Francis Ford Coppola once tried to get George Lucas to not make his “silly sci-fi” movie and direct one of his movies. I think Apocalypse Now, but Lucas decided to make Star Wars even after the failure of THX-1138. Well, Lucas’ movie turned out to be a big hit…but Coppola apparently still thinks it was a mistake. This is not surprising as the Hollywood movie and TV machine has the cliquish nature of your average high school stereotype.
In a world where The Big Bang Theory was considered good geek representation you can imagine what the “cool kids” think of the current superhero trend, pushed by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the questionable attempt at bringing back Star Trek while the CEO of the company who holds the rights hated the Star Trek franchise. Once again the pecking order comes into play. Action sci-fi is always looked down upon, and that’s if you can push anything science fiction past the elite of Hollywood. Fantasy has struggled since movies existed, with studios only wanting to copy Harry Potter and Middle Earth because someone managed to push those movies through and they worked. It’s recent comments that James Cameron of all people made that inspired this article but he’s not the only one I want to point fingers at.
Cameron isn’t necessarily anti-science fiction. He’s responsible for the GOOD Terminator movies, Alita: Battle Angel, and the Avatar movies. However, he’s blamed the fact that the Avatar movies aren’t doing as well as the Marvel films because there are more Marvel movies and thus more ways to get close to a character. Nevermind that from what I’ve heard the first movie was all great effects surrounding a mediocre movie and I haven’t seen any major discussion of the second film, which could just be my recent run of distractions but for a film that he said needs to outdo Titanic (formerly the biggest movie success while The Way Of Water needs to at least third in history just to break even) you’d think everyone would be talking about it.
Cameron has blasted the MCU whenever he can, upset that characters don’t grow because of the comics, which literally can’t happen in the live-action stuff but given there are only a handful of movies with sequels and only a few actual team-up stories I don’t know how much growth he’s looking for. He does have a point on how everyone is written like quirky college kids now. He’s also complained that they “don’t feel epic” like the recent Dune remake, even though “epic fixation” is one of the issues yesterday’s article on the problem with comics didn’t bring up and the obsession doesn’t make for a good sequel or even a good story alone. Alita, which he only produced but encouraged Robert Rodriguez to direct for him, wasn’t an “epic” story and didn’t need to be.
He’s even taken a negative look at his own Terminator movies, saying he wouldn’t make them today because they “fetishized guns” or something, while declaring testosterone a “toxin”…showing he somehow knows less about the human body than I do. This same perspective caused him to kill a battle scene from The Way Of Water. A remake of The Terminator to reboot the franchise would require focusing on the AI rather than making it the bad guy, working on AI versus humans rather than AI killing humans. This after Dark Fate was panned in part for killing off John Connor in favor of a girl hero because apparently Sarah Connor shooting a liquid metal Terminator in the face with a shotgun to protect her son wasn’t badass enough. Oh right, it involved a gun being used.
At least he has some interest in science fiction, though he’s now more into the intellectual hard science fiction instead of the action sci-fi that the elitist directors are all about. That’s funny when you remember Hollywood was created to get out of being stuck under the thumb of one movie-making perspective and diversify how a movie is made. It’s not surprising. Todd Philips hates comic book movies as well, so he make a version of the Joker that ignores everything about the comics. His “Joker” had a real name, wore make-up (one of my problems with Christopher Nolan’s take), and was just some nut. The movie was compared to The King Of Comedy for plot and Taxi Driver for tone, none of which works for the Joker. Then there’s Matt Reeve’s Batman movie that focused on being more grounded than even Nolan’s take, and that didn’t really feel like a proper comic adaptation to me, either. Tim Burton may have focused on quirky villains because that’s his style, but he and Joel Schumacher both at least kept the comic book feel. And when Schumacher is being praised for a more accurate Batman adaptation, you seriously need to rethink your choices.
The only reason Joker got over wasn’t because of a good portrayal of a character but because the extremist political machine went into panic mode over a movie they swore was going to push incels to violent rage, even convincing the military to be aware. All they had to point to is that one guy in barely clown make-up who shot up a theater during Nolan’s final movie in his “Dark Knight” trilogy, because movies focusing on the villains aren’t exactly some new thing. The same crowd didn’t pitch a fit when Harley Quinn got her own movie with girls on a rampage through Gotham and ruining Cassandra Cain as a character (plus everyone else not Margot Robbie’s take on Harley). Maybe that would have saved it, but thankfully we’ll never know.
Then there’s Quentin Tarantino’s version of Star Trek, in which the crew gets stuck in the past and become mobsters. So basically he wanted to make a mobster movie with Star Trek characters because he watched “A Piece Of The Action” one time too many. He also wanted to turn Godzilla into an actual god, and probably wanted to make that a hard R rated movie like he did Star Trek. This is not a man who cares about the source material. “X” is popular but doesn’t reflect what these snobs like because it’s based on stuff that doesn’t interest them and they’re so convinced that their view of movies are the ONLY good movies that they must “fix” geek media into being “better”. Meanwhile you have people working on properties like the most recent MCU work, Tolkien, and The Witcher who are outright hostile to the source material and remake them in their own image, chasing off anyone who actually knows the property because only the name matters. They have to make them “better” or be free to make something original without original marketing. Making something called something popular is easier to sell even if they don’t actually want to make that popular thing or understand/care why it’s popular. That’s also how you get the Secret Hideout version of Star Trek on “TV”, as approved by a guy who hated classic Trek.
You’ve got people declaring superhero movies dead, movies that “fix” superheroes, sci-fi, and fantasy, and geeks still being represented as Steve Urkel lite, if not Urkel directly. The bullies continue to push geeks around…despite geeks creating the characters, the software, the thing in your pocket that connects you to the internet, and so many other high-tech things. They can’t handle that something popular with mainstream audiences who don’t hate “geeky” things and just love a fun adventure story exists and much “improve” everything because to them one way exists to tell a story and everything else is garbage. Best get with the cool kids and do whatever the clique wants.
Somebody needs to tell Cameron that the problem isn’t the MCU is stuck in college, it’s that Hollywood is stuck in high school.