Should Hollywood Listen to Fanboys About Comic Book Movies?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 7:06 am,

The angry fanboy Should Hollywood Listen to Fanboys About Comic Book Movies?
As any member of the Screen Rant team can tell you, comic book movies are a volatile topic. For every new post we do about upcoming super hero films like The Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men: First Class, Ant-Man, The Punisher, The Dark Knight Rises, Superman: Man of SteelGreen Lantern, Thor, Captain America, or The Avengers – no matter if it’s news, images, posters, or trailers – we often get a plethora of impassioned (or downright hostile) responses from the fanboy/fangirl community, which is o so protective of the superhero creations they worship.

After years spent engaging the opinions of fanboys and fangirls all over the world, there’s one conclusion that I (and many among the Screen Rant staff) have come to: fanboy enthusiasm and reverence aren’t necessarily the key ingredients to making a financially and critically successful comic book movie. Making superhero movies that honor the core essence of the source material, while transforming comic book tropes into more widely appealing cinematic tropes is, in fact, a much better approach – whether the fanboy community likes it or not.

The geek era has been great for superhero enthusiasts everywhere – as well as those geeks who have found new career opportunities in the expanding market of geek lifestyle and entertainment. If not for the new role of “geek chic” in mainstream media, we here at Screen Rant probably wouldn’t even be able to do what it is we do everyday (and it’s a pretty sweet gig, let me tell you :-)).

While I’ve loved seeing some of my favorite heroes from the comic book page find life (or renewed life) on the screen, like any great social trend, comic book movies have given rise to a perpetual cycle of knee-jerk reactions and misguided notions that fanboys and girls plaster the Internet with, every time another comic book movie takes a half-step forward in development.

This fanboy outcry wouldn’t be an issue  if Hollywood didn’t care about fanboy opinion – but anybody who has been to the San Diego Comic Con in the last few years and seen the pandering to fanboys that occurs there, knows: When it comes to geek movies and merchandising, Hollywood is still trying hard to court what they view as a loyal, established, customer base. And although I may have my head severed for it, today I’m going to question whether Hollywood should stop trying to court the fanboy/fangirl community for their superhero movie releases, and instead focus on making comic book movies more appealing (read: profitable) to the larger demographic of moviegoers who DON’T engage in Cosplay at least once a year.

If you haven’t already jumped to the comments in an attempt to slay me verbally, I’m sure you soon will. In the meantime…

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The Most Fickle Fans

Comic Book Movies Fanboy Should Hollywood Listen to Fanboys About Comic Book Movies?

Check any Screen Rant post about a new comic book movie image or trailer (see: X-Men:First Class, Green Lantern and Captain America for recent examples…), and you’ll see a comment section in which every single detail is dissected, over-analyzed and criticized to death – often before a full look at the completed film is ever made available to the public.

Now, please don’t misunderstand: I don’t mind that fanboys have opinions. Part of what I like about my job here at Screen Rant is engaging passionate fans about their opinions of geek films. Sure, saying that a movie is either terrible or great based on half an image or an early trailer is specious reasoning at best, but if the studios didn’t want to stir that hornets nest they should only release the most carefully designed and polished promotional materials for their respective superhero movies. However, I doubt that anyone could truly map the fickle nature of some fanboy and girls’ opinions: You know the type I’m describing – the ones who go from “I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!” to “OMG, it looks so awesome, I love it!” in the span of one well-designed trailer.

If we had nickels for every fanboy who posted comments swearing up and down that they will never see a particular comic book movie because a studio “ruined it,” only to later turn around and post a comment about how much they actually enjoyed the movie, we’d probably be the wealthiest site on the Internet. The same goes for the reverse case: fans who swore something was going to be awesome, only to be let down by the final product.

Now this is nothing new for movies – promotional materials like trailers and posters can often be (purposely) misleading and can lead to moviegoers having the wrong impression about a film. The danger with geek movies is that the fanboy community has much more input and influence (thanks to the Internet) over how these films get greenlit, developed and marketed.

x men first class trailer Should Hollywood Listen to Fanboys About Comic Book Movies?

The tide of opinion is already shifting over 'X-Men: First Class'.

Sure, a lot of fans may not think that 20th Century Fox gives a damn about how they feel about the X-Men franchise – but it’s undeniable that on the whole, studios listen to fanboys about superhero movies more than they listen to young couples’ assessment of the latest trends in romantic comedies. But when you have the ear of those in power, it’s important to have something reasonable and insightful to say. Knee-jerk reactions and flip-flop opinions don’t really help anybody, which is why I say Hollywood should always take fanboy opinion with a HUGE grain of salt.

In the end, a movie’s success is really going to depend on whether the average person thinks Spider-Man or Thor or Green Lantern “Look cool” – not the list of costume discrepancies Mr. Online Fanboy blogs about. Studios should be more concerned about whether or not the average person is taking notice of their superhero films, and what those people’s opinions are. Because in the end, it’s the opinion of the average moviegoer that will likely determine the box office returns…

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Continue to fanboys as a niche market…

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TAGS: agents of shield, ant-man, batman, captain america, ghost rider 2, green lantern, iron man 3, superman, superman man of steel, the avengers, the dark knight rises, the flash, the punisher, thor, wonder woman, x-men, x-men: first class

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  1. They should listen to the fans not the fanboys.

    • Even then, the last time a studio listened to the fans we got Spider-Man 3 lol

      • Exactly! The studio forced in Venom b/c of his popularity. Of course, there were more problems with that film than just Venom.

      • The best example

      • And they also listened to fanboys for “Snakes on a Plane.” And I think we know how that turned out.

        • it true out great cause we heard the best line in a movie

          • But the fanboys didn’t show up, fans didn’t really show up, and the movie was a box office failure. The buzz about it didn’t translate into box office bucks.

            • They should do the bruce timm – paul dini approach to make a really great comic book film. the reason why Mask of the phantasm failed was poor marketing and it was up against THE LION KING. Or they copuld follow what Pixar did to the incredibles.

  2. NO!!! Most fanboys want them to be exactly like the comics, and will complain over the smallest of changes.

    • Yeah, you can’t please everyone, most especially fanboys, this is why it’s very hard to make a successful comic book movie. It has histories which is full of retcons, and some fanboys have limited knowledge of the long history. Movie producers should listen more to the comic book writers themselves on which storyline made the comic popular and base the plot from there. The reason general audience think the nolan films were successful was because of the grit and dark tones, but iron man wasn’t gritty and neither was spiderman. These films were based on highly regarded comic book storylines. You should also have a huge load of marketing for obscure comic book heroes to make it in film.

  3. Yes and No. Yes because without the fanboys, they wouldn’t put forth the effort to get it right.We’d still be stuck with Nippled Batman. No because some fanboys want everything, no matter how irrelevant something is to a story, they want it. Venom in Spiderman 3, there was no need for him, but the fanboys wouldn’t shut up about wanting him and thus the movie became scrambled eggs.

    • So venom is the reason SM 3 failed?? Not that it was badly written and Rami kept making the SM he wanted and not what was in the classic comics? Keep shoveling money into Hollywoods pocket and maybe they will give you one good movie every few years.

  4. I think Hollywood really underestimates their audience. Superhero movies would be just as financially successful, yet possibly more critically acclaimed if the studios relied on the original stories that made them so engrossing in the first place.

    • That’s your inner (or outer or all over) fanboy talking. I’ve sampled thousands of comics spanning every decade. I’m the typical older fan who buys collected reprints of stories I read as a kid. The truth is they are often silly and simplistic. Turns out that what was so “engrossing” was mostly our imaginations. There’s a lot of silly plot devices and dialoge. How many long expositions have we read with a Superhero suspended in the air about to deliver a punch to a villian? I still like them, don’t get me wrong. Also, the entire budget for a movie could easily be blown reproducing a few pages from the comics. This post is pretty dead-on.

      Now if I had a billion dollars I’d gather up the fanniest fanboys and let them make thier movie. It would stand as an example of how not to make a movie, and allow filmakers to make movies.

  5. They should listen to the fans not the fanboys. [2]

    But the sucess of a CB Movie deppends who they come closer to the roots of the source material, but give freedom to the artists work in the better way poossible,not worried about who they looks or this caracther will be or not, and CB’ cronology, and bring some satisfied for the fans and general audiences.

    • yeah, remember when eric foreman was venom? remember when professor x and cyclops were killed? remember when elektra was in daredevil? keep listening to fans huh?

      • A

        Would you mind showing me the fans where the fans were saying to make Topher venom or to kill cyclops? I don’t remember hearing one actual comic book fan saying either of those things. Those are in fact perfect examples of what happens when they ignore fans. After x1 and X2 the fans were begging for more cyclops so they killed him instead.

  6. You will never please a fanboy.

    Don’t even try.

    If you cut anything out, you will be criticized. If you leave everything in, they’ll say it’s too long. If you add anything. . .well, don’t add anything, even if it makes the story better and/or makes it more understandable for the audience – this will only enrage them.

    I could name some specific examples where filmmakers tried to please the fanboys and alienated the general public (*cough*Kick-Ass*cough*), but I fear that if I get into specifics I will be hunted down and murdered in some comic-book-esque manner.

    Yes, stay as close to the source material as possible, but realize that fanboys are only a small percentage of the box office gross and that not everything in literature lends itself well to the screen.

    Stop this fanboy worship, Hollywood! Before it’s too late and we’re subjected to films of people just reading the comic book!

    • Many people like to diss fanboys but these are the people that keep a franchise living and breathing. Sure you can’t please everyone, but it’s best to get the best of both worlds, the genereal fans and fanboys world. this isn’t avatar where you can just put any story you like and just foces on 3D, Comic books have history. you can’t just make superman wear a mask when he’s fighting, you can’t have batman shooting lasers out of his eyes.

  7. they should hire an elite team of fanboys to use as consultants. No real power but have their input considered.

    • Now that sounds like an idea for a movie I’d see.

  8. It comes down to this for me , its not so much about everything being exactly like the source material, its more of are the keeping the spirit of the character. Thats what I look for, I didnt mind the changes in most of the CBMs but there are some I had outright problems with at least in part, Wolverine, Doom in the FF, Superman returns , Joel Schumacher’s Batmans, the original Punisher, Catwoman, and X3 to name a few. However I just want to say its not just comics , its regular literature and adaptions in general, see here s the issue, the book, game,or comic, was great to begin with , which was the reason someone decided by the rights to the property to begin with. Yet the first thing the studios or director want to do is tear it apart and make it some thing that is barely recognizable to the source, thats just wrong. This is the reason so mant Authors dont want the properties touched. I mean look at the number of Ny best sellers that have been made into movies and then look at how many of them are actually any good, very few.

    • I couldnt have said it better. I have in fact been saying the same thing for 20 years and nothing has ever changed.

    • Never judge a book by its movie…

      • nowhereman,

        Well said. :)

        Vic

  9. I see a lot of slams against fanboy’s here but answer me this, who are the first people that the studios start to court the moment they announce one of their “new” comic or super hero movies about to come out? Are they making movies and then sending out trailers to see how the general public likes it?? NO, they are going to ComiCon and hosting panels and selling the film long before it even goes into production. Then they send tons of stories out to sites like this one floating the idea to see if it has any weight. They host contests and give away free swag to diehard fans of the source material and do crossover promotions with the titles they pulled the idea from. So if Hollywood doesn’t want to hear about how they took a solid comic or book character, one with millions of fans and then rewrote the character and story to where it is nothing like what the source material was like, stop. Simply make the movie and then release a trailer and hope for the best. But Hollywood is full of gutless wonders who want to please everyone and then blame the fanboy’s when their badly written, poorly acted and horribly scripted film bombs.

  10. I’m actually offended by the demeaning terms Fanboy and Geek. I’m neither, but many would consider me one.

    I simply have interests. Like someone hunts, or plays chess or collects race cars.

    For 38 years I’ve loved all things comic, sci-fi, fantasy… but what gives my opinions clout is education. Degrees in Geography & English as well as theatre and visual arts.

    As Wolvy said to Gambit, “Cajun, I hope you can back up those words with more’n a grin.”

    I know a movie that too faithfully follows the comic will fail, it is a different medium after all, but the one’s that respect the source material will last, and get praise from both fans and ignorant movie goers.

    But for a REAL “fanboy” rant, look at my recent post on the Ghost Rider 2 thread, and Kofi, you are walking on dangerous ground here. Kudos, brave one.

    • Very well said Pitt Man couldn’t agree more.

  11. “to the larger demographic of moviegoers who DON’T engage in Cosplay at least once a year.”
    I thought this was pretty funny.

    The article is pretty agreeable and all that, but I don’t know the first thing about any comics outside of Deadpool and the occasional graphic novel.

  12. If Chris Nolan listened to fanboys, I don’t think that he would make the changes to the Batman mythology- especially the villains- that were/are necessary to make his Bat-franchise truly special.

    • Nolan’s films are closer to the source material than the majority of comic films. He made changes but the spirit of all the characters is the same and he even used comics directly from the story rather than just make up his own.

  13. I have been a Trekker for many years, and even though Star Trek is not a comic book (although there was a Trek comic), I am a huge Trek fanboy. I can tell you nearly everything wrong with the last Trek movie, and I still liked it. I agree with this article 100%. Fanboys really need to get a grip; I remember fans of X-Men complaining about Hugh Jackman was too tall for Wolverine but now Hugh is Wolverine. When I first heard of X-Men: FC and the changes that were being made, I to was up in arms….until I saw the trailer. As long as the writer and director can give us an entertaining story that stays true to the source material, I’m for it.

  14. Obviously you shouldn’t have a job, because it is “fanboys” that keep all these stupid websites running, buy the comics (that lead to the creation of the movie), which lead to the job you have of the very basic function of writing about what you think about that said movie. Therefore the mere existence of your livelihood is in debt to fan boys, maybe you should bow to us?

    • Nice Rant Deftik!

      Clearly you did NOT read the end of the article :-D

      • In his defeanse your giant FANBOY rant is four pages long. Right around the middle it starts to get repetitive and dull and just sounds like the fanboy whining that your complaining about.

  15. I am a a Fanboy and I am NOT bowing to my brethren!

  16. Here is an interesting idea… How about instead of listening to the fans or fanboys… How’s about STAYING FAITHFUL TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL!

    • But should they take your advice? (Someone ought to write a blogpost about that issue).

  17. Amen Caleb!
    -If you look at the big picture a lot of studios don’t respect the source material, but they try to sell it as so, and you almost always end up watching a mockery.
    Comic book to film adaptations deserve to be done right because some people devote their entire lives to collecting and reading these stories, it’s disrespectful to them to bring these characters to life and change what doesn’t need to be changed. When you have a 30 million dollar budget there is NO excuse why you would cut corners and not get names right names.

    Do I think studios should listen to the fans? Yes
    But i also believe that only a fan should direct a comic to film adaptation Ala- Snyder, Del Torro, Nolan.

    Revisit the Watchmen movie, that movie is solid gold, it did poor at the box office, but it was made out of love for the source material.

  18. “Fanboys” made these characters what they are, If you’re not going to respect their opinion on the subject, try getting up and reading an actual book yourself and then watching as someone makes a movie about it where the only thing it has in common with the book is the names of the character.
    If that wouldn’t bother you, then you’re a prime example of why there are so many “fast food” movies out there, no substance, no taste, and absolutely no good for anyone except lining the pockets of those who put out that drivel.

  19. I think the fanboys’ opinions should be taken into consideration, but it shouldnt thought of as law, because 95% of fanboys have no idea how hard it is to make a movie. There are a lot of things that go into a making a successful movie.
    But I do think that the fanboys should be listened to because when its all said and done, that is your core audience and thats where you are going to make the bulk of your money.
    You are never going to be able to satisfy everyone, but if the comic book movie that you are making stays loyal and true to the story that said fanboys are used to, I think that the majority of the die hard fans will be happy. and if the die hards are saying its good, then that might influence the casual fans who are on the fence about seeing it.

  20. well I agree with Loco Lobo and Aleric, the titles are popular for a reason, correct? If you remain true to the spirit of the characters and the world that they inhabit, then it comes down to the basic movie elements, script, casting and direction. Yeah there’s room for interpretation, i.e. Morgan Freeman being cast as Red in Shawshank Redemption, but when the character is specifically defined by an author, there is an image that is created in the minds’ eye of the fan that is oftentimes ignored by Hollywood which then turns off the fans of the property that you want to exploit.

  21. Yes and No…

    Let us not forget that if it WASN’T for the fanboy, the movie would’ve never been made. Did the mainstream audience make Ironman or Green Lantern popular enough for a studio to drop hundreds of millions of dollars on – I would say “NO.”

    To an extent, (IMHO) a degree of deference is due to the fan boy – without, there would be no film.

    But I definitely understand tailoring the film for a larger audience. It is still a business and needs to make money!

  22. Great article Kofi. There in lies the crux of the dilemma of Hollywood Studios such as Universal and Fox. Owning the rights to two of Marvels most popular comics series, Spider-Man and X-Men the need to use characters or lose the rights. In the case of Spider-Man, this precipitated the wedge in of Venom the way they did, poorly conceived and in my opinion you could tell thru the movie itself that Raimi was not enthused to having to have to introduce this character. In the case of the X-Men, Fox would not have made a movie without the Wolverine in it. The major studios found out the hard way about the fanboy loyalty and underestimated the value of these characters in the movie market. Spider-Man was a box office success from day one. X-Men found popularity thru good acting and very good story telling from Bryan Singer. He may have left because he knew how they were taking the characters timelines and mixing them up. Screenwriters made very compelling screenplays. So it may have made it tough for the studios and directors to change them once a movie date was established. Once success of the initial movie was apparent sequels were rushed and the true fans were left a little out in the cold. This will be the constant dilemma of studios as long as they own the Marvel characters. WB and DC have a different relationship. I believe they will let Green Lantern find it’s own popularity in the first movie since they have Harry Potter this summer to make them, I expect, a record amount of money and next year Batman and maybe Superman, will be their next money makers. I think the only way the fanboys will get a true to story line for all Marvel characters would be that they under Marvel/Disney control.

    • Might wanna try breaking your next long post into paragraphs :)

      • I think paragraphs are beside the point! That person needs a full-time editor!

        • Large helmet and no avatar, hollywood has regrettably decided you will get an “F” FOR Fatigue. My book will like the Torah. I will keep that in mind.

  23. Screen Rant,
    Thank you so much for writing this article. This is something that I have thought for a long time, but have not been courageous enough to speak out about. While fanboys are one variable in the calculation of success of a movie, I find them fundamentally problematic. I think it is important to READ the source material, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the movie being made needs to fit in with Comic Book’s silly idea of continuity.
    I commend you for writing this article. It has brought the ability for Screen Rant to think critically about this topic to a whole new level in my mind. I think this article speaks to the brilliant credibility of this website.

    It is not the end of the world that Havok might not be Cyclops’ brother. Humanity will survive.

    Thank you Screen Rant.

    • James,

      Man… well I’m glad we finally wrote an article that shows we think critically – only took 10,000 of them to get one at last. 8)

      I’m just pulling your leg – we appreciate your comment!

      Vic

  24. I found this to be, from the perspective of another rabid fanboy, a very true opinion on the whole situation with the comic book properties we know and love. No, most of what goes on screen will never live up to what we feel is best. But, a few glaring examples aside (Spiderman 3), we should try to appreciate the opportunity to see our favorites even given a chance at the box office.

  25. I for one expect trailers to give me a sneak preview of what the movie is about, and when Ive mentioned on certain ones not giving me a good vibe, the fanboys come out of the woodwork with “how can you judge based on a 30 second trailer, zOMG!”.

    • Yes. I’ve experienced this over and over again. Fanboys can be too obnoxiously positive just as well as negative. I’ll never forget how demented fanboys seemed over the topic of Superman Returns before the movie opened. Every warning sign was brushed off. Everyone daring to express doubt was attacked. The first images with the stick thin Superman; The ponderous trailer; The director’s ominous quotes about “love stories” and “vague sequels”; The rumors that the kid was Superman’s (which fanboys denied, denied, denied, “No Way That’s True!”) Fanboy comments seemed completely divorced from reality and completely loony. Then the movie opened and the fanboys were left with egg on their face.

  26. Geh, was Wolverine supposed to be wearing yellow spandex or what? Seriously, when it comes to aesthetic elements, some sources should be joyously ignored. Elements that hobble the cool-factor without offering dramatic relevance should definitely not be untouchable during movie production. As long as the dramatic elements of the CB are maintained and hit the same chords in the movie version, I’m satisfied.

  27. Insightful article. The fan community does need to grow up a little.
    Forget the boys. We need more fan-”men.”

  28. Fans have legitimate concerns. There are some things that make us love a character/story/world, and when they’re not present, it’s like a totally foreign thing. I also think adaptations that lose the spirit or essence or essential nature (whatever you want to call it), the movie tends to do less than spectacularly at the box office (The Spirit comes to mind). Now, we can debate and argue what are those essential things, and they may not be the same for everybody. But I think that’s why at least taking fans into consideration is a good idea.

  29. Well it depends. If the whole comic book is entirely changed from top to bottom just so they could get it on the big screen, than that is when they should listen to the “fanboys”.

    I’m all for staying at the roots while I also think it is important to adapt to the modern ages, but when you make it to where the only thing they have in common is the name, that is when they should take some outside advice.

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