LOGAN: The Death of the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

This is not a review, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of Gods, X-Men, Destiny, Time, Love, Storm, Rogue, Beauty… Comic Books.

Logan: The Death of a the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

…Or this is just me rambling on about movies and comic books as usual.

Logan (20th Century Fox)

Directed by James Mangold

Written by Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green

Starring Hugh JackmanPatrick StewartRichard E. GrantBoyd HolbrookStephen Merchant & Dafne Keen

“I get the feeling this review is gonna hurt, kid. The kind of pain that doesn’t heal. You know what I mean?” “Of course I do. I’m extraordinarily wise for a lab experiment… oh yeah and I can drive.”

Make no mistake, people. Logan is not a good film. It’s not a good superhero film or a good western. Even as it tries to compare its own shit writing to the classic western Shane (SACRILEGE!!!), it is not a good movie, period. But what it is, what Logan turns out to be, is the latest in a welcome trend. A regular movie that just happens to star a comic book superhero. Not a superhero movie. Not a comic book movie. There are comic books in the movie. Wolverine waves them around from time to time, if that helps to put the character in context. But that’s about it. And it does not.

“You see, in this reality they made us into comic book superheroes for their kids but still hunted us down like dogs… because that makes total sense.”

Wolverine, everyone’s favorite X-Man, has had three solo movies. The first and the third have been complete bullshit. The second, however, is one of my favorite comic book movies of all-time. The second Wolverine is an homage to his stand alone title. It is a perfect replica. The pacing. The cinematography. This is The Wolverine. This is the comic that I collected from issue ONE. I say this all the time and I will say it here again. “If you do not respect the source material do not take on the job of bringing it to the screen.” But I was about to tell you what this awful movie Logan means for the industry.

“Awful? Well that’s just harsh. Play that Johnny Cash song again. I think I’m gonna cry.””

The first sci-fi genre was a straight space adventure. Trip To The Moon. The second was The vampire Film. Nosferatu. Since those two, we’ve had tons of space adventures and tons of takes on the vampire. These are tried and true genres that once every decade somebody tries to reinvent and breathe new life into. But also there are other types of movies that aren’t as flexible. They come and go from era to era. They disappear and have resurgences. Like the western or the gladiator movie. These are just types of movies not genres. (in this context anyway. Because words can be tricky)

“I will kill you all with my Star Wars Prequel Yoda-like, physics defying, aerial acrobatics because I am a cartoon character in a serious movie!!! ARRRGH!!!”

In the past, the superhero movie was a type. (type vs genre) It was a costumed adventure. Fight the bad guy. Save the girl. Save the world. Period. End of story. There were a few comedy bits thrown in but mostly it was the superhero’s tale. But these types of movies are coming to an end. Their time has passed. Logan is not a comic book movie. It just happens to star a character from a comic book. And that is awesome. (Even while the movie Logan is not that awesome).

“Say my movie is bad one more time. I dare you… Bub.” *snikt

Logan is not a western either, by the way. I read that somewhere. I disagree whole-heartedly. It thinks it’s a western, but it’s not. If anything it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story like Mad Max: Fury Road. But instead of a global apocalypse, Logan is about the mutant apocalypse. The chase to hunt down the last mutants. At the start of this movie all but three mutants are dead. Professor X, Callaban and Wolverine. By the end of this movie… no spoilers but everywhere you look people are saying this is the last Wolverine movie. This is the last Wolverine movie. So you figure it out. And don’t talk to me about the kids. They were made in a lab (*see note). So not a natural mutation. Logan, the end of the Wolverine franchise, is some dark stuff.

*note: Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton was added in a lab but his mutation, his healing factor (Deadpool has the same thing but that too is from a lab) and Wolverine’s heightened senses (smell mostly) are a natural mutation. Of course the movie Logan all but ignores his sense of smell. It’s almost like the writers never read the comic books… but anyway. What was I saying? Oh yes.

“Wolverine, would you please tell Mel to stay on topic.” “He doesn’t listen to me, Professor.”

The comic book superhero is officially a film genre and not a type of movie now. And I know I’m not using the right words but bear with me. Because the word genre can fit for both of these categories of things and it gets confusing. The way I’m differentiating here is in the ways they can be presented. Some film types are the same no matter what. Different plot. Different characters. But you know the beats. Romantic Comedy. You get the gist. International Spy Thriller. You know what you’re going to get. Gladiator films changed from Roman to Martial Arts but they generally stayed the same. The Comic Book Movie was just like that not too long ago. Dark or Light. Marvel or DC. Nolan’s Batman, Donner’s Superman, Whedon’s Avengers and Raimi’s Spiderman are all the same fucking films. Like the western. It was a box. You could throw whatever superhero you wanted into it and the beats would always be generally the same. I’m not saying they are all the same quality because they are not. And there’s nothing wrong with opening up a box, knowing what you’re going to get and still being pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to like movies unless you’re okay with that.

“Wait… Are you the vampire, Callaban? And does that make me the Zombie? I don’t get it.”

But then you have the full on classic genre that’s not beholding to any style. Vampires. Are probably the best example. There are no rules. You can have a space opera with vampires. You can have a rom com with vampires or a western. Most recently Zombies have become the go to for putting them wherever the fuck you want. If you made a section of vampire movies it would make no sense. There would actually be more types of movies than you could shake a stick at under the vampire genre. Comic book superheroes are now officially crossing into that zone. And I’m psyched. The R rated comic book film with no crime to fight, no world to save… fuck yeah.

“Did somebody call for a super-villain? That isn’t really super or necessarily a villain. Just a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders. Did somebody call for a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders?”

And again I’m talking Sherlock Holmes in space type shit. Not just some detective. I’m talking about recognizable comic book superheroes in all kinds of movie boxes. Not just some generic superhero they made up that’s supposed to remind us of stuff from the comics, but the name-brand heroes from the comics. It’s time for a Batman movie where he never puts on the cape. Just a detective story or a revenge tale. One of my favorite aspects of The Hulk movie (still my favorite comic book adaptation) is the romance between Liv Tyler and Ed Norton. And that’s what the Hulk was for me when I was a kid, a romance. Stop trying to make him into a superhero. He’s not a superhero. He’s a monster in love. Spider-man as a teen drama would be nice. Sure he’s still the spider-man but that’s not the movie. The movie is about a kid trying to finish high school. Stop it with the super-villains. Enough already. We get it.

“Logan, do you remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Picard has a full life and grows old in a simulated tribute to an alien species?” “No I didn’t watch that nerd crap.” “I wish that was what this was. Because this movie is depressing as fuck.”

So anyway, what Logan represents to me is the death of the comic book movie. We saw the beginnings in Winter Soldier… that’s more of a spy thriller than comic book. And Deadpool… an R rated fourth wall comedy, a parody of itself. The comic book movie as movie type, is burning itself out. There will still be tons made, because you know how it takes Hollywood a couple of decades before they get the point, but we’re already getting tired of them. Bring on the comic book heroes in regular movies. These are great classic characters. They don’t have to fight The Riddler every week. That’s just their job. It doesn’t have to also be the movie plot.

“Here Lies The Superhero Movie Genre… I mean Movie Type… May It Rest In Peace… I mean Pieces. – Hugh Jackman.”

So Logan, this mediocre, unbelievably corny and poorly written take on The Wolverine, really wasn’t that great of a movie from where I was sitting (seat L10 right behind the wheelchair section because, you know, leg room ftw). Even though Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine, here he reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back to play the Terminator one last time… nostalgic. And to tell the truth, I didn’t see Wolverine in Logan at all. I saw the actor who plays Wolverine and a character with claws who references the comic books like that’s enough. That’s not enough.

“Daddy?” “Yes Laura… wait. Did you just call me daddy? Damn, maybe Mel is right. This is some corny ass shit.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “Hold it. We’re almost there.” “AARRRRGH!!” “Really? Again with the screaming?”

But what I also saw, in the theater, and on the screen, is what it means for comic book movies going forward… a whole new set of rules. The possibilities are endless. Creativity run amok. And that shit was better than the movie. That shit was beautiful.

– Mel

The Comic Book Movie is dead.

Long Live the Comic Book Genre.

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad (with apologies to the BvS Ultimate Edition)

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

(Unless Joker hijacks this review and makes it all about Harley)

Harley Quinn

“You heard the man. It’s all about me.”

Suicide Squad (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Nope.

Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad (From the nincompoops at Warner Bros)

Harley Quinn Suicide Squad Poster

Written & Directed by David Ayer  Based on a Character from DC Comics

Starring Margot RobbieWill SmithJared LetoMargot RobbieJoel KinnamanViola DavisJai CourtneyJay Hernandez, Margot Robbie Adewale Akinnuoye-AgbajeIke BarinholtzScott Eastwood & Cara Delevingne and Margot Robbie

Let’s get right to it. I really liked this movie. And no one’s forcing me to say that. But I think a lot of what I liked had to do with Margot Robbie’s Harley and Jared Leto’s Joker. So granted I would have liked it better had it just been about those two. And also I agree that the beginning is disjointed and wordy. And after having to sit through all the origin stories, and how each character has their own theme song, and how all the songs are movie cliché needle drops, and how DC comics sucks at making movies (and comics), and how Warner Bros execs have screwed up the last three comic book titles they’ve put out. Knowing all of that. Knowing all that failure that was baked-in from before the opening credits… Suicide Squad ends up being a pretty good film (about the epic love story of Harley Quinn and The Joker: Partners in Mayhem. A movie I have re-titled as Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad). In my completely un-coerced opinion it is the best DC comics movie since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

But that’s not saying much.

suicide-squad-margot-robbie-harley-quinn

“Look Puddin’ I’m a meme… But that’s none of my business.”

And I’d like to add, of my own freewill, that Jared Leto is the best Joker since Mark Hamill redefined the role, rescuing it from Jack Nicholson’s awful interpretation. And since Heath Ledger broke the part by actually becoming the Joker and then dying. Jared Leto is amazing, but not in the film nearly enough.

And here’s the part where he tells you he’s not going to spoil the movie for you because that would be wrong.

Verdict: SPARED

Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad

“I make this look good.”

I saw Suicide Squad at the NYC premiere and I was expecting a mess of a movie on the same level as Batman v Superman. but I wasn’t as disgusted as I thought I would be. It was alright. No seriously. No one’s holding a gun to my head or anything. I actually liked it.

Don’t look at ME.

Batman from Suicide Squad

Joker & Harley’s Batman-sized car ornament shaped like Ben Affleck.

By the way, dear readers, I watched the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman before going. And at well over three hours long, I see why they needed to cut some shit out (language). The idiots at Warner succeeded in cutting out the movie’s heart. Every cut was wrong. Completely fucking wrong (LANGUAGE). What needed to be cut were special effects shots and explosions and large expensive set pieces. But what they cut out was story and coherence and good performances and logic. And what was left is more like the producers flung excrement at the screen and proclaimed proudly “Look mommy. I made a stinky.” And we’re all expected to hang it on the fridge like proud parents.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad

“I really like this guy.”

I wanted to do a blog post on how much better the Ultimate Edition is from the theatrical release but it was just paragraph after paragraph of me cursing about how fuck**g stupid (Better) the studio was in their cutting and slashing and justifying. And I get it; They needed a shorter movie so they could squeeze in another showing in a day and make the studio more money in the first month. But after that month was over, maybe they should have put it all back again or made the cuts I suggest here, respecting story and logic. Cuts to BvS that go against every instinct in their expensive business suit wearing bodies.

suicide-squad

“Just tell me… where… they… are.” “Easy, Vasquez… um… ALIENS… Rent it.”

“You can’t cut this special effects shot,” They’d say. “It cost us millions.”

You know what cost you millions? Putting that crap in theaters the way you butchered it, ASSHOLES (I’ll allow it). Now you see why I didn’t do a blog post.

Jared Leto as The Joker in Suicide Squad

“Woooooo.”

But what were we talking about… Oh yes. Suicide Squad (Excuse me). I mean Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad. The movie is fun and cool and the characters are interesting and full of Bad Good Guys and Good Bad Guys, however you want to look at it. But it’s the casting here that truly shines. The actors are all amazing. Even Cara Delevingne who still can’t act but is not as annoying as she usually is in other movies. But you know it’s all about my girl Margot. Long-time readers of my blog will know how much I love her and think that if they let her play something other than the hot girl she’d really show us something (Other than her ass). And of course Jared and Will can each carry a movie. Both guys can go above the title, and for good reason. They are all sensational in it. The cast is not to blame for the weak quality. Not at all.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

“See. I told ya we’d hook ya up. Did I lie?” “Aren’t you cold in that?” “I’m crazy.” “Crazy hot.”

What I had a problem with was the crowd pleasing classic movie tunes. Not because they are all over-used needle drops. But because there were so many of them. Each character had their own rock song intro theme and it was too much and too cheesy. Actually the entire first half hour was hokey and awkward. But once they get past the sloppy-ass way they introduce the characters, the movie is pretty decent. The relationships feel real. The characters are three-dimensional and the actors do a great job. This is a DC comics movie, so all the characters are extremely paper-thin from the start. Marvel has always had more depth in their heroes (Careful). One of the reasons I never picked up any DC titles as a kid was they were all so dumb (Except for Batman). Except for Batman. So when I say three-dimensional characters, I mean more like origami or paper airplanes. The actors themselves add more depth and save a flimsy premise populated by minor characters defined by their countries of origin. They don’t call DC; Dumb Comics for nothing. I get it. She’s Japanese and he’s Australian. He’s got a boomerang and she’s got a katana. I’ll try not to feel insulted (Geez. This guy’s a real spoil sport).

Margot Robbie and Jared Leto in Suicide Squad

“You’re gonna like this part, my dear.” “Don’t call me my dear. I’m your doctor.” “You wanna play doctor?” “That’s not what I meant.”

But having said that, I found the Harley and Joker story very enjoyable. I thought Margot Robbie did an exceptional job balancing the crazy with the sexy. Marrying the homicidal with the likable. Just when you’re thinking she’s just the hot chick, or just the girl, or you’re staring at her ass, she cracks your skull open with a mallet and laughs at your corpse. Somehow though I think Jared Leto, and his “method” acting may have even helped her… in a weird way. And Will Smith, I’m sorry, he can’t play a bad-guy. Not really. So it’s hard to paint him as a villain. But he tries to sneer every once in a while to sell it. But what Will is good at is making the action look cool and he does. However his quiet scenes with Margot are some of the best in the movie.

And I can’t wait for the Joker and Harley movie to come out. What a great relationship those two have. I’d buy that video tape from my local Blockbuster video store for sure.

Harley and Joker the movie

“That was nice but ya know Blockbuster’s outta bizness right?” “You’re outta business.”

Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad is better than the critics say and a thousand times better than Batman v Superman. And, in my opinion, it’s worth the price of admission. Unless of course you want substance (Hey). There’s very little of substance (Uncool). It’s not substantial at all. It’s mostly fluff (Watch it, you). But it’s fun fluff (That’s better). Gun to my head, I’d even buy the Blu-ray (I’ll get my REAL gun). And like I said, it’s the best DC comic book movie since The Dark Knight.

But again, dear reader, that’s not saying much.

– Mel

(J.) Voiced by Mark Hamill of course