Beware The “Expert”
A lot of fanboys love to show off their “expertise” when it comes to talking about comic book source material. Our X-Men: First Class comment threads are just packed with fanboys breaking down every single minor detail of how Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming interpretation of the X-Men’s early years doesn’t match the continuity of the comics or even the previous X-Men movies. (Havok is SUPPOSED to be Cyclops’ brother! The X-Men in the film weren’t on the original team! Who is this “Angel Salvadore” girl in the film? How can this film possibly tie with Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie?)
We should all remain wary of so-called “comic book continuity experts.” As someone who has read comic books for decades now (including stories going back before my birth) and who now spends part of his work day reading entire histories of comic book storylines from past to present day, I can tell you: nobody has it all figured out.
Fanboys asking “Who is Angel Salvadore?” obviously aren’t fanboy-official enough to know about Grant Morrison’s early 2000s run on New X-Men, where that character first appeared. Many people who were offended when Ryan Reynolds was cast as Green Lantern swore up and down that the filmmakers were racist because Green Lantern “was obviously an African-American character,” as evidenced by the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series. Nevermind the extensive history of the multiple Earth men who have carried the GL mantle - those cries of racism came from people who “knew the character” and “knew his history”…or so they thought.
The fact of the matter is, comic book lore is a winding road wrought with many driveways leading to decades-old houses. Depending on their heyday, fanboys of different eras will each swear to a different understanding of a comic book character; some people remember campy ’60s and ’70s Batman and Robin, while others have a memory of Bats that is dominated by the darker and grittier version of the hero from the ’80s. Fans like myself remember the mix of good and bad ideas that were put into play as ’90s-era creators tried to “update” The Dark Knight for the new Millennium (raise your hand if you remember the AzBat armor design – versions 1 and 2). In reality, if ’70s-era Bat-fan, ’80s-era Bat-fan and me, Mr. ’90s-era Bat-fan, all sat down to compete in a Batman trivia game, we would all likely drop knowledge about our respective eras of expertise…and that’s it.
Only the geekiest of comic book fanboy Warlords truly has it all mapped out – and those are rare birds, if ever there were any. But selling a movie to a rare breed of birds isn’t really a good idea when said film costs tens of millions of dollars to make and market. In the case of Hollywood, filmmakers are trying to snag whole flocks of birds – rare breeds be damned – and why shouldn’t they?
Is a geek who knows every little single thing about half a century of comic book stories ever going to be fully satisfied with the limited storytelling of a two-hour feature film? Not likely. For such a person there will always be something missing, something that could’ve been better, or some understanding of the hero and his story that could’ve been better served. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the mistake a fan that dedicated made in the first place was ever believing that a movie can hold as much depth as great literature – be it a comic book, or a novel adapted for the screen. Some things are inevitably lost in translation.
Although it may sound like I’m being harsh on the fanboy community here, please do remember that I (and we here at Screen Rant) are all too aware that we are super-duper geeks ourselves, and that our site is sustained by the loyalty of geeks and fanboys all over the world. We love you guys .
Sure, I might be playing devil’s advocate, pushing ideas about why Hollywood suits don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) listen to the fanboy community in order to make financially successful comic book movies. However, soon enough I’ll be right back in the mosh pit, letting Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder know everything that I think is wrong with the promo materials for The Avengers and Superman: Man of Steel that they release!
That’s us here at Screen Rant – fair and balanced opinions that will likely set off a wildfire in the comments section. In fact, I think I see a few sparks igniting right about now… . We’re dying to hear your thoughts here, on our Twitter page or on our Facebook Wall.