Recently I was watching the movie free guy. It was… good until the end when in an epic final showdown, Ryan Reynolds pulled out Captain America’s shield, a hulk fist, Megaman’s blaster, then a lightsaber, all with music from appropriate accompaniment.
I see it more and more in movies in recent years. Studio executives throw away everything recognizable in their films to create the illusion of a high-quality movie.
This practice is lazy and cheap, having to rely on products and moments from the past to try and uplift your movie should be unacceptable, but the practice remains. Why?
The practice of adapting things from other media to cinema is about as old as the film itself. One of the first widely acclaimed horror feature films ever made, Nosferatu (1922), was not an original idea having been based on the Bram Stoker novel Dracula.
Adaptation is not necessarily a bad thing, it is often the opposite. Some of the most recognizable and respected cinematic works are based on or include elements from books, television, and even other films. What makes these examples better than their contemporary counterparts is that something creative has been done using these elements.
As an example, let’s talk about the most recent Star wars trilogy.
Throughout the series, there have been several different characters, props, and plot points that have made a comeback in the series. Nothing particularly interesting has been done with these aspects most of the time. Their main goal was for audience fans to go ‘oh, I recognize that, cool. ‘
It doesn’t help Hollywood’s image as a failed creative industry when that’s all the creativity you can muster.
On the other hand, let us take another contemporary example in Logan (2017). The film is much darker and gritty than the other superhero movies that came before it. With an R rating and inherently violent main characters, the film’s dull-colored visuals matched the invented tone perfectly.
At one point in the movie, Logan is shown an old X-Men comic, full of colors and fantastic themes. It’s a great juxtaposition with the seeming reality of the X-Men universe that we see in the movie.
When Logan talks about how the stories in the comics didn’t really turn out like this, it shows us how far the Wolverine character has gone. Now, in what will likely be his last film, all of the vibrant comic book life has now turned to dull dust.
Credentials aren’t necessarily a bad thing to include in movies, but the way the major studios have incorporated it into their films leaves a lot to be desired.
Anyone can throw something recognizable into a movie for almost no rhyme or reason, but using references for movie improvement takes a lot more thought and planning.
Without paying attention, sometimes you end up giving Ryan Reynolds a lightsaber and letting him wave it for no reason.