The Comic Book Movie Illusion

Tim Grierson, in his review of Aquaman in MEL magazine, has an interesting take on super-hero films

But ultimately, this is what’s so hard about silly superhero films. In a sense, they’re owning up to a fundamental fact about comic-book movies — which is that, honestly, they’re all kinda dumb. People who can fly or lift heavy things or climb buildings? It’s total fantasy — but part of the reason that these stories work is that we emotionally invest in such universal tales of heroism and self-sacrifice. They’re goofy movies that we choose to treat seriously — if we acknowledged their idiocy, the whole illusion would come crashing down.

Of course, the genre is fantasy so making a fantasy movie is kinda the point. Grierson thinks they are goofy. He thinks they are goofy because of the genre, which he mostly dislikes. Most professional critics actively dislike genre films. Audiences love them. Critics want “real stories.” Audiences want a fun time at the theater.

Sure, there is plenty of room for everything, and to be fair Grierson did put Annihilation and Mission: Impossible — Fallout in his top ten and those do fall under fantasy. However, his universal tales of heroism and self-sacrifice” apply to all sorts of genre films from Westerns to Romantic Comedies.

Basically, I wish he’d acknowledge the idiocy and fantasy of ALL genre films and maybe even a few of the non-genre types too.

December 22, 2018

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