I just got out of the movie theatre from watching the latest Marvel thrill Dr. Strange. As far as super-hero-movies go Mr. Strange was probably the one I liked the least. At the same time, I found myself enjoying it more than all of the Fox Super-hero movies with the exception of Deadpool. Being an entertainment correspondent for a Satellite TV Company this had me thinking. I reached out to several other entertainment correspondents and found out they felt the same way. Even the box office results bear the same.
When adjusted for inflation, Marvel studios has 7 movies in the Top 200 box office earners. Fox only has 1. Fox’s top comic movie to date is Deadpool which appeared at number 154. Marvel, by comparison, has 5 that appear above Deadpool ,on the list. If their success as comics is any indication to Big Screen success, X-men is considered the 5th most successful comic book series of all time. However, the Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and Iron Man, as comics, have been far less successful, yet their box office sucess is greather than the X – men movies. So what is the difference between the two companies?
First there are a couple facts we have to acknowledge. X-men ,s a comic,s been around since the 60’s. It has enjoyed such a long run, because it tells a great story. It has likeable characters with believable backgrounds and the groups were set-up specifically to work together to tell that story. The X-men are a group of troubled, confused, teenagers with role-models in the likes of Wolverine. They only succeed because of their ability to rely on each other. Whereas, the Avengers are a significantly older, already established group that can be largely independent. They can survive on their own, and most have their own comics. It has been the classic tale of teen angst that everyone can associate with,that has made the X-men stories so great. Ignoring this dynamic, the long term story and the way it affects everyone in the group, is why most X-men flicks,fall flat when compared to their Marvel counterparts.
The Characters Make the Story
Every character has a story to tell. Marvel had the advantage of telling the story beforehand for certain heroes. Fox did not. However, they can still tell those stories inside in the movie. We didn’t get to see a separate Hawkeye movie or Black Widow movie, but we learned enough about their dynamic, inside the Avengers stories, that we understand them– Two minor characters, who tell their own story inside the larger one. Fox really hasn’t accomplished this with their movies, even with the main characters. Marvel drew from material that was time- tested in the comics. Fox on the other hand tried to create their own stories, something that is a gamble and hasn’t paid off so far. Fox’s failure to realize the relationship dynamic in the comic books is most likely a result of their attitude towards making movies.
The Studios Approach to Making the Movies is Very Different
Not only do characters make the story, but have the potential to bring in moviegoers. Fox relies on the characters to do it, Marvel relies on the stories to do it. Each story Marvel tells is a small piece to a gigantic puzzle that people want to see .The Marvel movies simply won’t because they don’t want to miss a piece of that puzzle.
Fox seems to ignore the story that has been time tested through comics for 50 years and makes their recipe by putting as many characters into one movie, in hopes of attracting more people. This is why you have bloated movies with several not related characters in one film. Fox’s best comic movie to date, by the numbers and popular opinion, is Deadpool. Deadpool was lower budget, not bloated with comic book characters, and much closer to the source material. Is it any wonder it has done better than any other comic book movie they have made?
One of their worst performing movies was Wolverine Origins, which wasn’t remotely close to the source material and had more mutants in it than they needed. Most of the mutants they stuffed in the film have no connection to the story, but a lot of people went to see it because Gambit was in it.
I can’t judge what happens behind the scenes, but I can judge the final product. Gambit wasn’t necessary to the Wolverine story line, neither was the Blob, neither was Deadpool. I do know that a lot of people went to see Wolverine Origin’s simply because Gambit and Deadpool were in it. Fox rewrote a great story for the purpose of putting more comic- book stars in it. In Apocalypse, they go as far as making all of his horsemen X-men people. Fox succeeded in bringing out more people using this tactic, but it wasn’t that great of a story. Something I can determine by comparing box office results–something on which most people agree with me.
A Story Never Told
I would be ok with Fox making up their own stories and passing them off as a story never told, as long as they didn’t use stories already told. If you want a story never told, then you shouldn’t mix and match elements from all the other stories. You still have to have cohesion to the stories already told in the Comic Books. It doesn’t do any good to cast Mr. Sinister as the villian in the next Wolverine movie, when you have already used elements from Mr. Sinister in X-men First Class (Riptide), in X-men Apocalypse (Angel losing the use of his wings). This doesn’t become a story never told; it becomes one story that has fragmented parts of every story line. It would be like reading one book that has missing pages, replaced with pages from a separate book. It doesn’t only ruin the current story, but in every story in which they use these parts. It kills timeline consistency.
No Timeline Consistency
The timeline in the comics would set- up other time lines. This made for a very fluid transition and once again, told a story that people have been buying into for decades. In the comics we had Mr. Sinister, who organized a hit squad to kill the Morlocks, a group of week mutants who lived under New York City. One of the members of this hit squad, was Riptide. Mutants from all over headed to the underground to defend them. Angel was pinned to the wall by Harpoon, and lost the use of his wings. Later on Apocalypse restores Angel to power, but requires Angel to serve as one of his horseman.
Now we see the appearance of the Morlocks in X-Men 3, the appearance of Riptide in X-men First Class. Apocalypse, turns Angel into a horseman. Now its rumored that Mr. Sinister will be a villian in Wolverine. So now we have bits of one story spread out over 4 different movies and not one single part is consistent with the original story. It appears that Fox isn’t even setting the mutant massacre story up. Its almost as if Fox is saying we can make a better story, than Marvel.
The Amount on which they rely for special effects
Fox seems to rely on special effects, instead of the relationship of the characters. In the first Avengers ,we see how Thor and Hulk team- up to defeat one of the large flying invaders. Both of them are on the back fighting, Hulk takes a shard of metal, jams it in the monsters head, Thor hits it with his hammer. This all takes place in a very short period of time. At the end, Hulk hits Thor, which actually adds humor to the fight, but remains true to character and still gives this huge feeling of teamwork. It may have used a lot of special effects but it didn’t seem like it. In most of the X-men movies, they have one big ,special effect that they draw- out for a long period of time. How much time did Magneto spend sending metal flying at Apocalypse, even though it wasn’t working? It made for a great special effect but really lacked the feeling of action.
There is a pretty big consensous among the Comic fans that X-men movies are terrible. I stopped at a comic shop with my wife one day, and just asked the people at the counter what they thought of the X-men movies. The people thought it was so bad they didn’t even want to talk about it. The Comic Fans want to see their stories brought to life. This is why Avengers has done so well, Marvel brings the stories they love to life. Fox is trying to rewrite the stories that X-men fans love. The result is the hardcore comic fans who will spend their money watching these movies are unhappy. They are taking their money elsewhere.
You may disagree with me all you want, but the box office agrees. Based on the fan -base of the comic series alone, X-men should be destroying the Avengers at the box office. Instead they have chased away the majority of their fan base.