A Superhero Summer: It Can Only Get Better (Ghost Rider & John Carter)
In our first Superhero Summer article Burner, Alan and Chas sadly reflect on the lack of proper superheroism thus far in 2012.
What do you think went wrong with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance…besides everything?
Burner: I think the failure of Ghost Rider comes down to one thing: Nic-Cage-doing-crazy-shit fatigue. When he put on a bear suit to punch women in the face in The Wicker Man, it was a reason to watch.
When he smoked crack as a crooked cop in Bad Lieutenant it was a new height in scenery chewing wackiness.
When he banged a diner waitress while simultaneously killing bad guys in Drive Angry, you had to wonder where he could go from there.
By the time Ghost Rider came out, pissing fire in an unasked for sequel to a movie based on a not that beloved comic book, all anyone could do was shrug. “Do that while wearing a bear suit, smoking crack, and banging a diner waitress, then we’ll pay attention,” the public reaction seemed to say.
Alan: Never produce a trailer where your ‘hero’ pisses fire.
Additionally, I don’t know that anyone who made this had a real handle on the character, as ridiculous as it is to call a man with a flaming skull riding a motorcycle a character. Nic Cage as a motorcycle stuntman? Really? Colin Farrell, maybe. But not Nic.
Chas: It was a given that your mom wasn’t going to see Nic Cage’s new CGI romp but there was one challenge that changed should have happened at the box office: a mediocre return to what did happen at the box office: absolute tanking. Why? Because not even the fan boys came out to see Saint Nicolas, the Patron Saint of Ham, urinate fire. Why? Sheer confusion over the movie itself. Was it a sequel? Was it a reboot? The answer to both questions was a resounding, “Kinda?” Even before I saw the aforementioned golden fireshower trailer I was already baffled by this movie. The trailer was the final drop in the bucket…a bucket of urine…that’s on fire.
Why did John Carter fail and what can Hollywood learn from its massacre?
Charlie: Ultimately I think John Carter failed primarily due to woefully bland marketing that did nothing for any of the movie’s intended audiences. I saw John Carter and, while not a perfect move, it was no The Postman. When I saw the movie I was impressed by the relatively nuanced and intelligent story, the actors, the settings, the action and the successful sense of adventure it carried from scene to scene i.e. everything i wanted out of a ridiculous sci-fi adventure movie where a guy goes to Mars. But from watching the trailers for the flick, all I really knew was John Carter goes to Mars where there are weird creatures and he can jump like the bizarre lovechild of Michael Jordan and the Hulk (sidebar: the explanation given in the movie for his incredible jumping powers is hilariously brief and nonsensical…they should have had an alien clear his throat during the explanation and be done with it.)
Unfortunately for Taylor Kitsch, I think Disney was the wrong company to market John Carter. They advertised it like it was Pirates of the Caribbean but it isn’t. not. at. all. John Carter had no real star power (if you tell me Mark Strong is a star I will dress up as you and then go slap your closest loved one) and a weird setting that many people associate with archaic science fiction (why go just to Mars when you can go to a galaxy far, far away or where no man has gone before!?) They should have marketed the movie differently but could they have? No, they’re Disney.
Alan: If you make a movie that is, no questions asked, aimed at men, then you should not have a pretty boy in a loin cloth as your titular hero. (I mean this as no disrespect to the homosexual community.)
Burner: Alan makes a pretty good point. To Chas’ list of reasons I would blame Avatar. Avatar essentially ripped off the main plot from the Edgar Rice Burroughs (as well as many other sources) book that John Carter is based on. That being the case, once you dial up the GCI and remove the visual and technical skills of James Cameron, what you’re left with is more or less movie critic poison. Once that happens you lose all the fence sitters and you’re movie is being compared to The Postman (which I would defend by saying, it may not be perfect but it’s no Waterworld, the main character is not, for instance, a urine drinking fish-man).
Consensus: Both of these movies lead us back to one inescapable commonality:
Next up on the Superhero Summer: The Avengers.