There’s a lot of talk about the glut of superhero movies lately, and debate about whether fans are burned out. I don’t think fans are burned out…I think Hollywood screws things up half the time, and fans know good ideas from bad ones.
Comic book fans are very VERY much into the mythology and continuity of their favorite characters. I’m convinced one reason the first Batman series fell apart so quickly was the continual rotation of actors playing the lead character…and the weak choices of who those actors were. Fast forward to the current Batman series, easily the best comic book movies ever, and the inspired choice of Christian Bale and the gritty edge to the films bring us compelling films that happen to be comic book adaptations, not campy comic book travesties like the final couple of Batman films from the 1990s.
The critically panned Daredevil wasn’t bad. Maybe another actor could have done more with it, but Ben Affleck wasn’t bad either. Likewise, Superman Returns wasn’t bad, and Brandon Routh was, well, at least somewhat acceptable as Superman, despite being a little young for the role given the history the movie tried to adhere to.
So fast forward to today. Hollywood is making mistakes and doesn’t seem to learn from past lessons.
Captain America can’t be the same guy as Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch. Chris Evans played Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four in TWO movies. Then a couple years later he all the sudden is Captain America? And in between that he starred in yet another comic book adaptation, The Losers. The fact that Captain America and the Fantastic Four are both Marvel products makes it all the worse. With as much attention to detail and long-term development as Marvel has put into the hugely ambitious buildup of The Avengers, how do you borrow a member of the Fantastic Four and ignore that series?
Similarly, Green Lantern can’t be the same guy as Deadpool, a villain from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A stone cold killing machine becomes a light-hearted flying neon green glowstick in Green Lantern? And how do you cast Ryan Reynolds to play Deadpool to begin with? He’s Mr. Likeable. And why would you use a glowing green all-CGI costume for Green Lantern? And no costume at all for Deadpool?? The fact that X-Men is a Marvel title and Green Lantern is a DC line only slightly lessens the ridiculous nature of recycling lead actors in comic movie after comic movie.
And finally, you can’t keep re-booting The Hulk. In the Avengers, we’ll have our third actor portraying The Hulk in three films. Ridiculous. And we’re already re-booting Spiderman after the third Tobey Maguire film just a few years ago? Why?
Building live action storylines and characters across a multi-movie arc like the progression toward The Avengers is a fantastic opportunity. Conversely, trying to create a Justice League film with no lead up connections to the Batman and Superman films (and with new actors) seems pretty odd.
Keeping actors in the same roles over multiple films is not easy. But there are plenty of actors out there. The relatively unknown Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor (yet another Avenger to be) is one example. The powers that be need to be sure not to cast Chris Evans in any more comic book roles. Let’s allow audiences to become as committed to these characters as comic book fans are. That can only happen with consistency, logic, and respect for fans, in addition to compelling storylines and fun special effects.