Back in the day, comic book superhero movies were a rare event. Since the release of Blade, however, they’ve been released much more frequently, with varying quality; for every Spider-Man 2, you have a Catwoman. What is it, though, that makes some superhero movies work and others fall apart?
It’s hard to say for sure but these five recommendations might go a long ways toward streamlining the process. Only one thing is certain; it’s all about balance.
1. Keep it faithful (but not too faithful).
This is the one that you’ll hear most often from fans; however, the degree of faithfulness they want can differ immensely. Possibly the best guide for how faithful one should be, though, is to look at the movies that have proven most successful. Films like the Spider-Man series, The Dark Knight, Superman: The Movie and Iron Man all stay true to the core of the mythos, while also crafting their own unique story for the big screen.
2. Keep it serious.
No, not everything should be Batman Begins or Watchmen. However, there’s a reason that stuff like Batman & Robin, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four are viewed so poorly: the general public doesn’t really like goofy superhero movies, and the fans feel insulted when their favorite characters are treated like jokes.
We’re dealing with utterly unrealistic powers and stories, no doubt. However, even if the events that transpire are ridiculous, all that matters is that you make them feel realistic. Bryan Singer’s X-men movies accomplished this fabulously, making a futuristic world of mutant powers feel like it could be our own backyard.
4. Don’t use too many characters.
The characters need to be fleshed out or, frankly, the audience just isn’t going to care about them. This is a difficult task on its own but it’s only made worse when you throw in everything but the kitchen sink and overcrowd the whole film. Batman Forever is a good example here. Another good example is X-men Origins: Wolverine, a movie that should’ve been a dark reflection on the character of Logan but was instead turned into an overstuffed mess of cameos.
5. Think of it as a movie, not just a superhero movie.
Finally, we come to this. The best superhero movies are those that make us feel something; it could be the coming of age story of Peter Parker in Spider-Man, it could be the sharp look at prejudice in X-men or it could be the dark, crime thriller atmosphere of The Dark Knight but no matter what, none of these movies should fit into a mold. Treat them like real movies and the result will always, always, always be more rewarding in the end.