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 Steel, Green 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…
The Most Fickle Fans
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.
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…