As a disclaimer, I have to say, up front, that I loved both movies. I am, after all, an unrepentant, old-school fan boy. I unashamedly admit that I am easy. I lived through the television birth of superhero shows and tv movies of the 80s. I survived the cinematic infancy of the later 90s and the 2000s. And, I’m glad to say, I’ve lived to see the Cinematic Universe glory of today. So, I find it hard to bash a film like Batman vs Superman who built such an epic story with such deep undertones that it made you think and feel. And, if you didn’t, I can’t help you. BUT enough about that. Watching Captain America: Civil War this weekend, I realized one element that Marvel obviously got right that DC/Warner struggles with in movies. It’s quite simple, but it took us almost two decades in the modern movie era to come back to the basics. I mean, look back at the early comic movies and, at times, it seems they were written and produced by people who never read a comic book in their life! And, for the most part, this was true. They spent way too much time trying to be real that they forsook what got them here in the first place.Why do the people go to comic book movies in droves? Why do they fall all over themselves to get in front of the latest CW show or Netflix series? Well, this article is the end all of that discussion by a long shot. But I noticed something watching Civil War that stands out versus DC’s newest attempt and even the past movies like the Dark Knight Trilogy that created the era we live in today.It all comes down to one thing: FAN SERVICE!
It’s the little things that happen and cause us to go ‘Hell Yeah!’. It’s utilizing nostalgia. What’s the thing that draws us to this genre and makes it the cash cow it is anyway? NOSTALGIA! Right! We who have read comics from way back like myself remember iconic moments in comics like the scene above from Spider-man (2000). It meant something because it happened in the comics first. And, about all that, it happened in our childhood and/or young adulthood. It became a part of who we are; a part of our story.
It’s the scenes that steal the show both in print and on the big screen. It’s the moments that speak louder than any dialog can. But, what’s more important, it’s the moments we never forget. And, when we see them played out on the big screen, we relive them again and connect this movie to the memory we have cherished all this time.
Marvel has made a fine art of making nostalgia reality. They seem to know that bringing these brief moments from our past from print to big screen means something to us and will engender certain emotions. Because, basically, if you do not create some kind of emotional responses, you have lost your audiences.
Now, DC/Warner has given us a few of these moments. But they are few and far between. It seems they have spent too much time trying to recreate what is already done. Now, in their defense, they have given us a deeper, darker story akin to THE WATCHMEN (2009). And to those who boo and hiss over what DC has done or is doing, I say that there is a place for different types of story telling. Much like the comics themselves, you need a myriad of different kinds of heroes and writing styles as there are different types of people in the world.
I applaud DC’s use of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS as much as I give kudos to Marvel for adapting Civil War to their needs. But the constant deep thinking of the comic content shows more and more that Comic Movies are as much or more for the new fans than the old-school readers of the source material! Pulling in new fans to some means rethinking the content. And that is more consistent for DC than Marvel, to tell the truth. DC has undergone far more reboots in the last decade than Marvel has allowed in it’s lifetime. But, as far back as the grandfather of all modern comic movies, SPIDER-MAN (2000), even Sony knew that certain nods to the old school fans were necessary.
But the masters at the art of recreating nostalgia is and may always be Marvel! Although, I concede that there is room for different approaches to the comic movies coming out in the future, I must tip my hat and wipe a tear in salute to Marvel and Disney Studios. Thank you for being willing to give an old-school fanboy like me those tidbit nostalgia moments that fall on many deaf ears in this new market of Comic Cinematic Universes.