"5 Things That Fans Think Are True, But Are Not" (Part 2 of 5) Author: Bill "Jett" Ramey
July 11, 2013
PART 2: "If it works in superhero comics and animation, it'll work in a live-action film too."
This is something that a segment of fans truly believe.
All their lives, they’ve read comic books and watch animated TV shows based on these comics. To them, this is the norm and everybody is reading and watching this stuff too (as Mark Hughes wrote about in PART 1 OF THIS OP-ED).
But truth be told, that ain’t the case.
Hey, I've read comic books all my life and watched numerous comic book-based animated TV shows over the years. Thus, while I get where this argument comes from – one's passion for these characters – I don't buy it at all.
The reason why it “works” in comics and in animation is because it’s being produced directly for its target audience: Comic Book Fans and kids.
So when the source material – a comic book – is adapted for a live-action/big screen film, lots of the stuff that fans don’t blink an eye at (Batman hanging out in space on the Justice League’s satellite headquarters for example), won’t in fact “work.”
Whether fanboys want to believe it or not, comic book films are not made for them, they’re made for the mainstream audience (we’ll talk more about that in Part 5 of this op-ed). So, while a fanboy might not have any issue seeing Batman’s costume being blue and grey and literally made out of spandex (“It’s in the comics!”), that would most-likely look silly and preposterous to all the “Regular Joes” who make up the majority of a Batman film’s audience.
Using Batman again to drive this point home (This IS a Batman site first and foremost, right?), there are MANY aspects of my – well, OUR – beloved character that probably won’t work in a live-action film. When it comes to Batman, one MUST keep in mind the two most fundamental aspects of the character that makes him, arguably (But he IS!), the most popular comic book character amongst the mainstream audience: He’s realistic and relatable. When Batman is taken too far outside those boundaries in film (i.e. fighting aliens, going into space, traveling through time, etc.), you’re treading on shaky ground in terms of the general audience accepting those particular parts of the character found in various interpretations in the source material. Look, I absolutely LOVED the BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD animated TV series, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want it turned into a live-action film! Why? Because it would come off as being goofy as all get-out to the mainstream audience AND perceived as making fun of Batman!
The op-ed continues after the jump!
Many fans use the animated JUSTICE LEAGUE TV series as a “great” example of how the mortal Batman “works” along super-powered beings. Was the show very well written and produced? Absolutely. However, when making their point here, these fans “forget” that this show was made for and watched by kids and fans of the genre, NOT a mainstream audience. As Mark Hughes pointed out in PART 1, fans either don’t realize or don’t want to believe that the Regular Joes out there don’t what this stuff. The Batman the mainstream audience loves is a urban crime-fighter without any sort of powers and who exists in a world relatively close to the one we all live in. So don’t you think seeing a Batman on film fighting aliens alongside Aquaman underwater might look a bit silly to many folks? Do you think Batman traveling through space with Green Lantern via one of his constructs would look cool to the non-fans? I don’t think so. Even Batman teaming up with Superman is pushing the limits to be honest in terms of what a general audience is willing to accept.
The bottom line here is that this argument I’ve heard for years – “Well, it works in the comics and in the animated shows, so it’ll work in movie too!” – is weak. Frankly, this belief often comes from a naïve and, sometimes, ignorant POV. I also sense a bit of “wishful thinking” here as well - which I'm sorta sympathetic towards. Perhaps the ignorance is deliberate. If so, I understand. I can certainly see how hard it can be for fans to accept that some of the things that are “cool” about the comic book characters they adore have to be changed, or eliminated outright, when brought to life in a film. - Bill "Jett" Ramey
A life-long Batman fan, Bill "Jett" Ramey
is the founder of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM.
He likes Elvis, The University of Texas,
Dallas Cowboys Football, and of course...
He resides in the GREAT state of TEXAS with his lovely wife, three kids, and two Boston Terriers.