The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

Published 7 months ago by , Updated March 11th, 2014 at 9:29 am,

 Comic Book Superhero Movie Casting Controversy Race The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

Superhero movies are the big champions of the cineplex these days –  the most steadily reliable big-buck earners Hollywood studios can put out. Casting these films is therefore a big deal; a studio has to both please a core fanbase that is very finicky about the depiction of the characters, and pick someone who can carry a mega-budget film on a global stage, drawing in big crowds all along the way.

When you lay it out like that, superhero movie casting is a really big deal for all parties involved (fans and studio) – and lately, frankly, we’ve been tossed quite a few curveballs. “Race-switch casting” has continued to court controversy, as actor Michael B. Jordan will play a black version of The Human Torch in the new Fantastic Four movie and Jamie Foxx a black version of Electro in Amazing Spider-Man 2.  Even without race-switching controversy, comic book fans have been almost as perplexed about actors like Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg being cast as characters like Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor in DC’s Batman vs. Superman movie; Michael Douglas playing an elderly Hank Pym in Marvel’s Ant-Man; or Channing Tatum possibly playing Gambit in the X-Men movieverse.

Indeed it seems that, at the moment, superhero movie casting involves more twists and surprises than an M. Night Shymalan movie – and those unpredictable choices are causing rifts all over the fanbase. For every person who is intrigued and/or patient for forthcoming evidence of an actor’s performance or a film’s quality, it seems like two more are outraged to the point of boycotting a film they have never seen, based solely on the fact that it does not fit their mold of what that comic book movie should be. But let’s be honest here: superhero movie casting is, at its core, a pragmatic and business-oriented process – one far simpler than the criticisms and conspiracies that many angered fans find catharsis in flinging all over The Internet.

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THE COMPLAINTS

The angry fanboy The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

If you don’t frequent Internet movie sites or their subsequent comment forums, then maybe (hopefully) you’ve been spared a lot of this. In case you aren’t aware, here are the top complaints fans make about Hollywood’s mis-casting of superhero movies:

  1. The filmmakers are idiots who have little knowledge and/or respect for the source material.
  2. Casting directors are idiots who don’t understand these characters – or the obvious casting choices that fans post online everyday (which should be followed without hesitation).
  3. In the case of race-switching, it is political correctness pandering meant to foster the illusion of diversity, which is disrespectful to the tradition of these characters AND the general public.

You hear these three reactions (in slightly varied forms) every time another surprising or canon-altering superhero casting announcement is made; and yet, nearly all of those same complaints seem to miss the simplest and (to me at least) most obvious fact about the casting process: It’s all about business and making the most bucks possible, and it’s a strategy that has traditionally worked.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT MOVIE BUSINESS

Movie Demographics The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

If you’ve never heard the term “demographics” allow me to elaborate: in the eyes of a business (like major movie studios) society is broken up into a pie chart. Children, adults, males, females, minority, non-minority, etc., etc… the divisions vary, but the core idea of the demo pie chart remains the same: know the playing field. Now, some businesses thrive by focusing on one sliver or section of the chart as their target demo – but major tentpole movies are NOT one those businesses. A movie that costs $100+ million ($200+ million in some cases) is trying to take as big a bite out of that demographic pie chart as possible – and casting plays a huge role in that agenda.

I don’t make the rules of human behavior (I sometimes like to pretend I do), but it is not a groundbreaking revelation to point out that things like the race, gender and the age of a cast of actors are major factors in a movie’s appeal. For example: most gross-out raunch-com movies are seen by younger people, while mature rom-coms tend to skew more toward adults. And  before you say race isn’t a factor in all this, ask yourself: how many movies with majority black casts achieve “crossover success” at the box office? (Hint: the fact that the term “crossover success” is an actual term is a sign in and of itself.) For a major tentpole, the filmmakers need to recoup every dollar possible in their race for big profits (a race that now seems to have a billion, not million-dollar finish line) – and that means tapping every pocket from as many demographic quadrants as possible to get it.

Fast and Furious 6 Cast The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

Now, a case can be made for why ‘pandering to PC standards’ or ‘affirmative-action casting’ are the enemies of true progression; but then again, there is plenty of evidence that diversity actually sells when it comes to blockbuster films. The Fast & Furious series is one of the most successful non-superhero movie franchises currently in business, and we’ve already pointed out that having one of the most diverse casts in Hollywood (black, white, Latino, Asian, and everything in between) is probably a strong indicator as to why those films are now inching toward the billion-dollar mark worldwide (key word) with each new installment. Sure, it could be the mindless action and pretty faces selling those tickets, but something tells us that allowing gearheads all over the world to see their segment of the sub-culture represented onscreen doesn’t exactly limit the movie’s appeal.

…Which brings us back to the more recent example of the Fantastic Four reboot.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT MOVIE-MAKING

fantastic four reboot josh trank The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

People like to fantasize that if Marvel Studios held the rights to ALL of its characters (like F4) then all would be well. That’s a nice fallacy, but Marvel Studios is probably the one place where they know better than anyone how problematic it is to sell a modern Fantastic Four - and no doubt Fox has had similar concerns about the overall viability of the property.

According to Diamond Comicsin January 2014 Fantastic Four was number 76 out of the top 100 comics sold for the month – which is more or less the tier it seems to be stuck on, these days. That’s to say: the readership is not all that strong. If the core source material is not scorching-hot with comic book fans, why would a studio gamble on that exact same concept selling as a major blockbuster film? It might seem strange and/or offensive to say this, but a story about an all-white family of superheroes just may not have enough wide appeal to make it in the modern global film market. That concept and setup didn’t attract a large audience to a show like ABC’s cancelled superhero family TV series No Ordinary Familywhich was essentially a re-tooled Fantastic Four. After a one-and-done TV concept and low comic book sales for the “classic” version, it’s fair to say that all-American superhero families aren’t quite the draw they used to be.

Michael B Jordan Responds to Human Torch Criticism The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

As cynical as it may seem, casting Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm has generated massive interest in this project (angry comments ARE interest, remember) – and though it may be regrettable to admit, seeing a Fantastic Four movie with a black actor in a lead role WILL secure a certain audience that would not see the movie, otherwise (“Oh, Human Torch is black now? And it’s the dude from The Wire? I’m in!“) Add to that a respected young British actor (Jamie Bell) as The Thing, and a spunky up-and-coming actress (Kate Mara) to give females a more grounded and relatable Sue Storm (as opposed to super beauty queen Jessica Alba) and already one can see where the filmmakers are going with their demographic reach: all over the chart.

DC’s Batman vs. Superman movie is pulling star-power (Affleck), international appeal (Gadot), indie/greek cred (Eisenberg) – with rumors of more diversity in the works – in order to open up their mega-tentpole to as many people customers as possible. Peel away the makeup and CGI from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy gamble and you’ll find a full-service demographic chart, including popular actors of color (Zoe Saldana, Djimon Hounsou), A-list star-power (Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel), indie/comedy cred (Chris Pratt, John C. Reilly), etc.  Captain America 2 follows the same pattern with Anthony Mackie and Robert Redford in the mix; Amazing Spider-Man 2 has Jamie Foxx and Dane Dehaan to help spread its reach… This wide-net demographic (catering, pandering, servicing – call it what you will) is simply part of the blockbuster movie game plan, and superhero movies are simply the biggest blockbusters of the day.

Meet The Guardians of the Galaxy The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

In short, this is all just Hollywood business as usual: doing what it “takes” to make big bucks.

With a film like Fantastic Four - where there are fewer characters to work with – the deviations in casting are much more apparent than, say, having Bradley Cooper’s voice behind a CGI space raccoon – or a having a character like Electro (who virtually no one has ever nominated for a “Best Supervillain” award) suddenly switch races. Regardless, the underlying principle is the same: a blockbuster film needs to have MUCH wider reach than a comic book, and when hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line, the “obligation” to “honor” the source material comes in at a distant second.

…And why not? After all, in the end, how much is fanboy happiness really worth?

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THE TRUTH ABOUT COMICS & FANS

Callie Cosplay Sue Storm Banner The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

Photo Credit: Callie Cosplay | David Love Photography

As stated before: the Fantastic Four comic book hasn’t exactly been a hot seller. Generally speaking, as a modern-day concept, F4 is shaky – whether on the comic book page or the big-screen. But then, this isn’t the first slump Fantastic Four has found itself in – and the “stunt casting” for this property started LONG before Michael B. Jordan came along. In fact, the Fantastic Four comic has been swapping original members for other (often more lucrative) Marvel superheroes for years.

Those who still read the books will tell of recent stories where Spider-Man and even (gasp) Doctor Doom were part of the team;  in the early ’90s, we got a completely  New Fantastic Four that was made up of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and Ghost Rider (guys you still see in the movies today, get it?); within the last few years, a “New Fantastic Four 2.0” included characters like Red Hulk, Venom, X-23 and Ghost Rider (again). Those rotations usually help to reinvigorate the property when the core Four have lost reader interest – and such alterations to the team lineup over the years illustrates an important reality:

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Comic books change all of the time.

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Comic fans know the term “retcon” well; it’s a term that refers to the (often drastic) changes that a new comic book creative team makes to existing canon. In terms of creative vision, comic books are like seasons: with each new creative team, a book can change to a whole different climate. Some are harsh and bad climates, others fun and pleasant – but within the medium it is generally accepted that change is not only a reality, but the norm. Somehow, that aspect of comic books is being lost in translation to film.

Fantastic Four Future Foundation and New Fantastic Four The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

The Second “New F4″ and “Future Foundation” teams

When looking at casting choices, story directions, costumes or pretty much any other aspect of comic book movies, it seems there are a lot of fans who demand to see something set in stone within their minds. However, a stone monument to a comic book property is hypocritical when comic books themselves aren’t fixated like stone, but are instead fluid like water. In other words: if comic books can shake things up, change, and present new visions of their characters and stories, why can’t comic book movies?

If Chronicle director Josh Trank drops a trailer for a wildly different (but awesome-looking) Fantastic Four movie, hardcore fans may hold out and boycott it for not sticking to canon, but a lot of average moviegoers – from a wide range of demographics – might be inspired to go see it. The same goes for the new Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor of Batman/Superman, or those strange critters from Guardians of the Galaxy. If the new movie version looks cool, the old canon will be quickly forgotten by the masses – if it was ever really known at all. Which brings us to a pivotal point regarding the future of these films.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE FUTURE

amazing spider man 2 trailer electro 1024x576 The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

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Superhero Movie Math: x > y

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At the moment, when it comes to the success of comic book movies, many fans assume “x” to represent “the core fanbase,” and “y” to represent “the general moviegoing public.” However, that’s specious reasoning. A film like this Fantastic Four reboot, if it snags mainstream appeal in a wide net of demographics – but is boycotted by the hardcore fanbase – it could be a solid success, which would forever redefine the equation above. If studios see box office results that prove “x” to be “the general moviegoing public” and “y” to be “the core fanbase”? It will be all-too apparent that radical changes to the material won’t doom a comic book movie’s chances at mainstream success; ergo, catering to fan demands will be seen as a very distant second to creating a version of the property with global appeal as a blockbuster movie.

Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

Some fans may not realize it, but we’ve already entered into this transition, and the results aren’t looking good for fanboys: Iron Man 3 pissed a lot of comic book fans off (that whole Mandarin issue) – but that didn’t stop it from reaching a billion-dollar box office payout. To many non-comic book fans, Shane Black’s version of Iron Man was a hit and the anger about the Mandarin was short-lived; Thor: The Dark World showed little sign fan backlash as it clocked over half a billion dollars worldwide. When the money is still on the table – even though fanboy love is not – studios have little motivation to cater and cow to the wishes of a niche group – a realization they seem to be quickly coming to.

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CONCLUSION

Ultimate Fantastic Four Movie Cast 2015 The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

There is no sacred mold to adhere to, anymore. Superheroes have hit the mega-mainstream and like all things in the pop-culture zeitgeist, there comes the obligation to appeal to as many people as possible. That is almost the exact opposite philosophy of the intimate niche worlds comic book writers and artists create for readers of a certain era and context – before the books inevitably evolve and change to create new and different intimate niche worlds for new generations of readers. As comic book movies age, they will carry on in the tradition of their source material inspirations and evolve and change in attempt to meet the different contexts of different eras. Superman may get edgier, Lex Luthor scrawnier, Johnny Storm blacker, or Hank Pym older, but one thing will remain constant:

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People won’t pay to see a crappy movie.

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Quicksilver X Men Days of Future Past Costume The Truth About Superhero Movie Casting

After all this serious talk, that’s really the punchline: much of this deep, social/economical/racial/philosophical debate will ultimately be decided by what these respective movies look like when the trailers and/or other promotional materials are released. If they look badass, the world (including many of the sworn boycotters) will line up to buy tickets to the No. 1 source of blockbuster movie entertainment; however, if the trailers and promo materials look like garbage – faithful to the source material or not – then even the most ardent supporters will turn on the film like Caesar at the Senate. And  if/when the box office returns are low, it’ll be back to the drawing board for the studio.

As always seems to be the case, dollars will decide – so spend wisely, rather than dogmatically.

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TAGS: ant-man, batman, batman vs superman, captain america 2, fantastic four, guardians of the galaxy, iron man 3, spider-man, superman, the amazing spider-man 2, the avengers 2, wonder woman, x-men, x-men days of future past

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  1. I counter with Batman and Robin. Nuff said.

    • Considering there was way more wrong with that movie than just casting, thats a poor counter.

      • You are probably right, there was much that was wrong with it. But, it started with a concept. That concept was flawed and it showed in every element of the movie. Batman Forever was also terrible, but at least it was relatively cheap to make. They both made some money. Nolan’s trilogy made far more.

        • Not sure if you’re still blaming casting though but with Batman & Robin, they cast Clooney because he was a popular and rising star. They already had the terrible script and costume ideas before he came in with the hope his popularity would guarantee ticket sales.

          Nolan….TDK did better than Begins but that’s because nobody expected it to be so good so they skipped Begins and it was only word of mouth and hype (mainly Joker related) that got people interested and then Ledger’s unfortunate death put even more butts in seats.

          Casting had nothing to do with those movies and their failures or successes. Hate to say it because he was the best thing about TDK but Ledger’s death was the reason TDK made as much money as it did.

          Different with The Avengers though. All the different fanbases that enjoyed RDJ, Hemsworth, Hiddleston and Evans in their solo movies all came together to make a mediocre movie when you look at its plot become a billion dollar selling movie so that’s truly a casting success story.

          • “Casting had nothing to do with those movies and their failures or successes.”

            So, in your opinion hiring an actor like Bale made no difference to the on screen portrayal of Batman?

            • No because he’s a fantastic actor but for me, in that role, he played it as I expected him to and I felt the same as I did when I saw Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer in the same role.

              • I disagree.

            • Actually I believe you could have put a number of different actors into that role and that Batman would have still be good because that Batman worked because of the writing and direction of the film. I think Bale was great as Batman, but he wasn’t great on his own.

          • I have to disagree, casting definitely had an effect on the quality of the DK trilogy and how many butts were in seats

            • The cast brought a quality to it but I wouldn’t say the casting made a difference to the majority of the audience.

              The people who were planning to see it anyway had already seen Begins and decided to go watch TDK. I’d skipped Begins because of the hate I had for Batman Forever and Batman & Robin but was interested in TDK because I found out The Joker was the main villain and being a fan of the character swayed me before I knew Heath was playing him. At that point, I had second thoughts because I knew him for crappy teen and child comedies.

              Most people only went due to a morbid fascination with his performance due to his death at the start of that year and the plot and pop culture domination of the Joker character helped TDKR.

              They had a great cast but out of the hundreds of people I knew for each movie, not many had heard of Liam Neeson pr Christian Bale for the first movie and the main draw was Sir Michael Caine and for the second, Aaron Eckhart flew under the radar because most I knew had never heard of him, even if they might have seen something he was in previously but never remembered him being in it (an accusation Philip Seymour Hoffman has received since his death with a lot of people saying “I’d never heard of him, what was he in?”).

              Tom Hardy? A workhorse actor but again, his breakout role at the time was Bronson, which again, hardly anyone had seen. Anne Hathaway received the most attention in the British press if I recall.

              • Batman Begins made over $375 million with no money from 3-D. It was a huge hit. When TDK came out it did well because it had a fan base that had grown due to positive word of mouth. Leave Heath Ledger’s death out of this. How many people do you think are that morbid? Seriously, how many?

        • You pretty much proved the authors point in yours. Nolan’s trilogy had wide speculation over casting choices with Bale as Batman and Heath as the Joker. You cannot judge a movie solely by the initial casting. And to the authors point, comics change all the time. If they introduced a young Lex or black Human Torch in a comic people would not be pissed but be like “Oh, so they are going off the _______ series of comics for this version”. And if you do not like the new FF or Superman/Batman, you will always have the comics to sit down and read. We are not making you spend your money and watch it. And the people that do like the movies, really could give a rats *** what Bat-Mite thinks about it. They would just have a new favorite movie.

          • I dont remember anything but praise for Bale, especially after he showed how hard he was working on the role. Same with Ledger, many people knew that his Joker would be great.

            Casting is part of the picture.

            • I remember people blasting the casting of Heath ledger, and I don’t remember the site that reposted it, but after the Ben Affleck casting they reposted a dozen or so negative comments that were about the casting of Heath Ledger. You are right, casting is part of the picture. But what makes movies like Batman and Robin, Batman Forever, Daredevil and Catwoman such a disaster is the writing and directing. Not the casting. People are up in arms over just the casting choices for these movies without a single trailer to back their claims. You were right, the old Batman movies did well in the box office, but at the time what did we have for a good superhero flick? Nothing. The bar has been raised since X-Men and Spiderman hit the screens. I have hope for these movies. I will see them unless I am underwhelmed with the trailers. I don’t say I won’t go just because I see a cast here or there that I disagree with. And that is not to say I am doing back flips over the recent casting for Superman/Batman. I am as perplexed as some. But like I said, if I don’t like what I see in the trailer I won’t see it or if I do see it and was disappointed, then I choose to buy it when it comes out on DVD/BR. I will always have Christopher Reeves as Superman and the DK trilogy if I am wanting my fix. Hence the reason I do not own the newest Indiana Jones movie but will always put on Holy Grail if I want my fix ;)

              • I said not everyone, not that he did not receive criticism. See the difference. I didn’t bother reading what you wrote after that.

            • American Psycho made him perfect for it.

        • @ Bat-Mite

          Imo, it started with WB wanting to take the franchise into “family friendly” direction starting w/ Batman Forever. But then again maybe it started during Batman Returns run as it was deemed too dark while McDonalds sold Happy Meal toys related to the film among other thing and then that lead to what mentioned above.

          Batman Begins, what can I say? people still had Batman & Robin in their heads which propt them not to see another Batman film like they were for Superman Returns. Most of hype on TDK success circles around Heath Ledger’s performance aswell his last film.

          Schumacher had his faults on the Batman franchise as much as WB did in the 90′s. Schumacher wanted to do Year One film but what can you expect after Batman & Robin? WB even refused to release Batman:Subzero animated film that same year because of Batman & Robin’s performance.

          • No his last film was The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and it’s really #$%^8 weird. I’ve tried to watch it couple times. It’s vaguely reminiscent of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

  2. Great article Kofi, agree 100%

    • “people won’t pay to see a crappy movie.” 100% agree

      • I wouldn’t pay to see a crappy movie either but dismissing a film based on casting when we have seen absolutely nothing from the movie itself is ignorant.

        • Who is dismissing a film based solely on casting? I realize some are, but many are basing their dislike on more than one person being cast for a role. MOS was good, but it had flaws.

          An example: in MOS after Jor-el has retrieved the ancient skull that is critical for the survival of his species he swims to the surface with it and uses the hand holding the skull to push himself out of the water. What if he had chipped it? It is a minor detail but it is a bad sign when those little details start to add up.

          So Jessie or Ben being cast could start to look like questionable decisions. Ben is 6’4″, Henry is 6′. Add the Bat ears to Ben and Batman is going to tower over Superman. It could look strange, it will either work or it won’t.

          • So in other words, irrational hatred because one actor is taller than another.

            Bane is traditionally taller than Batman but Tom Hardy’s version was a legit threat and a scary dude, despite him only being 5’9 in real life. I’m also 5’9 but have had friends who are 6’4 take me by complete surprise by saying they feel safer walking the streets when they’re walking with me. I have no idea why but height doesn’t matter at all.

            Besides, they have camera tricks.

            Tom Cruise stands on a box when he needs to be face to face with a taller actor or actress or they’ll use a low camera angled upwards to create a sense of immense height.

            • I don’t have any hatred for MOS of the sequel. I am looking forward to it. MOS had flaws but overall it was good. It will never be 1:1, it shouldn’t be. But, some things like height are basic, there are plenty of actors.

              • Plenty of actors who audition. Sometimes taller actors fit the bill better, sometimes shorter ones do. We shouldn’t be complaining about height when we have a wonderful thing happening in front of the camera, regardless whether an actor is the same height as another.

                I mean, before MOS came out, Henry Cavill did a lot of press and he looked about my build in various interviews but on screen, he looked like a Mr Universe contestant.

                And yeah, before someone comes in saying “obviously you loved MOS, your opinion is invalid”, I was the one who called it Meh Of Steel on this website after I saw it so…

                • I like Affleck. I hope he does a great job. I hope the MOS sequel is better than MOS. That is why pointing out where it has flaws is important. Filmmakers may not listen to fans in specific but they do seem to pay attention if there is enough grumbling.

                  Ben might be too tall next to Henry. It may work, it may not. I have no idea. If Ben and Henry had an amazing read through together then that is obviously a huge factor to a casting director. But, if every great read led to great movies then it would a much simpler world.

        • +1

      • Ehhh…..Grown Ups 2?

        • Someone found it funny, I have no idea how but there it is.

        • +1 to deroxstar

        • All of the Transformers movies….

  3. Well written. Nicely done.

  4. It´s not boycott, it´s just that we are not going to watch a movie we are not interested in.

  5. That doesn’t mean that we have to back all the film projects by blind faith as many people do.

    The stories in comics might change, the writers might change the background of the characters simply to sell more but the original ideas and concepts are there and those are the ones which are timeless. I have read some of the ultimates’ comics and I can tell you, I don’t like them. There are also other people that don’t like the new 52 and so on.

    I am certain that I will not see the F4 nor will I endorse the new Bats vs the weary Batfleck.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. Even non comic book movies/tv shows try to do this.

  7. Well, you said it best, man. Anyone still willing to disagree, good luck with that because you’ll never win that argument.

    I mean, take Guardians.

    When I staffed Bautista’s official message boards, we had upwards of 5000 members as a minimum who would only ever watch something if he was in it (most never tuned into Smallville with the exception of that one episode he featured in, even if he was only in it for 5 minutes).

    That means those fans (and many other millions worldwide who are fans of his and follow pro wrestling online or on TV) will go see Guardians because he’s in it.

    The LEGO Movie has done phenomenally so they’ll likely use that in press releases to let people know “hey, our lead is the lead from that Lego movie you all loved” so again, people may go out of curiosity due to that too.

    Gal Gadot? She gained more Facebook fans after she was announced as Wonder Woman.

    I still don’t see what’s so bad about Ben Affleck as Batman since he’s played Bruce Wayne for most of his career and has the traditional look most people wanted before Christian Bale became a big hit in the same role a decade ago (strong jawline and big chin with an attractive quality to him and a thick build, in fact I’d say Affleck looked kinda like The Animated Series version of Bruce before he had to start bulking up for this movie).

    I’ve started feeling the same thing I did about comic book fans as I have for the past decade about pro wrestling fans (despite being a fan of both things myself my entire life)….that they have absolutely no idea what they want and no clue how things actually work while wrapped up in their own fantasy casting/booking who then get irrationally angry when things don’t happen the way they’d fantasised it happening.

    • well said.

  8. The truth is that warners,fox and sony never had a plan to begin with until they started copying
    Marvels universe making platform.
    1. Sony- casting jamie fox as electro is to keep up with war-machine and the newly minted
    falcon and desperate attempt to get to a billion.
    2. Fox- what can i say, this will go down as most expensive dragqueen costumes they are putting
    On some of these characters, 250 million film looks like a 25,000 dollar film.
    3. Warners- while fox and sony will never catchup with DC, warner’s lack of leadership as a person
    who is architect of their universe missed a golden opportunity this year to finish ahead of pack
    And possibly at least an honorable mention for 2015 before their next MOS movie in 2016.

    • 1. Or bringing in an Oscar winner in a role they felt he could portray the best after auditioning countless others and finding the quality they were looking for in Foxx

      2. I agree the costumes look ridiculous for a lot of the cast but they’ll likely have a reason for it and even if they do, costumes aren’t make-or-break. Look at any character from the books who looks like crap or with a dumb costume and tell me whether the costume makes the man/woman more than their personality traits and the overall story.

      I say this as someone who has recently read the debut stories for a lot of Marvel characters (Spider-Man, X-Men, The Avengers, The Hulk, Daredevil, Ant-Man, Iron Man, Fantastic Four) and had a headache from all the eye-rolling I’ve been doing over the absolutely corny dialogue and ridiculous use of exposition. If I’d read those comics back in the day, I wouldn’t have given them a second chance and look how wrong I’d have been there decades later.

      3. I thought they had Snyder and Goyer as their main architects yet people on this site complained, especially about Goyer?

    • Warners have been making Superhero movies since 1978 and Fox since 2000 and Sony since 2002. I think Warners knew they could make a DC comic universe, they unfortunately had other things coming up such as Harry Potter and the fact that Nolan didn’t want his Batman to be connected to any shared universe. And as Mark Millar rightly pointed out, why not shouldn’t other studios copy.

  9. I feel like this whole article can be summed up with three words:

    DEAL WITH IT

    • Yup, but does anyone here actually think that they have an influence over casting decisions? The only real influence anyone has is with their wallet.

    • +1000!

  10. Gotta love Kofi Outlaw articles. They’re always the best on movie sites in my opinion.

    • +1000

  11. so true. facts that many don’t realize. Making movies is a business first and foremoset and thus far these types of movies have really done a decent job at appeasing vast demographics/x and y groups. Credence to caution though. Very well done. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Feel like I was in school again though. ha. long but good! Will share!

  12. 1. The filmmakers are idiots who have little knowledge and/or respect for the source material.

    2. Casting directors are idiots who don’t understand these characters – or the obvious casting choices that fans post online everyday (which should be followed without hesitation).

    3.In the case of race-switching, it is political correctness pandering meant to foster the illusion of diversity, which is disrespectful to the tradition of these characters AND the general public.

    ALL of these things are still true, except that part about “followed without hesitation” which felt more like a cheap shot at fans by the author.

    • False and you are naive to believe that. Times are different now than in the 80′s. Comic book characters are mainstream enough that the people behind the scenes of these movies are the SAME people that used to (or sometimes still do) write the books and are huge fans themselves. I.e. Mark Millar, Joss Whedon, David S Goyer, etc. All are enormous fans and some even wrote the comics you claim they know nothing about.

    • Just “that” felt like a cheap shot lol the whole thing has undertones of %^&*you fanboys lol

  13. I agree with many of the points raised in this article. I remember reading an interview Bryan Singer did just before the firs X-Men movie came out, addressing fan criticism over the costume changes he made. There are certain things hat work well in comics that just wouldn’t work on screen; comics are 2d works of art after all and only limited in scope b the imagination and creativity of the artists/writers involved. This is particularly true with costumes, but this is something that I think many comic book fans have to come to accept.

    With regards to casting changes, obviously it depends on the character; you really could change the ethnicity of someone like Black Panther for instance. But we should remember the world as it was when the majority of these characters were created. Ethnic minorities were still deeply entrenched in the struggle for equal rights in society, a far cry from the world as it is today (a black US president and ethnic minorities being successful and having equality in all aspects of society, for the most part).

    As the article states, the all-american family, like Fantastic Four, worked as a concept back in the 60s and while that ideology may still exist to this day, society as a whole has moved on. There is a lot more diversity around and while in the past an interracial family or ethnically diverse communities may have been unusual, it’s more than commonplace these days (I should point out that I’m writing this from a UK perspective).

    So for all the anger that may have come from fans at having Laurence Fishburne play Perry White or Michael B Jordan as the Human Torch, I think we, as a group of fans who may love the source material, must realise that movies are not simply the comic books come to life; they are a very different medium with which these characters can inhabit and tell new and original stories. As long as the best ACTOR is in the part, that should be the main cause for concern. I realise that changing the ethnicity of brother/sister relationship COULD pose problems, I think if we take a step back and think about it logically (and look at celebrity families like brangelina or madonna) we will see that in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really a big deal.

    • People also forget that a Latina played Sue Storm while Johnny was white in the last FF movies, that Harvey Dent was black in the Burton Batman movies, that the second Union Jack was mentioned as a Formula 1 driver in IM2 despite having never been one in the comics, the original Union Jack was never in The Howling Commandos but he was in Captain America: The First Avenger, there wasn’t an Asian in The Warriors Three.

      Does any of it matter?

      Nope. Not one bit.

      Besides, if Batman & Robin would’ve been popular, the next movie would have starred Madonna as Harley Quinn with her back story changed to be Joker’s daughter out for revenge after Joker’s death in the first Tim Burton movie. Think how lucky we are that never happened.

  14. Great article, Kofi. Nice reading break for the work afternoon.

  15. Great article Kofi. Very deep and insightful! Keep em coming.

  16. People also seem to forget that when most of these characters were created, they weren’t created for or by several different races of people. They were written by white guys for white guys. That’s why the majority of them are white, and the only characters of different skin color represent certain aspects. (Black Panther, anyone?) Of course, more recently that’s changed, but the point is, there’s no reason why characters can’t change skin color when it works and doesn’t screw anything up.

    A black Human Torch will not change anything other than name, (Blood brother to step brother) a black Electro won’t change anything at all, and even changes in just character personality or background won’t really change anything if it works properly. And we won’t know if it works properly until the movies come out.

    • This says it all so clearly. For the great majority of the characters created in the silver age ethnicity was completely irrelevant. It’s not a defining characteristic. If there is any respect for the source material (and the article explains why there probably isn’t beyond what is needed to capitalize on the brand associated with a character), that respect should be for the defining core, not the irrelevant historical accidents.

  17. kofi speaks the truth! Great article man

    tho, I still have a hard time taking dofp pietro’s design seriously :P

  18. Great article. I think for movies vs comics insofar as retcons and story “fluidity” as is refered in the article, most likely boils down to the medium in which it is presented and its impact or significance to the fanbase. I think when dealing with movies there is a pre-existing bias towards a film being the “deffinitive interpretation” of any given property due to its rarity and exposure. Comics come and go and many characters appear in multiple comics every month. It dilutes its value somewhat and enables fans to justify deviations from accepted canon since something new will come around the following month, or a new writer will come in a fix things or interpret it differently etc. Case and point, most fans have their “favorite” runs of titles based on this, but for movies if its not very succesful that might be the only time a fan’s favorite character will ever get worldwide attention and exposure. Fans want their devotion whether be to a comics book character, a sport team etc to be rewarded. Deep down I think fans just really care about properties they’ve grown up with and just want the films to represent the best possible version of said properties to the world. When fans get upset it’s intrinsically a fear response to the possibility that their beloved property wont be showcased properlly to the world at large.

  19. My complaints about the Fantastic Four movie have nothing to do with the fact that Michael B Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm. My complaint is that Johnny and Sue are 100% blood brother/sister, so if you cast one as black you HAVE to cast the other as black. Why, instead, are we being treated to quite possibly the most stereotypically 2010′s cast I’ve ever seen? Now, I like Kate Mara in House of Cards. But I just don’t see her as Sue Storm, not when Michael B Jordan is Johnny. In addition, Sue Storm should at least LOOK younger than Reed Richards, who may only be older than her by a few years, but Miles Teller looks at least 6 years younger than Kate Mara. Finally, you’ve got a scrawny little Brit playing former Yancy Street Gang member AND former Linebacker Benjamin Grimm. How the hell is a guy that’s 5’7″ and looks like he weighs about as much as my thigh going to be a good choice for Ben Grimm? I know, some will argue that “The Thing is gonna be CGI” and that’s fine. But Ben Grimm was a big guy BEFORE he became the Thing.

    Maybe this is all just me wanting to vent my frustrations, because it really doesn’t matter. I will not see this movie. I have begun a personal boycott of Fox’s Marvel projects. I have not, and will not, watch The Wolverine. I will not watch Days of Future Past. And I will not watch this or any other Fox/Marvel movie they make in the future. Why? Because of their threat to sue Marvel/Disney if they even hint at X-Gene style Mutations in their movies, claiming the X-Men are Fox’s property and Disney has no right to use them. Also, this half assed F4 is only being made so Fox can continue to clutch to the rights of the Fantastic Four, rather than let them revert to Marvel. It just seems to me that Fox is being the bitter Ex, since Fox used to make Star Wars movies, and now Disney owns Star Wars.

    • I agree… But I did like The Wolverine…

      • Me too, it was the only good X-Men movie I’ve seen.

  20. This. This all makes too much sense. Well done, Kofi.

  21. Ironman only made that much money because of this success of the avengers. Movie itself isn’t even that great. What trailer these days doesn’t look like the movies going to be good only to then see the movie and be disappointed. It’s Called marketing which every movie studio relies on now, bad movie or not. Say what you want screen rant but so far most of the comic movies By these studios never follow the source material and almost always the movies suck s***. I’m not saying stick to every line Word for word but almost always it’s a complete deviation from the source material that then makes it unrecognizable of what it was which was the reason anyone went to see it in the first place. Ever thought what it would be like if they stuck to the source material and put out an actual great story?? It would still make the money that these bad movies make anyway it would still please comic fans and average moviegoers alike. Lord of the rings left out some things and took little liberties but for the most part follow the source material look great those movies are. Demographics are only a cowards way to make a movie and with great characters and great stories demographics are useless. These movies don’t follow source material mostly because of the egos in the suits and egos behind the camera.

  22. “a blockbuster film needs to have MUCH wider reach than a comic book, and when hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line, the “obligation” to “honor” the source material comes in at a distant second”

    If that is the case why ruin a comic book story with Hollywood BS. Maybe they should come up with their own original stories and characters. Why would they need a comic source to draw from?
    The idea that a “larger, more mainstream” audience needs statistical racial harmony is absurd. Mainstream audiences may not be into comic books, but that doesnt mean the comic version will not be entertaining on the big screen. Hollywood always finds a way to CHEAPEN a character, not add to it.
    I seriously doubt this has anything to do with pragmatism, or profits. The article seems to me to be a “shut up you comic book fans, you are not worth our time”

    • Well said.

    • I also see that many of these articles from SR really pander to the studios. It seems in many cases Hollywood does not make questionable decisions in the eyes of the staff writers.

    • Maybe you comic book fans should shut up. All your moaning is getting a little tired at this stage.

    • well said indeed, it seems screenrant has just chosen a side, hey did u guys get a payoff???? #$$$$$$

    • I haven’t read a comic book on over 20 something years and I’m one of those guys who believe that you don’t have to change the source material to make it interesting to a wider audience. I believe you can take characters like the Fantastic Four and keep them as they are, but give them a great story and if the movie is good then people will like it. The previous two movies were in my opinion horrible, but it wasn’t because of the characters, it was because the writing and over all movie was horrible.

  23. Kofi, your conclusion is the best thing I read from you since I’ve been coming to this site.

    I think it’s fair expect some people to take pause with some casting choices, I mean out of left field IS out of left field, right?

    You’re absolutely right, until a trailer drops, there is no needs to $hit our collective pants and jump off a bridge over casting.

  24. Nice article and great effort. But it still doesn’t sway me in the least bit.

    You cannot say poeples’ preferences are right or wrong.

    I’d like to see a staff article arguing against this one. Your conclusion is basically characters change in the comic world, so it’s not a stretch to do it in movies. I get that.

    But changes can have both positive and negative audience reactions (obviously). Making unnecessary changes typically have really negative reactions (New 52, Schumacher’s Bat n!pples, British pen!s-head Juggernaut, etc…).

    Also, your examples of “x > y” are wrong. IM3 was built on the success of the first two movies AND terrific marketing. That does not validate making the Mandarin a fop. And what was controversial about Thor: The Dark World? Nothing. There was no one miscast in that. It was true to it’s source material (for those characters that are in the comics).

    Another reason IS x > y, is the fanboy buzz that gets generated. I talk about Guardians of the Galaxy often at work. I have shown the trailer to people who know nothing about it and then they get excited about it. That can work the other way too. I have told people to stay away from certain movies that have strayed really far from the material or if it’s a really bad premise (Ghost Rider 2, X-Men 3 and, yes.. IM3). So, where you say the fan base has no value, you are 100% wrong.

  25. In a way, we comic book fans DO need to shut up and relax. Comic books have been made into films for decades and they will for years going forward. They won’t stop anytime soon and we should just embrace it and be happy. Watchmen and Sin City were the only scene for scene CBM’s I’ve seen and everything else will be made as the studios see fit. Just be happy these movies are being made at all.

  26. So if China or India become strong economies in the world and business tycoons there buy properties such as Disney or DC, is going to be ok to see an Indian playing Superman or a Chinese actor playing Iron Man just because it is good for business and for Hollywood?

    • They’ve had an Indian Superman… A Japanese Spiderman too.

      • I’d love to see Batwing make his movie debut at some point now you mention Japanese superheroes.

      • I have always wondered why no one has done an Elseworlds where Gotham is based on Moscow. That could be interesting.

    • Why does it matter? I couldn’t care less what color skin they have or where they’re from. All that matters is how well they’re written and how well the actor portrays them.

      • This is the problem right here. “what color skin they have or where they’re from.”

        Ethnicity is not just color. People aren’t little paint by number pictures. A black Johnny that grew up in New York with a white sister is going to have a completely different life experience and be a completely different person from a blue-eyed, blonde-haired white Johnny. This type of change needs to be addressed in characterization: how would that have affected them growing up, how would their experiences growing up in that kind of life change their relationship with each other? Otherwise, why did you do it?

        As it stands, Hollywood typically treats ethnicity changes with the same attitude, like it’s just a color and nothing else. They usually just treat a race change as if he’s a white guy who happens to have black skin. They might throw in a few race jokes here and there and that’s it.

        Who knows, maybe they won’t even be related in this iteration. If they’re going to change it so much though, then the real question is… why bother rebooting FF anyway? The first two movies weren’t great successes, the comics aren’t nearly Marvel’s biggest sellers… oh right, FF is the only other superhero team besides X-Men that Fox still has rights to. They’re probably going to do a sequel and then another reboot just like Sony is doing with Spider-Man so they can retain character rights until they milk the FF dry.

    • u do realise Marvel comics made Indian version of Spider-Man

  27. I think most comic book fans forget that 90% of the revenue from these movies comes from people who have never opened a comic book. Staying true to the source material is much less important when most of the audience never knew that Johnny Storm wasn’t black in the comics. The average viewer gets most of their information on the characters from the movies they see, not the comic books that they don’t read.

    • You can bet we have a pretty good guess what does the character most justice, I don’t see a whole hell of a lot I don’t agree with around here, asides from recently.

  28. Interesting Point Kofi. Very interesting point.

  29. Comic book movies and the studios that create them are about business and money. If you don’t like the films made you can cos-play it up in your back yards and make your own versions.

    • When did Steve Rogers become a little dictator? haha

      This site is called screen rant, not screen sycophants.

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