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The Final Word On: the Anticipating Super-Fan

FW08

As many of you may already know, it’s been announced that veteran film maker David Cronenberg is slated to direct the next Ghost Rider movie. Nick Cage will be returning and they’re supposedly using the unused script David Goyer wrote for the first movie. Obviously, they can’t do worse than Mark Steven Johnson‘s offering, but I have to wonder if Cronenberg is castrating himself by signing on.

Ever since Ang Lee‘s Hulk it’s always bothered me that people criticized that film so heavily. Of course I agree it wasn’t a perfect movie (I don’t think there are many who could support the mutant poodles!), but so much of the movie was so psychologically and visually stimulating and original. This was a movie made by a real film maker who was taking the material seriously. So panned was this movie, that it’s sequel was toted as a remake. Neither embracing the first nor having temerity to fully restart the franchise, Norton’s Hulk movie was everything the critics were asking for; a stupider movie. They wanted “Hulk smash”, and they got it. Of course it didn’t make a better movie, but like Transformers 2; audiences can’t complain when they’re getting more of what they asked for. Cronenberg, much like Lee is more likely to challenge his audience than say a Sam Raimi film, not counting Spiderman 3 which was evidently too difficult for most viewers.

Comic book movies have so much potential and are now being embraced by the public as a vehicle for new special effects, but there are few out there that have really reached their full potential. How hard would it be take a dark movie about a guy who mercilessly murders criminals as retribution for the murder of his own family, when you have the interests of the studios’ merchandising to worry about? And just how can you make a worthy movie of the Punisher that will also appeal to little kids, so that you can sell the toys while still respecting the source material? The first Ghostrider was certainly an attempt at a luke warm commercial franchise, but Cronenberg’s tastes will likely chaffee against those ideals. Will the Dark Knight inspire Marvel to dig deeper than they’ve ever dared to go? The problem here is again, expectations of what the final product should be.

Studios have financial interests that need to be realized and returned. They of course want a product that will appeal to a broad audience and that usually ends up being kids and toys. Fans of the comic will nit pick to nth degree about detailed minutiae that vary from reasonable wishes of good storytelling to demands to see arbitrary characters like Gambit whether or not they’ll be a good fit on screen. In the final analysis, the only people who matter are ticket buyers found in any theatre across the country. They need to know what they’re watching

The Watchmen faced an easily recognizable threat to it’s success by it’s very concept. All that needed to be sold to the world was the idea that this is a movie based on the greatest superhero comic in history! Everybody is on board… that is until they walk out of the theatre and wonder what their superpowers were. Some people think it was boring, well I bet those people had no idea about the movie they were going to see and I bet they thought they knew better. The reason the book was the greatest was that it was exceptionally smart and broke ground on how people thought of comic books. Maybe the audience of a big budget Hollywood movie has too narrow a vision to accept that same idea in movies. Hell, even V for Vendetta resorted to some Matrix slow-mo to enhance it’s visuals and mass appeal.

Everybody buys into the “superhero” movie and what it means but that concept is nothing more than a noose around the neck of genre. Everyone wants the special effects and the action, the CG and the impossibly dynamic stunt sequences that we’ve never seen before, but why must that come at the expense of the story or a film maker’s vision? Dark Knight is one of the few artistic and commercial successes that brings everything to the table.

With his head on what may be a chopping block, veteran film maker David Cronenberg has announced that he will be behind the camera for the next Ghostrider movie. Will the masses support an unconventional superhero movie? Will the fans nitpick at every detail or complain that it doesn’t follow all of the lore set out in a comic series originating in the seventies? There’s a line that must be found for all of us. It straddles the boundaries between quality, integrity and commercial viability, fan demands and the public’s desire to be left unchallenged. How can we foster more novel concepts while still making financially successful films? Better yet, what is Cronenberg’s plan?

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8 Comments

  • Reply Ben Sisko

    wow..this is news to me…how did I not no about cronenberg doing this? nice to be surprised once in awile. Lee’s Hulk was awsome…except the ending it still bothers me.

    October 23, 2009 at 3:39 am
  • Reply Dana

    Great article! I had no idea they were making a new Ghost Rider. Probably something I should never admit on a public forum, but I actually enjoyed the 2007 disaster. I’m not saying I thought it was good, but I did enjoy it 😛

    What I would expect from Cronenberg is more weirdness… It seems like his penchant for body horror and deviant sexuality infects everything he does. I can only hope those qualities that make his films so interesting will make their way into his Ghost Rider. I think at the very least we can expect some really neat transformation scenes 🙂

    October 23, 2009 at 5:51 pm
  • Reply Rovin

    No she didn’t say she liked Ghostrider!

    Uurgh, Dana. Why?

    October 23, 2009 at 9:55 pm
  • Reply Aaron

    Well all I can say is I don’t know much about Lee’s Hulk…I fell asleep I think like halfway through the movie, nothing was happening.

    I believe like most comic books are when it comes down to it, fights and action, more or less but there are few that break away from that as you said Jonny.

    But as for this new Ghostrider, I have no clue how its going to turn out, I can’t really say Iv never read the comics.
    The 1st one wasn’t that bad, nor was it awesome, Nick Cage is well one dimentional. But I guess the director can dig in to a deeper meaning of the story but if thats the case the whole movie has to be that way.
    I have seen something like that just pasted in.
    So meaning, the director the staff, everyone has to take things seriously for this to be a success.
    The action is always nice though its going to be hard for me going into anything less than ROTF (cus that Sh*t was awesome)
    For me, a movie has to keep me entertained, not just by good story or acting, or the action, but all of it at the same time………or just action 100% of the time……but what Im getting to is that if he is going on that same path as the 1st one…well what can I say…worth a rent? But I wouldn’t be jumping up and down.

    but I hope he proves me wrong

    October 24, 2009 at 3:31 am
  • Reply Rovin

    Sorry, but your credibility comes into question if you think Ghost Rider “wasn’t that bad”, Aaron. It was bad. Real bad. I REALLY tried hard to like this film. Fuck, I REALLY tried hard to WATCH this film, but couldn’t get through it. Ever. Tried like three or four times. Once in the theater. And I’ll watch ANYTHING with Nic Cage. If I can sit through Bangkok Dangerous but cannot watch Ghost Rider without falling asleep, than THAT’S saying something. And the funny thing was the director, Mark Steven Johnson actually thought he was doing the fans a service with this collection of filmed shit. Man, I hate this movie. The villain, Blackheart was played by that douche from American Beauty? It took a movie like P2 to even make me consider Wes Bentley an actor.

    And as much as I loved ROTF, you really shouldn’t use that movie as a setting for standards. Because that could possibly lead to Michael Bay becoming your favorite director. Now think about that.

    Hope you’re not offended. I’m just busting your balls because you kinda hit a nerve with the whole Ghost Rider thing… 🙂

    October 24, 2009 at 4:27 am
  • Reply Jonny

    Wow, dude was mad! I havn’t seen Rovin this mad since someone mentioned Bai Ling!

    October 24, 2009 at 6:29 am
  • Reply Dana

    Haha actually I think Ro has a new-found love for Bai Ling after watching Crank 2 the other night… I keep trying to tell him I don’t think she was acting in that movie…

    AND Ro — you know I like Ghost Rider, so don’t act surprised on here! I’m sure it’s similar to people with deviant sexual fetishes… you know, like Two Girls and a Cup — the people who like it might not know why they like it, they might even be embarrassed that they like it, but it doesn’t stop them from liking it! 😛

    Yes, I just compared liking Ghost Rider with eating poo…

    October 24, 2009 at 1:35 pm
  • Reply Aaron

    hey Rov. Im not offended, its just a differences of what we like and dislike. And Im not saying Michael Bay is my favorit director he just makes fun movies to watch.

    but since I havn’t read any of the comics I can’t really get to angry with the movie cus I have no referance, but I see where your coming from.

    And Dana, did not need to know about the 2 girls and a cup, I really tried hard to remove that from my brian. and now its back

    October 25, 2009 at 7:14 pm
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