havok

X-men #1: Jack Kirby(!)

"It's my job to make a film as good as possible. I need to please a cinema audience,
number one, and a comic book audience, number two. Hopefully I can do both,
but you have to make a film that works."

My blog has been severely lacking any comic book rants of late. Here's the remedy to that problem (I know my loyal reader(s) were getting restless on this front).

The above quotation is from Matthew Vaughn about his work on directing the movie X-Men: First Class. People who have heard me (somewhat jokingly) complain about the butchery being done to the X-Men mythos by this movie may be surprised to learn that I very much agree with the statement (with a disclaimer to come later).

It is common for fans of a written work to be very rabid in their desire for a movie adaptation to be faithful to the utmost degree, and comic book fans even more rabid still. However, it is when a movie is bad that the transgressions in adaptation get the full ire of the fans. When a movie is good in and of itself for some reason the errant translations become far less hazardous to the fan. I think it is common to misplace our reasons in why a movie failed into the categories of poor adaptation and we overlook the movie just being badly written. Moreso, sometimes it is the attempt to being faithful or cater to the fan that can in fact undermine the quality of the movie.

I could list the vast differences between the things they are doing with First Class and the actual comics, but truth be told they are doing exactly what comic book movies need to do, especially now as they become more and more prevalent. For too long comic book movies were predicated upon the origin stories and then hitting the most popular stories/villains of the main character. They were forced to hit all the desired plot points that comic fans want to see. However they miss out on telling their own story, crafting their own world, bleeding their own life into it. For comic books specifically a lot of that has come from not actually respecting the medium as worthwhile stories and seeing it just as a cash cow. Honestly, that is understandable. Comics are silly. But good luck telling a worthy story from something you don't respect.

Honestly, the adaptation that brings nothing new to the work is completely heartless and unnecessary to me.

Now, here's my disclaimer: Vaughn said, "I need to please ... a comic book audience, number two." My disclaimer is that this item still needs to be a priority. Good movie first, most definitely, but do not forget to respect what you are adapting. Otherwise title it something else. I am not saying Vaughn is saying anything differently. I don't believe he is at all. I just want to make sure people (all two of you that have made it this far) understand what I am saying. Although a better way to phrase it would be to respect the source material. Pleasing people can be a bad goal for art. It causes shortcuts and ... well it causes summer blockbuster movies, I suppose. Hmm, never mind. Still, I think the ideal phrasing would be respect the source material.

So what does First Class have going for it? It gets to tell a story that is basically untouched by the comics. It does not fit at all with the continuity presented in the comics, and characters are being greatly altered, etc. But they get to tell the story they want to tell. In fact, in that interview Vaughn specifically said he was allowed great freedom to make the story he wanted, which is highly unusual for these movies as every exec has an idea of how it will make them more money (understandable if you are sinking millions into it that you'd want to put at least your 2¢ into how it will make you more money).

Is a little part of me going to grumble at their choices? Yes, but I'm a curmudgeon. (I really want to bring that word back (if it was ever in fact here in order that it can come back). It's such a cool word.) Ultimately, the quality of the movie itself decides the game. Make a good movie and your twists in the adaptation get lauded. Make a bad movie, and people will blame the fact that the movie in no way represents the comic with the same name.

X-Factor #70: Mike Mignola(!)
A little game I invite you to play: Craft your ideal X-Men team. Write it in the comments section. What makes up your "ideal" is entirely up to you. For me, ideal is a team that I would like to read or write about. As for who you can draw your team from, be creative. It can be from the comics, cartoons, movies, alternate dimensions, villains, non-X-Men. Have fun with it.

1 comment:

josh said...

i have never read any x-men comics, however i did have a few action figures i loved playing with as a kid. so, i will make up my ideal comics team with those characters and the BA personalities i made up for them as a youngin': silver surfer, gambit, wolverine, nightcrawler, and deadpool. that makes a pretty unbeatable team in my mind.