Monday, June 20, 2011

What the fanboys hath wrought

Warner Bros has tried to satisfy the more intense comic book fanboys. When they attempted to "re-boot" the Superman movie franchise, they created a paean to the fanboy favorites "Superman: The Movie," and "Superman II."

That film, "Superman Returns," was an artistic disaster, almost as bad as those first two "Superman" films. It made quite a bit of money, but not nearly as much as everyone was expecting.

They made a version of "Watchmen" which was an almost frame-for-frame adaptation of the original comic book. At the time the film came out, I presciently and wittily called it "Warner Brothers' sacrifice to the fanboys." It didn't make nearly as much money as everyone expected (on a supposed $130- $150 million budget, it made a total of $187 million worldwide). It, too, was an artistic disaster, for reasons I outlined in my original witty and prescient post.

A few years ago, Warner Bros actually had what sounds like an interesting and novel take on one of their DC Comics characters: They hired Robert Smigel, the man whose hand is inside the very amusing Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, to write a comedy version of the very lame character Green Lantern.

The fanboys expressed their anger in indecorous terms. Warner Bros got the message "loud and clear." The fanboys did not want something that might be unique or different, or entertaining.

They wanted the same old superhero shit they always get. They wanted the same storyline. The same origin. The same story beats. And they got it. They got it, Warner Bros gave them what they wanted, and now Warner Bros is once again left with an exceptionally disappointing return. $53 million in 2011 dollars, inflated by 3-D ticket prices.

And next weekend: Cars 2 opens.

Adding insult to injury is today's Vanity Fair interview with Mr. Smigel, in which he discusses some of what Warner Bros might have had, if only they hadn't listened to the fanboys.
I know that when the idea was pitched to me to do a comedy about Green Lantern I did a quick review of the specifics of Green Lantern. And I thought, Well, of course this could be a comedy. Basically just the premise that the wrong guy gets the ring and can do all kinds of goofy visual jokes—because the visuals are so potentially ridiculous. What appealed to me about it on a comedic level was that, in order to be a superhero, this requires no physical skill or talent. All it requires is owning this ring. Automatically, that’s a comedic premise.
Mr. Smigel's lantern would have been a reality show contestant who is chosen by the Green Lantern power ring when he sees him eating a raw coyote head on "Fear Factor".

That is funny. That sounds interesting. It has a great deal of potential. It's not just another superhero movie.

More from Mr. Smigel:
One thing that I liked was that he has this girl he wants to impress. He’s flying around looking for any kind of danger and there’s nothing. He sees a guy on a scaffold and knocks the guy off the scaffold and then flies in to save him right outside the window where this girl works. He saves the guy, everyone is cheering, but they’re confused because he flies away with the guy so he can fly right in front of the window of the girl.
Again, that is funny. That is a movie I might want to see.

What they got? What they got is a movie that very few want to see. Warner Bros has appealed to the fanboys. They got just over $50 million for the weekend. How much more are they going to get?

The fanboys wanted Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern. So that's what they got.

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