Monday, September 19, 2011

How Did the 2011 Summer of Superheroes Fare…?

Yeah. These guys. Well, only like three or four...

Going into the summer of 2011, I could only groan when I looked at the lineup. Sequels, remakes, reboots, and of course, the ever increasing number of superhero movies. Sick of the supers? Sorry folks, 2012 features another lineup packed full of comic book adaptions. And, well, as they continue to make money, expect this superhero trend to continue.

But enough about the future of these films, how did this summer of crime-fighters fare? To be perfectly honest, it was quite a lackluster performance in both the box office and critical acclaim. There are no Chris Nolan Batman-type movies, or box-office smashes like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Sigh. Instead, we were forced to watch the hard-to-look-at Green Lantern film, a laughable Thor, yet another Avengers set-up in Captain America: The First Avenger, and a few others of unimportance. Oh yeah, also IN 3D!!! THREE DIMENSIONS GUYS!!! /facepalm.

Let’s take a look at how some of these super-ly un-super films did…

Oh, hi there, Natalie Portman.

It’s easy to forget that Thor kicked off the superhero summer of 2011. Sorry to remind you. Sure, it was pretty to look at, but it drowned itself in Kenneth Branagh’s pretention. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big Branagh fan. But seriously man, stick to Shakespeare… The cast wasn’t given much to work with either. Okay, so critically it wasn’t really a hit, but c’mon, at least it smashed some box office, right?

Well, kind of. Thor was definitely helped out by the fact that it could be that annoying commenter on YouTube and yell “FIRST!” It started off by taking the number 1 spot in the box office two weeks in a row, despite almost dropping 50% in the second weekend. Also, it’s not like it had a lot of competition going into its second week. Sure, Bridesmaids is critically acclaimed and hilarious, but it isn’t really a film parents allow their kids to see, or a family oriented movie (for good reason…). Priest also came out during Thor’s second week. Do I really have to explain that one?

But really, Chris Hemsworth’s hair totally made the almost 2 hour movie bearable. Ha. Oh yeah, and Natalie Portman. Again, will anyone really remember this as a stand-alone movie, or rather, OMG! THE AVENGERS! I am quite disappointed that this movie seemed to be a hastily (albeit expensively) thrown together film just to set up for the 2012 Joss Whedon directed film, The Avengers.

When it is all said and done, Thor garnered mixed reviews from critics and by making just over $180 million, Branagh’s film barely overcame its $150 million budget.

Props if you can name all these guys...
X-Men: First Class

I was actually super excited for this film. Early reviews gave a positive spin on First Class, and Fassbender and McAvoy looked very good as Erik “Magneto” Lensherr and Dr. Charles “Professor X” Xavier respectively. The original trilogy about the X-Men was entertaining enough under Bryan Singer, so I had high hopes for Matthew Vaughn’s (of Kiss Ass acclaim) origin story.

To be honest, First Class was rather disappointing. Fassbender and McAvoy were really the only bright spots in an otherwise mediocre film. Sure, the film is worth watching for those two performances alone, but the attempted plot and the bland acting of the other cast members made this film a rather big disappointment. Characters weren’t developed and audience members unfamiliar with the comic books were totally lost under the ridiculous number of obscure characters introduced. Fans loved watching Emma Frost, Riptide, Havok, Beast, Mystique, and their good and bad pals, but the rest of the audiences were left saying, “wait… who is that? What’s his power? Why doesn’t that guy have any lines? Is she really important? OMG! WOLVERINE!!!”

Critics continued to give First Class positive reviews upon its release. Marvel seriously needs to thank McAvoy and Fassbender for these positive reviews.

The box office wasn’t as kind, though. Despite the critical acclaim, First Class failed to hit the $160 price tag it took to make at the box office. Sad. It’s too bad as well, as this was one of the better superhero films of this summer. First Class could not hold onto its number one box office spot after week one, falling to J.J. Abram’s Super 8 during the following week. It fell in the second week, and fell hard (over %50 from the previous week). Marvel is probably a bit wary of future X-Men projects due to the paltry box office performance. However, Hugh Jackman’s cameo was priceless.

Mmmmm. I love me some Ryan.
Green Lantern

Unlike First Class, Green Lantern was not a film I was looking forward to spending money on, and I was definitely not going spend extra money to see it in 3D. Well, it seems like my hunch was correct. It just plain sucked.

Okay, the only reason I was excited for Lantern was just to see Ryan Reynolds. Mmmmm, Ryan Reynolds………… Whoa. Snap out of it, Peter! Well, not even my man crush could save this pathetic excuse for a film. The CGI looked like a high school production, in fact, I’ve seen better FX by high schoolers using Adobe After Effects. Heck, I’VE done better. Yeah, that bad.

The rambling plot, lack of wit in the script also doomed Lantern. Even though Thor had similar problems, unlike Thor, Lantern didn’t have the gaudy graphics to fall back on. Critics also blasted Lantern, giving the “film” very poor reviews.

Audiences weren’t too kind to the superhero film either. Even though it ranked number one on its opening weekend, Lantern tumbled down to number three behind Cars 2 and yes, Bad Teacher. That’s really sad. Lantern was down nearly %70 of what it earned in its first week. It would continue its decline, falling out of the top 10 by week five. How bad was Lantern’s box office draw? Mr. Popper’s Penguins, a film that came out on the same weekend, ranked higher than Lantern after the third week of running. Nothing against Popper’s Penguins, but seriously… Ouch.

Green Lantern barely collected enough money from the box office to pay its gigantic price tag of $200 million, proving only directors named “Chris Nolan” and “James Cameron” should be given budgets of $200 million or more. Director Martin Campbell claims that Lantern will be made into a trilogy. Huh. We’ll see how gung-ho DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures are about that…

She's not in it. Everyone mourns.
Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

It was the third installment of Michael Bay’s craptastic trilogy. It was in 3D. Things went boom. Like really boom. Like more Bay-splosion-y that usual. Shia LeBeouf did stuff. Stupid people went to see this stupid film. It made a crapload of money. It was called the “best of the Bay trilogy.” It was as stupid and boring as this review of it. Did I mention stupid people went to see it? Well, even stupider people saw it in 3D. I mean, c’mon Megan Fox wasn’t even in it. That’s the only reason anyone watched the other two. Seriously. And it wasn’t because of her acting.


Lucas Lee! In a Captain America shirt!
Captain America: First Avenger

The last big/highly anticipated superhero film of the 2011 summer was by far the best superhero movie of this summer. Led by Chris Evans as Cap, this 1940s period piece is clever, entertaining, and sigh, yes, another set-up for the Avengers movie. Side-thought: Avengers better be good. Not only good, but the best @#$%! thing ever.

Anyway, critics received Captain America rather positively. It was an enjoyable watch to them. I would have to agree. It is currently the best Marvel film since the first Iron Man.

Unfortunately, it seems as though audiences are getting sick of superhero movies. Sure, Captain America opened with a bang, grossing more on the midnight showing than any other superhero movie this summer, and sure, it even overtook Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. II to take the number one spot at the box office during its opening weekend. But… again, like the other superhero films this summer, Captain America took a nosedive at the box office worse than Steve Rogers did at the end of First Avenger… It fell nearly %60 in its second week, and barely grasped onto a number three spot. Those two other films must have been pretty good, right? Um, if you thought The Smurfs or Cowboys and Aliens was good, please, do everyone a favor and disappear. Forever. Like Green Lantern, Cap would fall out of the top ten at the box office by week five. Too bad.

This. This better be good......
Well, the seemingly lackluster summer superhero films of 2011 was… well, lackluster. All of these films (minus the stupid Transformers) barely scraped enough money at the box office to pay for their extravagant budgets. These films were lacking in both the critical and box office receptions. Sure, all of them started off with a bang, but none of them had the staying power that a really good film should have at the box office. To call any of these (again, minus the ridiculously dumb Transformers) a box office success is rather debatable. The superhero flicks just flat-out disappointed this summer.

To be perfectly honest, it didn’t matter how good or bad the Marvel films did at either the box office or critics’ circles. The Avenger movie would happen regardless. DC’s outlook doesn’t look as fortunate…… They really needed Green Lantern to step up to the plate and hit a homerun. Unfortunately, it not only struck out, but it struck out swinging at a pitch that bounced two feet in front of the plate. And it wasn’t even a breaking ball.

Anyway, there is good reason that DC Comics and Warner Bros. Pictures should be nervous. The Batman franchise is really the only superhero series that is doing well. And the last installment is coming out next year. Uh-oh. Sure, there will be another Superman movie, but Bats is the only sure moneymaker for DC, unlike the plethora of films that Marvel has going for them. People want a Justice League movie. I doubt that will ever happen. Not in the next five to ten years, at least.
Well... there's always this...
...or this...
The summer of 2011 was disappointing for the supers, but 2012 has a more positive outlook, at least, if you’re not sick of superhero films. Until these movies stop making any sort of money, studios will continue to make them. Expect new, obscure superheroes in the future (Ant-Man? Really?), along with combo films, sequels, reboots, etc. All coming to you in the glorious post-converted money-hungry 3D. Sigh.



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