How to Make a Good Super-Hero Movie

They are going to make a new Spider-man movie.  You know that? They have a new actor, too.  He might be good.  But he might suck, too.  I have a feeling they are going to build this stupid, tween monster where Spider-man’s high school business trumps his spider powers.  Are you worried?  I am a little bit.  That’s why I compiled a list of things a super hero movie needs, really needs, in order to be a viable, viewable work of art.

1.  A character-driven story that is actually good.

Spider-man 2 was an amazing movie because the story was something we wanted, something that was focused and strong and powerful. Peter Parker trying to get with Mary Jane, but can’t because, if he did, then Mary Jane might be a target by all those bad guys.  And, like, Mary Jane is going to get married and Harry Osborn is an insane maniac who drinks too much (I love it when he knocks the bottle over. Classic).  The problem with most movies is that the action over takes the message.  The director has an idea of what he wants the audience to see and doesn’t worry too much about the story, about the movements, about the emotional reactions. It isn’t about the size of the explosions or seeing boobs or cities collapsing into pits. Movies are about, well, they are about that stuff.  But they can have great stories too.  Spider-man 2 proved that.  Spider-man 3?  Not so much.  Let’s not talk about Spider-man 3.  I…I don’t want to talk about Spider-man 3.

2. Action scenes that are innovative, powerful, impressive and important.

The reason we go to these movies is partly for the story, and it is party to see stuff blow up.  That’s true.  We need it.  Deep inside of our bodies, we need to see stuff explode into a billion pieces.  Blade does it every time. Wire work, fight scenes, swords, Blade has it all.  And these are the little pussy vampires these busted Twilight freaks seem to be all into.  Remember when vampires were something to be afraid of, not something to kiss?  You don’t kiss Vampires! You put a silver stake in their hearts and laugh as they explode! Remember Blade! We can never, ever forget Blade!

3. Acting, acting, acting, acting, acting. Acting.

Give us a great story, some great action and some great actors.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Yes, I know directors matter. But do we see the directors acting?  Nope.  We see guys like Heath Ledger acting.  We see that.  Playing the Joker has to be one of the most difficult, most daring feats and acting can try.  How do you make him consistent?  How do you make the Joker’s actions logical?  How do you make the guy human, even if he’s a deranged, psychotic human? And how do you do it so that it is convincing?  So that people believe you? So that they want to see you do it? So that they aren’t completely freaked out and disgusted?  That’s the Joker that Heath Ledger gave us, a joker completely of his own making.

4. Stay true, as much as possible, to the source material

Finally, staying close to the source material is vital.  There is a reason why characters like Superman last for as long as they do, stay as compelling as they do.  Superman isn’t black.  His lifepod didn’t land in Russia or Nazi, Germany.  He probably shouldn’t have married Lois Lane, but he didn’t in the movies and that’s all that matters.  Superman: The Movie, the Original movie, the one with Christopher Reeves and Gene Hackman putting a Kryptonite necklace around his neck, that is a movie.  Yeah, the special effects suck, but they didn’t suck back then.  Yeah, the acting is a bit over the top, but it was the Eighties. Give it some love. It works with the source material, what made it wonderful in the first place.  Was that why Superman: Returns was so weird, so unconventional, so Ugh? Is that way X-Men: The Last Stand made no sense? Was that was the first Hulk demanded a re-make almost instantly? Yes, some comic movies are God awful. Some shine. That’s why we keep making them, to improve them, to excite a new audience and keep making the real life representation of the comic heroes that always drive us crazy.