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

Published 4 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)

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

97 Comments

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  1. @T – People have to understand that X3 was not the finical success people think it was. It had a budget of $210 million but yet only brought in $234 million. It had a 67% drop from week 1 to 2, which is horrible even for a summer movie, and spent 18 weeks in theaters. The studios had to let it run that long if they wanted to make any kind of gravy. It didn’t make its money back until week 4 and then spent the 14 earning only $14 million. It was only at #1 for opening weekend and stayed in the top 10 for 5 weeks.

    By comparison, X1 had a budget of $75 million and made that back in the 2nd week, only dropped 57% from week 1 to 2 and stayed in theaters for 19 weeks. It doubled its budget after week 7 and ended up at $157 million total. It was only in #1 for opening weekend and stayed in the top 10 for 5 weeks.

    X2 did even better, with a budget of $110 million, it too made its budget back in week 2 and only had a 53% drop from weeks 1 to 2. It doubled its budget in week 9, stayed in theaters for 21 weeks (which is unheard of) to close out at $215 million. It stayed at #1 for 2 weeks in a row and remained in the top 10 for 7 weeks.

    Now, I ask you, which of those movies screams success? Obviously X2 is the clear winner but why? I think it had more to do with the genre and how new it was in 2000. At the time Singer released it, only fan boys and big fans of action where willing to take the chance in theaters. After the DVD came out and people could rent it cheaper, they realize what a success it was and decided X2 was worth paying for in theaters.

    Before X3 came out we started getting a slew of comic book movie successes, Spiderman 1 and 2, Daredevil, Blade 2 and 3, Hulk, The Punisher, Hellboy, Batman Begins, Elektra, and Fantastic Four ALL came out between X1 and X3. That’s a whole lot of movies to help build a fan base of non-fan boys. People that wouldn’t typically watch a comic film, were now becoming accustom to it.

    So when I say the “Waffle House Effect” is the reason behind X3’s success, I’m not far from being dead on the target.

    @greenknight – I’m not worried bro, I’m happy you read it. We’ve agreed at other times just not this time. *internet fist bump [“”,] *

  2. @ Paul

    I read them all Man!! Enjoy most of them by all you guys!! I do appreciate the amount of work that went into it..Not bashing your hard work..
    Peace!!

    :)

  3. While I think Bretts response was childish (this movie is old, time to move on) I do agree to a certain extent. While not a comic book movie on any epic scale, it was however fun.

    Spiderman and the 1st two X-men movies did take themselves quite seriously and in my opinion this didn’t. It was just a bit of fun, nothing more. That not excusing the fact his language and attitude are unacceptable.

    K

  4. @kosta – As I pointed out above, $14 million is not the “lucrative” of a profit for a movie of this caliber. Also, I would not have written a piece talking about Ratner and X3 if the man hadn’t of given me something to respond to. Sure Star Pulse asked the question during an interview for a different movie but it’s because the man is an easy mark. They knew he would respond that way and it would ultimately drive more traffic to their site. Ratner could have easily just asked to stay on topic for The Shooter Series but alas, he is the one that has truly not let it go and felt the need to “call us out” if you will.
    And Singer did get a handful of monkey poop flung at him for Superman, and unless you were living under a rock, Bay has been and will continue to catch butt loads of flack for TF2. The difference is they aren’t running around acknowledging any of the criticism openly, defiantly and rudely. And of course he isn’t the worst director, he’s just the one running his mouth.

  5. Kosta

    The difference I see between Singer, Bay and Ratner is Ratner’s contempt for the fans that made the movie possible and his ‘The Box-Office figures prove it’s a good movie’ attitude. They’re all culpable of poor movies and decent ones (entertainment-wise) but for someone to publicly bite the hand that feeds them is (for me) more than a little insulting.

  6. I really don’t see a problem here. Ratner is hacked off that X-Men 3, despite being extremely lucrative, continually dogs his career by way of whining fanboys pointing out the flaws. It was still a good comic book film and a darnsight more satisfying that the first one. So what? He gets annoyed and swears. Well big whoop, let’s all nerdily throw the pottymouth to the wolves for venting his frustrations!

    I don’t hear anywhere near as many people clamouring in the longterm at Bryan Singer’s gate for gleefully showing us Superman imitating a crucified Jesus after carting a Kryptonite continent off into orbit? Or Michael ‘Baysplosions’ Bay for running roughshod over the Transformers comic stories with the toilet-paper script for Revenge Of The Fallen.

    Let Ratner do his job. He’s not the worst director by a long chalk, even in the insular world of big-screen comic adaptations

  7. @Paul Young, Excellent retort.

  8. @Kosta… I think part of the difference with Ratner is that I think he truly believes his film was perfect. I don’t get the feeling this is a man who learns from his mistakes. Rather, his comments give the appearance of someone who believes he doesn’t make them.

    I will admit that directors need to have some big egos, though. I don’t think you could survive a job like that with anything less. Ratner just doesn’t appear capable of keeping it real.

  9. yeah, Ratner is a bit sanctimonious when it comes to his talent, which isnt absent but he is no Frank Capra. (id give him a 4/10 on skill) but i will say he makes entertaining movies.

  10. Does he even make anything good if Chris Tucker is not envolved?

  11. @ Kosta/Bill Blume

    don’t all directors think their films are perfect or better than what fans/critics say it is. Case in point the Director of Showgirls held on so long saying the movie was a masterpiece that was misunderstood. I just think Ratner was given the opportunity to say F-U right back to the people who were saying F-U to him. At least he’s not challenging fans to a kumite to prove his films are good like Uwe Bol challenged fools to a boxing match to prove his crappy ass video game movies are good.

  12. @SIN

    except fans had a reason to say F-U to him…

    And Kosta was supporting Ratner, in case you didn’t realize.

    @Paul

    Wow, X3 had THAT big of a budget??? And people thought it was crazy for Cameron to get that for his movie Avatar?? I mean, if Ratner and X3 deserved over $200 million, then Cameron should be scoring like $500 million budgets, lol.

    Where did all of that money go? Obviously not to the writers or the direction because that was worth like $46 combined…

  13. That was a GREAT read. I agree with everything you said – its actually really irritating to read how Ratner’s trying to take credit for keeping the franchise going.

  14. @ Ken J

    And Ratner has a reason to say F-U back to them. Was workin on 3.5 hours sleep when last posted and Kosta name just stood out for some reason. Any who I think a lot of people are just band wagon haters of Brett Ratner.

  15. @Haggislaw:
    Does he even make anything good if Chris Tucker IS involved?

  16. I just looked at IMDB for Ratner and there is not one movie he made that I like even a little rush hour sucked and the sequals I couldn’t even watch them they were so stupid maybe he should have stuck with music vids I am so tired of these over rated dir. talking about how we didn’t see the movie the way they seen it he’s just another Frank Miller

  17. @SIN

    So… if someone did something that warranted a punch in the face, and you punched him in the face, that means he has “reason” to punch you back? I thought it would have been “even” for fans to say F-U to him after he made a mockery of the X-Men franchise…

    So technically, now that he said F-U back, that means it’s uneven again, so we need to say F-U back to him again. Damn, this is so confusing… Anywho, hooray for this article…

    It’s not jumping on a bandwagon. I can care less what everyone else thinks, everyone could LOVE Ratner for all I care, I still think X3 was garbage and he deserves flak for it… I’m the last person to be jumping on bandwagons…

  18. I wouldn’t like his “my crap don’t stink” attitude even in a GOOD director, and he’s not even that… James Cameron kind of has that attitude, and yes, I call him a douche all the time, but at the very least he could back it up to the point where some people just say “you know what, you’re full of yourself, but you have reason to…” But Ratner having that attitude is like an illiterate person thinking he’s the greatest literary genius or Rosie O’Donnell thinking she’s a health guru…

  19. The problem is that these directors are so disconnected from the fans that they dont know how to do half of these movies justice. Fans do. (some of them). When Singer says dont listen to anyone on the internet I see where he’s coming from becuase most of you guys are fake. its not that hard to make a good Xmen movie. Dont focus on one person is the first thing.(Hugh Jackman is not Wolverine)Multi layered story with propoer actors do this thing properly.

  20. @Justin: Wowsers, dude! All this time, I thought I was real…now I find out (from a self-appointed better director) that “its not that hard to make a good Xmen movie” and that “most of you guys (I assume this means me as well) are fake”.

    Hoss, a word of Friendly Critique, if I may? If you wish to present an argument of sterling-clarity logic in defense of Ratner, don’t start with a statement that appears to demean him (“The problem is that these directors are so disconnected from the fans that they dont know how to do half of these movies justice. Fans do.”)…secondly, use correct spelling/punctuation.

  21. Complaining about spelling/punctuation? Lol

  22. I agree with most of what you said, but I just want to say that Brett Ratner wasn’t third choice, he was more like fifth choice. As well as Bryan Singer and Matthew Vaughan, Zack Sydner and Joss Wheldon (both talented directors) were offered the director’s chair and Rob Bowman, Alex Proyas and John Moore were also in the mix.

    I can’t believe Ratner complains about Bryan Singer using his brain when making films. He is pretty much saying all he cares about is making the film look good, focusing on action and special effects, whilst Singer wanted to look at deeper themes, which makes his films films good in the first place.
    Comic-book fans want more then just action in the films, they want substances, Ratner didn’t understand that.

    Finally, the cartoon was a continuation to the comics, but it was one of the best cartoons in the 90s, I grew up with it and it made me an X-Men fan in the first place. Even the cartoon brought out the sociological themes that made the comics great and that’s why I like the X-Men media at its best.

  23. @George

    Well, when you’re trying to insult people, it’ll be good to not make a bunch of stupid mistakes while doing so… :-P Not you, I know he wasn’t talking to you specifically, just a figure of speech…

  24. nICE ARTICLE SCREENRANT, BRETT RATNER MESSE UP WITH X-MEN FRANCHISE, NOW WE GOTTA FIX IT THE UPCOMING MOVIES,WHaT I MOST HATED WAS THAT HE HAD TO KILL ALL THE CHARACTERS, JEAN,XARLIES XAVIER AND ESPECIALLY CYCLOPS , THE TRUE LEADER.
    BRETT YOU WANNA SEE WHERE RANKING
    -CRISTOPHER NOLAN
    -STEVEN SPIELBERG
    -JAMES CAMERON
    -BRYAN SINGER
    -SAM RAIMI
    sorry that one is not yours, keep going down

    -JOEL SCHUMACKER
    BRETT RATNER
    -MgM
    GAVIN HOOD

  25. I guess I’m a fake too…

    Ratner has even less respect for the source material than Singer does. This guy Ratner is full of **it and himself to say the least (**it and himself are interchangable) The X titles are intense and nuaunced X3 was a fun movie once you got passed the glaring holes in continuity it had.

    It was obvious that he had no true understanding of the characters and the essence of the X-universe. The cartoon was a watered down version of the comics and the X3 movie was obviously a watered-down version of the cartoon.

  26. Taz G says: “X3 movie was obviously a watered-down version of the cartoon.”

    That’s like saying radioactive water and fine wine are exactly the same because their liquids. ;-)

  27. I agree that X3 was the worst of the original trilogy (I think that Wolverine was slightly better, but not by much). Oh, and I love the comment Ratner made about him using his eye and instincts while Singer used his brain. Dont you love it when people say stupid things? The fact that Brian Singer used his brain on X-Men and X2 is what made them awesome. and heres something to think about.

    still, I have to comend Ratner for finishing X3 under the circumstances. Its the worst move of the four, but its not a horrible movie. It could have been much worse. just remember one thing, Ratner. if you ever make an X-Men movie again, please dont make it a giant cameo fest.

  28. I wish I could remember how I got to this page, but that was half an hour ago before reading the article and some of the replies.

    Frankly, and realizing that this is only one aspect of the argument between the author and Brett Ratner’s statements, I don’t think it’s a good idea to stick too closely to the source material in all cases.

    Film isn’t print, nor vice versa. Comic books especially, because of their nature, shouldn’t be looked at as unweilding, perfect screenplays. Some of the names and origins of characters, much less how many times they’ve died, come back, existed in parallel universes, etc, go too far beyond the suspension of disbelief to be translated into film.

    What I mean specifically is that comics ask us to suspend our disbelief of reality to accept a premise, which all fiction based movies do to some greater or lesser degree. Superman flies, Wolverine has claws, etc, etc. Now take those characters and put them into ridiculous, over the top situations and you have a typical comic book issue or arc. That works well for comics, because for most comics the intended audience is at or under puberty and the origins and storylines were created in the 1950′s. If you push it too far in film, which following the source material too closely would do for almost all comic book movies, it becomes too much for today’s audiences to accept.

    The original vs revamp of Batman is a great example. The sequels, especially after Tim Burton left the franchise, started to shove too many characters into a plotline. This made for little to no character development and set the tone for cheese that eventually resulted in “Batman and Robin”.

    The revamp asks the same of us (in terms of suspending our disbelief) that the original series did, which is that there’s a guy fighting crime to avenge the wrongdoing archetypes who were responsible for his parent’s death…oh, and he happens to be a multi billionaire in a bat-suit. Ok, fine. But where the difference lies is that in the revamp, they ask nothing more. Everyone knows who Batman is and what he’s about, so they set about to make his beginning as plausible, realistic and gritty as possible within the confines of that suspended disbelief. That not only made for a great movie, it also allowed us to enjoy the premise without pushing the envelope into stupidity. Nolan didn’t ask us to believe that every other citizen of Gotham could turn into a supervillain or superhero on the drop of a dime, which Batman and Robin pretty much did considering how crowded it was.

    Spiderman 1 & 2 vs 3 is another example. Sure, Raimy kept some corniness out of reverence to the source material (so, uh, his name was already Otto Octavious and he happens to have 4 steel tentacles fused to his spine for a grand total of 8 limbs like an Octopus…gosh that’s convenient). You can get away with a little Stan Lee cheese if the rest of the film is taken semi seriously. But Spider Man 3 suffered from Batman and Robin syndrome. “Let’s throw in everyone and the kitchen sink and spend very little time on character or plot development to please the fanboys with more villains”. Result: Not as good as the first two by a long shot.

    I don’t take issue with Ratner for X3, and I found it as entertaining as Singer’s 1 and 2. He set a premise of suspended disbelief and didn’t let it go beyond, which is far more than I can say for some other comic bok adaptations. The author of the article is mad that characters died, which doesn’t allow endless sequal after endless sequal without a reworking. He’s upset HIS characters didn’t fare better. What if there’s some huge Jean Grey fan out there who was thrilled she framed the main storyline (hey, it could happen)? Wouldn’t that person be happy with Ratners choices?

    You can’t please everyone since everyone takes something different away from the source material that they enjoy, or in the author’s case perhaps, hold dear. In my opinion (and granted, it’s just MY opinion), as long as you don’t push the envelope of stupidity, stayed relatively true (but not necessarily exact) to the source material AND made it entertaining, you did a decent job.

    Someone could re-make “Death Wish” and some fans of the original would be upset the director and producer didn’t get a Charles Bronson look-alike while others would be upset they didn’t follow the original script while still others might get bent out of shape over something as trivial as Jeff Goldblum not getting a cameo since he was in the original.

    That’s what happens when you are charged with taking something with an existing audience in one medium and transfering it to another. Not everyone will be happy. I’m not saying that X3 was a great film, just that it’s time to let it go. If the market bears another X men, one will be made, just as someone will come along and remake Superman (again) or The Hulk (again, after…again). I doubt the author of this article, were he a Hulk afficionado, would miss Ed Norton’s Hulk version even if he thought Ang Lee “destroyed the (intended) franchise”. You know you saw the 2nd Hulk and you also know you’ll go see the next X men if there is one, whether it continues from 3 or simply revamps the whole thing.

  29. This is what I have been talking about. We have been getting directors, producers, and casting directors that make films based on our characters, yet they know nothing about them. Fox is partly to blame for the lameless of our comic book movies.

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