Comic Book Saturation: Pleasing or Frustrating?
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On a casual Wednesday afternoon, I approached Samuel Saenz with the intention of having a simple conversation about comic book movies. It turned out to be forty minutes of in-depth analysis: holes in the plots, errors on the part of voice actors, inaccuracies with origin stories, and the problems with the mechanics of web-slinging.
Some moviegoers are fascinated by the action-packed adventures in comic to big screen films. But for the real comic book fans, Gabriel, Samuel, and Alejandro, a trip to the movies becomes a exercise in analysis: a breakdown of each film’s comparison to the comic they know and love.
With a total of 66 comic book movies coming in the next few years, comic book readers are often left thinking whether the movie lived up to the book or fell flat. They may be left fulfilled or frustrated if the directors’ changes from the original simply didn’t work out in the end.
Comic book fan Gabriel Saenz pointed to Iron Man 3 as a disappointment. “The Mandarin, in the comics, was a terrorist who
was planning to kill Tony Stark, and while he was doing that, Stark was figuring out a way to bring unlimited power to Manhattan. The Mandarin feels that way of life should be judged and should be uncontrolled as always.” In comic book land, The Mandarin is a real Iron Man nemesis. In the movie, he was a puppet of the real villain. The real villain, as Gabriel described it, “was a white guy who could turn on fire, which was depressing, really depressing.”
Movies that distance themselves away from the characters and plot lines or happen to write additions, to some degree, get the most criticism from comic book fans. According to them, such changes disrupt the flow of the comic narratives and ruin expectations.
“The villain of [The Dark Knight Rises], Bane, in the comics is a mutated human [with] super strength and immune to almost anything. Poison was his steroids, making him rage in order to fight. He also wore a full black, almost luchador, face mask. In the film, Bane was portrayed as a human who seemed to have abnormal strength with a mask, but the mask did not cover all of his face. Also, Bane was not shown as a giant, which he appears to be in the comics, and he did not use poison anywhere in the film,” said Alejandro Martinez.
Many movie adaptations of comics are not directed by comic book writers themselves, but by movie directors. What angers comic book fans is “when the director decides that he can make his own changes, like he can do whatever he wants,” argues Gabriel Saenz.
Some heroes, like Spiderman, feature problems with technicalities in the movies. Does Peter Parker make his own web shooters, or does the spider bite give him the ability to shoot webs biologically?
And then there’s the frustration with non fans’ lack of knowledge.
“It makes me mad that some people like think that comic [companies] like Marvel are making these successful movies they are just thinking out of heads, No, they [are using] millions of millions stories and characters [already exist],” Samuel Saenz said.
Despite the issues movie versions create, most comic book fans are excited for the coming years. Many of their comic book favorites from the paper copy are heading to the big screen.
“It kind of makes me happy because the next ten years on, there is going to be more movies, and recently, Steven Spielberg said, ‘Comic book movies are going to die the way of the Western.’ They’re not. It’s not going to happen because there are so many characters in DC and Marvel, and it’s interesting because you don’t know what’s going to be next, what’s going to be planned in the next ten years of a movie.”