg 2. for the “Waffle House” Effect)

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

StarPulse.com: Then people weren’t happy with Bryan Singer when he went on to Superman Returns.

Ratner: You can’t make these people happy. I’m kind of the Anti-Christ to these comic book geeks. Every single person that wrote sh*t went to see that movie multiple times because a movie doesn’t gross $200 something million unless people go to see it more than once. Every single person who said, “I’m never seeing that movie,” they were the first ones there.

Me: Brett isn’t the anti-christ; I prefer to think of him as the “Slayer of Children’s Dreams.” I love how he speaks with ultimate authority on the subject of who went to see his film. I sometimes truly wonder if he understands how the movie sequel process works. Brett had the privilege of making a movie with a built in audience. The first two X-Men films were so good that, of course, everyone who saw those films were going to see the third regardless of what occurred during production. The only thing that would have truly kept fans from watching it would have been the announcement of Uwe Boll as director; Ratner needs to come down off his high horse.

And no, I was not the first one in line (I was fourth because of a parking issue), but I was the first to leave the theater. Also, according to Lessmovieinfo.net, the average ticket price in 2000, when X-Men was released, was $5.39; compare that to the $6.55 average price in 2006 when X-Men 3 released and Ratner starts off $1.16 per ticket better than previous two films. Sure that’s not an overwhelming amount, but after a few million tickets that starts to add up. It’s just one reason why X-Men 3 made more than the previous two films.

Here’s the main reason why I think X-Men 3 made more money than the previous two films: I call it the “Waffle House Effect.”

I know what you’re thinking, “What does ‘Waffle House’ have to do with X-Men 3? Was there a tie-in promotion I was unaware of?”

Imagine this: you’re driving through a small town when you become hungry for a steak. The problem is, there is only one place to eat in town and it’s Waffle House. Now granted, Waffle House has got the market on hash browns and waffles but they aren’t known for their Ruth’s Chris-style steaks. But hey, it’s the only place in town to eat so if you are truly hungry for steak, then that’s where you have to go.

While you are there you find out this particular Waffle House did $234 million in steaks last summer and the manager is going on interviews bragging about how his Waffle House is the best thing ever, and how critics and fans of well made steaks can kiss his butt.

Anyone with a brain can figure out that this Waffle House isn’t making big much money because of how good their steaks are but rather they are the only option in town.

The same thing applies to X-Men 3. The movie didn’t make big money because it was above reproach and Ratner made the Citizen Kane of comic book films – it did well at the theater because it was the only comic book movie to open in the summer of 2006. The movie was the only place to get a steak, even one as chewed up, overcooked and leathery as X3 was; if fanboys wanted to watch Wolverine slash and hack, then X-Men 3 was the only place to go.

(Continue to pg. 3 to find out if Ratner could be the next Scorsese)

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

StarPulse.com: What is it then? Are you polarizing?

Ratner: You know what it is. That’s their whole life, they have nothing more to do than to worry. What are they concerned about? It’s out of the filmmaker’s hands. A film is a collaborative effort. How’s a person sitting at home going to worry about how a movie is going to turn out to be? I just know one thing: Mine out grossed the other two by far. Mine was the one that made the most narrative sense. And I’m not knocking Bryan’s movie but he just does a certain thing; Bryan uses his brain and I use my eye and my instincts more. It’s a whole different approach to making a movie. I’m not saying my movie wasn’t smart; I just wasn’t intellectualizing it. I was just looking at it as pure entertainment value which is what it was.

Me: So at first Ratner calls Bryan Singer his good friend and then throws his movies under the bus? I’m sorry, he did preface his comments with “And I’m not knocking Bryan’s movie”, so I guess it’s OK. I would really like to comment on his “Bryan uses his brain” remark but that would be like beating a piñata with a semi-truck.

Brett was not the first choice to direct X-Men 3 – heck he wasn’t even the second choice! Kick Ass director Matthew Vaughan was on-board briefly, however when Singer and Vaughn both pulled out during production, Fox had to do something quick to fill the director’s chair. IMHO, what Fox did tapping Ratner for the job is the equivalent of taking the ugly girl home from the bar at the end of the night because the cute ones left with your friends.

Now, I’m the first to give Ratner props for at least getting the movie done under some poor circumstances: low budget, bad script, short production time, studio meddling and high fan expectations. He stepped in and finished what no one else seemed to want to do, but that doesn’t excuse him for his next statement:

Ratner: When I was a kid and used to watch that cartoon it was just fun. It wasn’t a deeper meaning for me when I watched the cartoon as a kid. I didn’t read the comic books but it doesn’t matter, the cartoon is the same f*cking thing. The most ridiculous statement I’ve read is — and of course I looked at the Internet after the movie came out — that I buried the franchise. If I buried the franchise how the f*ck did they make a “Wolverine”? I mean, that’s ridiculous. And they’re making three other f*cking “X-Men” movies. Mine kept the franchise alive!

Me: Once again, fantastic language by Mr. Classy but, in that one statement Ratner proves why he should never have been chosen (third) to helm this project. The X-Men cartoons were never intended to replace the comics; they were only supposed to extend their media reach. The stories and characters in the cartoon were all vastly different then the comics and this could be a major reason why Ratner’s X-Men universe didn’t work; he didn’t truly understand how the stories and characters were supposed come across. What Brett (by his own words) was make a movie based on a TV show that’s based on a comic book. There is a lot that gets lost in translation when movies are done that way.

x men 3 Brett Ratner vs. Comic Book Fans (A Friendly Response)

Storm and Cyclops on set of X3.

As far as a response to his “buried the franchise” remark, he really DID bury the franchise. The way he left the characters and burnt bridges tied off story lines almost guarantees fans will never see an X-Men 4. Sure we have the new Wolverine franchise to follow and there have been rumors of a Magneto and Gambit spin-offs but Ranter didn’t do anything in X-Men 3 to help facilitate any of that.

I guess what cheeses me off the most is his flippant attitude towards his audience. Compare that to Jon Favreau, who reached out to fans and looked for the feedback and input (within reason) for Iron Man. There are very few directors in Hollywood that can pack people in theaters just BECAUSE they are directing it; I would put Scorsese, Spielberg, and Coppola at the top of that list right now. Brett Ratner’s name, however, would not show up on that list. These directors have established themselves in the world of cinema to such a degree that their name alone will draw in moviegoers regardless of what acting talent is in the film.

Ratner, on the other hand, must still rely on big name actors and pre-established content to draw in audiences. Do you think anyone would have watched Rush Hour 1, 2, or 3 if Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker weren’t starring? Would After the Sunset (which I actually liked) have had the box office success if Pierce Bronson and Woody Harrelson weren’t’ attached?

There is no way to know the answer for sure but I challenge Ratner to try and make a big blockbuster film that equals the success of X-Men 3 WITHOUT having a built-in fan base from previous films, or riding the coat tails of big name actors. District 9 did it this summer with no recognizable faces or names behind the camera.

Brett Ratner, the gauntlet has been thrown down; will you pick it up?

What do you think about Brett Ratner’s comments and feelings toward the comic book fan boy community?

Source: StarPulse.com

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TAGS: gambit, magneto, x-men, x-men 4, x-men: first class

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  1. “They’re such rabid fans, they’re so passionate about their comic book characters that they think that their favorite character should be the star of the movie. Someone might be passionate about Iceman being the star. So, you can’t win. Everyone’s going to have their own so just stay away from their opinion and do what you feel’s best.”

    I can’t say I like Singer’s remarks either (if he actually said that). You’re making a movie based on characters whose fan base spans more than 70 years, and your advice is to stay away from the opinion of the people who atually do know more about the characters than you? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Although, while I am able to see Singer’s point of certain fans wanting their favorite character to be the star of the film, I, however, think that any rational and creative filmmaker would be able to decipher between what would make sense and what would not, whether a fan is merily looking out for their favorite character or the excellency of the entire film. Why? Well, to start off both Singer and Ratner have tons of comic books to refer to, and should have referred to them months, even a year before they started production. This would have helped them to understand and know the characters and the fans. By Ratner saying that the x-men cartoons and the x-men comic books are the same thing, does lead me to believe that he relied on the cartoons, instead of the true source–the books themselves.

    Hey, when I was in junior high it was easier and more fun to watch a movie based on a book, which we had to do a book report on, than to actually tediously read the book itself, though my teachers gave us an adequate amount of time to read the book. But alas, because they read the book and knew its contents and characters inside out, they easily deduced that some of the reports was based on the movie and not the book itself. As a result, some students received a bad grade., which is what Ratner got from the fans. Furthermore, I still don’t think the first 2 x-men films were all that great. But as stated before by our host blogger, they only made so much because the were the first x-men films ever made and were highly anticipated by fans. I say, Marvel needs to choose another production company to make their films. I think they are partly to blame to.

  2. AT Jack

    I am a real fan of the comics (mostly marvel). Frankly, I agree with you that you cannot put so many characters in a comic movie. I have been saying that since day one. The reason being is that the film will do very bad beause each character needs their own camera time and it’s just too much going on. However, I think you are wrong with your assumption that most of the the comics’ audience are at puberty or under. That may vey well be true for Archie Comics or crime/detective based comics, but not for Marvel. Stan Lee, himself, said the majority of comic book readers and fans of Marvel are adults, well into their late 20s and upward, in Comics Books Unleashed/Abound. Christian Bale’s Batman did well simply because the plot was well written, in that it made sense, and here’s the big one…it was geared toward the adult audience. I remember critics telling parents to not bring their children to see Bale’s second bat flick because it was geared toward adults (because of its dark content).

    DC’s characters, in my opinion, are more so aimed toward the puberty and and under puberty crowd, with the exception of Batman. Batman has always been a favorite of both the young and older male audience because of the seriousness of the character. He is, in my opinion, the only DC character that can easily cross over into the Marvel Comics realm/family, as his origin fits the origin of many Marvel characters: He is a character who possesses some sort of great power, but in Bat’s case strong witts and intelligence, and is somewhat of a disturbed man, one who sits in a cave with bats (the smell of the place must be unbearable), and dresses up like a bat to fight crime. This was a point that Jack Nicholson’s Joker character made note of, pointing to how ridiculous and disturbed this guy must be…just like himself. Therefore, in that sense, Batman fits well into the Marvel family unlike most of DC’s characters who seem to have bright and picture perfect origins, and seem to have no flaws because they are the “perfect” person.

    The film studios gear these comic book movies toward a younger crowd (10-14 year olds) because they think it will generate more money, when in fact it doesn’t. Why? because 10 and 12 year old kids, believe it or not, wouldn’t frequent a movie theater to see the same flick 5 times, as compared to there adult counterparts, who actually have money in their pockets because they have jobs, and a stronger attention span. I have read that some people (adults) saw certain Marvel flicks (such as Ironman) at least 5 times.

    There is a way to make movies based on our comic book heroes (at least Marvel characters), excellently well: gear them toward their proper and intended and original demographic…the adults. All 3 X-men films made well over 100 million. It wasn’ because they were actually good (though 2 was the best out of the 3), but because X1 was the very first movie based on marvel’s favorite team, while 2 and 3 road the wake of X1′s first time appeal.

    I don’t need to see Wolverine in his yellow and blue scrubs, just make the character into what he is in the books, a man who has anger management issues, who is also trying to keep himself from going berserk, but does from time to time, incorporate one villain for him to fight, and give temovie the presence of say…Charles Bronson’s Death Wish flicks.

    Finally, mostly nothing in their origins need to be changed since many characters (again, mostly marvel) are based on real life events, nor are their origins boring or “stupid” as you put it, Jack. I think Wolverine has an exciting origin, considering how old he is (well over 100). The Hulk has another non-boring origin, and even Captain America, whose state of natural cryogenics does seem plausible or at least wants to seem possible by the human mind, which in turn makes for an exciting movie because of it’s appeal to the human imagination (providing that it is directed well, geared toward its proper/intended audience, etc. etc.)

  3. my problem with x-3 is it feels like a dissconect from x-1 and 2 while fun it lacks the tone of the first two. it dose not flow scenes go from scene to scene with no flow to them. did the guys who wrote x-3 forget the x-men are based in ny not sf and if it was ny there is bno way in hell icekid would go looking for Rogue and be back at the school so damn quick. Ratner did get it out fast but if you don”t have a good story then wtf is the point of it. i agree with the guy in the article idk which was worse x-3 or wolverine.

  4. Storm and Cyclops on the set of X3. Love it, :-)