We turned on a current superhero film over the weekend, and K and I just couldn’t get into it. Despite a long history of loving comic superheroes and their stories, this particular movie missed the mark. So why did I hate this movie?
First off, I’m not going to tell you which movie we watched out of respect for the film. I also don’t care to be sued for sharing my honest opinion. For a little background on my comic book hero habits, check out this list:
- I prefer to watch superhero movies in a theater with my complete attention.
- Though I haven’t read many comic books, I will read up on the lore of particular characters.
- I’ve seen almost all the Marvel Universe movies.
- I’ve watched several of the CW television series (Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and before that, Smallville).
- Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and X-Men cartoons from my childhood are still awesome, even if they are a bit dated.
I will honestly say that watching superheroes go on their adventures helps put my problems in perspective. The stuff they deal with is so much bigger than my problems. Even though the characters are fictional, my zoning out in front of the TV to watch a few episodes of a superhero show makes me feel better.
So what went wrong this weekend? Why did I hate this movie?
It certainly wasn’t because the plot lacked complexity. In fact, the story was complicated enough that when I walked in some time after the movie started, it took me a few minutes to acclimate. I like stories with complex plots—Rogue One is still one of my all-time favorites.
The casting was also top-notch. I can’t blame the actors or the casting for disliking the movie. The lighting … well, let’s say that I’d prefer less moody lighting for most movies.
The real problems came back to lore. The decades upon decades of storylines built into this character just didn’t appear. We had a handful of villains, but no idea why they were baddies. The superhero’s tragic backstory? Yup, they glossed right over that. The hero’s sidekicks and friends? Not present. That was a real disappointment since more characters to fuss with the hero mean more conflict and complications in the story.
In the end, the reason I hated this movie was that it couldn’t make me care about a (main) character I was predisposed to like. That’s a pretty substantial failing for any story.
I prefer characters in the media I consume to be likable, but that isn’t a requirement for empathizing with them. As we’ve discussed before, we care about the story’s outcome because we care about the character. In this movie, there was a victim I might have cared more about if the movie gave me just a little bit more to work with. The victim seemed like a bit role: a plot device to drive other events, but not apparently important on their own.
So this movie was a disappointing DNF. Don’t be like this movie. Make sure your audience cares about your characters!