(I don’t intend any spoilers so you’re safe to keep reading unless you haven’t seen the cover of Entertainment Weekly and don’t want to know ANYTHING. In which case, too late. Also what follows next is obviously entirely my opinion.)
San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone and left in its wake much excitement. On my usual front (the X-Men) the biggest noise has been over the leaked trailer and the Entertainment Weekly article teasing some (unenhanced) photos of the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. Shortly after the excitement of seeing Storm, Psylocke, Magneto, Xavier and a few others in their new contexts, the focused shifted to Apocalypse……
……and fans changed from excitement to outrage. And the Ivan Ooze jokes (if you haven’t seen them, just google it) have abounded. The entire movie is going to suck it seems because Oscar Isaac doesn’t look like a picture perfect vision of a cartoon and reminds many of a Power Rangers villain. Never mind that Psylocke looks amazing, as does Storm. Fassbender and McAvoy are rocking their new looks and it sounds like it’s going to be a dark, thrilling ride. Never mind that Oscar Isaac grew up reading X-Factor and is a long-time Apocalypse fan and that he’s super-enthusiastic about the move. None of that buys any credit, all that seems to matter is a few images with no context of a villain that we have not seen brought to life on the screen yet with all enhancements in place.
It’s nothing new, it seems almost every movie has its whipping boy. Let me run down a few that I’ve come across in my life in fandom (these are my own recollections, but many can be checked on the internet) starting with — Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard. Yep, you heard me, back in the day there was clamoring all over that he was too old to be playing the captain of the Enterprise. A Shakespearian actor? (ignoring that Shatner had also been one). Brent Spiner was accused of being a Spock knock off Data looked “silly” and “fake”….all of this before the premiere. Other notable “disasters in the making” were the “female Starbuck” (Katee Sackhoff) of Battlestar Galactica, Viggo Mortensen playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, Michael Keaton as Batman (they reportedly received over 50,000 letters protesting that one), Heath Ledger as the Joker, he was going to be ridiculous, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man (!!), Evan Peters as Quicksilver and how awful he looked, Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch and why isn’t she wearing her headdress, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. To be fair, there have been a few lackluster performances. Ben Affleck for example didn’t wow people as Daredevil, though it’s a stretch to say he was objectively bad in the role or even looked that bad. But really taken as a whole, if fan predictions were batting averages we would have been bounced from the majors a while back.
And we’re back at bat with X-men: Apocalypse. We’ve finally gotten a glimpse at the movies, and there are some questions, maybe even some concerns. But we seem to have bypassed trepidation and raced to full-on mockery in a flash, arguably exceeding the previous record times set by Quicksilver, no pun intended. (Okay, yeah it was.) With no context to the scenes, the memes march on.
And I admit it — I’ve joined in on more than a few of those back in the day. And I’ve been wrong almost every time. Because I didn’t know the context, I didn’t know what the vision for the tale was. And in some cases, because I wouldn’t let go of what I’d known before. I’ve learned my lesson, context is important. Letting go of the movie in your mind since you were 12 is sometimes a necessity (unless you want to direct movies, then keep on with that dream! You can do it.)
Comic book movies have moved into a new age. The caliber of actors has increased and become consistently good. Gone are the days of tapping someone simply because they look good in a suit. We’ve moved into the age of solid actors bringing life to our beloved characters in exciting and, yes, sometimes different. It’s not something to be feared or hated, but embraced. It’s a new age, it’s our age. We should enjoy it.
(EDIT: Someone pointed out that I missed Hugh Jackman’s casting as Wolverine which was also a matter of controversy, since he was primarily known for musicals at that point. I apparently edited right out of the original post…….Ooops. )