Ok, so like every good geek, I set out this last week to see the new X-Men origins: Wolverine. Reviews in the geek community tend to vary from “utter garbage” to despicable. I’m pretty bored with the wife out of town and decided that even if it’s bad, it’s a good way to waste 2 hours. I went in with no expectations other than Hugh Jackman looking cool.
Unfortunately for the geek community, it seems that it’s film reviewers are now just as unaware of what films are for as the more “serious” critics. The film was fine. It isn’t the moody masterpiece like Dark Knight, but then, what is? It wasn’t the Cinema as Art of Watchmen, but that’s not something easily done, either. It was, however, a decent way to spend two hours watching cool effects and things blowing up.
I went back and revisited a lot of the reviews and read them in more detail and realized that 90% of the sites panning the film were doing so because it deviated from the established canon of the X-Men universe. This is asinine. Either the film itself is good or not. Was this a bit formulaic? Sure, what actioner isn’t? Most comics are incredibly formulaic. But panning a film because Wolverine’s claws come out when he’s young or because Emma Frost and Silverfox were never sisters is just plain stupid.
When it comes to discussing how Canon something is, perhaps the comic community would turn it’s attentions on itself first. There are about 5 million story arcs for every character and it’s not at all unusual for character details to be edited after the fact, or for powers to be changed, added, increased or decreased. So if a movie takes bits and pieces and maybe invents a bit of it’s own, does it really upset the balance of the universe? No. Would it have been cooler if the hysterically awesome Ryan Reynolds had more lines as a massively modified Deadpool? Hells, yeah! But my life is not worse because he didn’t.
What these people are missing is the same thing that more formal film critics are missing. People go to movies (and specifically these types of movies) to be entertained. They do not go to learn. They do not go to be “changed.” They go to escape, maybe have a chuckle or two, and to watch things that look cool. Sometimes they want to see those cool things blow up. No one goes into these types of films looking for anything life-changing.
No one is more pleased that films like Lord of the Rings, Dark Knight and Watchmen exist. I love it when the film is not only full of the appropriate action and effects but also good acting and smart writing. What we cannot forget, however, is that these films are not made only for us! Geeks are many, but we are waaaay outnumbered by regular folks who don’t know Sabretooth’s real name or care about how Wolverine lost his memory! Those folks have asses that fit nicely into theater seats. Those filled seats make money for movie companies that in turn pay for more geeky goodness.
The road to Lord of the Rings was paved by the low quality, campy movies like Beastmaster or Swords and Sorcery. Those movies brought the rest of the movie-going world into the fantasy and sci-fi realm. Dozens of B-grade (or worse) science fiction films kept people entertained enough to keep those seats filled, allowing more serious sci-fi and superhero style films and television shows. You can’t have Robert Downey rock your socks off in Iron Man without suffering through Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk. It’s paying the bills by entertaining; It’s how entertainment works.
By the time you guys read this I will have seen the film I was really looking forward to to start off this Summer: Star Trek. Based on the fact it is getting great reviews, I’m not sure whether I should be elated or not. I’ll let you know!