The other day I read what I believe is the stupidest comment I have come across related to film for some time.
Daniel Craig was famously heard to mention that he only really agreed to play James Bond, because he knew with his paycheck, he could fund his own projects, or take acting jobs for little or even no pay, if he was moved by an idea from another artist with little or no capital. It is not just the high-earning megastars that this kind of self-beneficial altruism is a plus for. Marvel’s success filters down through the its company and veers off in a myriad of directions, in order for other projects to be created, which are niether inspired by Marvel themselves, or even have a superhero involved. It’s not only shit that rolls downhill, money does too.
Firstly, we might want to look further than just the success that Marvel have enjoyed since they decided to make their own movies, rather than farming out their licences to others and ask why they are successful? It is undeniable that the movie industry in general is dominated by the United States. It still accounts for more total revenue than its Asian counterparts, though the gap is slowly diminishing, and traditionally a successful enterprise in film is often found to compliment the more over-reaching concerns of its audience at the time, capturing a nation or continent’s pulse. In the days of Roswell, the film industry was awash with UFO themed projects, for example, and in today’s financially insecure climate for many, the notion that there is someone out there that can do the things we can’t, in spite of difficult and insurmountable obstacles, is a prevailing theme that audiences can both be excited and comforted by. Westerners, in short, seem to need a hero to ensure that everything will be alright.
Of course, this is not the case for all audience members that appreciate these films. Some purely go for the bangs and whistles that Marvel are equally good at. Accusations of ‘dumbing down’ to an audience that are allegedly too stupid to appreciate ‘proper art’ are unfounded, purely on the success of the films, as this would suggest that all audience members are equally clueless. If that were the case, everything that wasn’t a superhero movie would fail to get off the drawing board. Audiences for Marvel movies are so large, in fact, that it is a completely ridiculous notion to suggest that everyone that pays to see them is an idiot, because the majority of that same audience also pay to see films that don’t feature superheroes in any shape or form.
It is understandable of course that not everyone appreciates these movies. I include myself as one of those people that take a limited amount of pleasure from them, but I do appreciate fully the place that Marvel (and DC, if lesser) currently inhabits. Without blockbusters, of which superhero projects are are included, the amount of money and talent swishing around the industry would be increasingly absent. Without the unmitigated success of these films, the film industry as a whole would actually be in a much more precarious position, so to suggest that Marvel movies are only for stupid people is more a comment best saved for the ashes of the movie industry, where those that believe it can stand on Hollywood’s funeral pyre and smugly know that they were right in the end, even if they have nothing to watch.