On the surface what Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 & Wonder Woman, coming from rival comic book companies/movie studios, have in common is that they are both films based upon comic books.
Truly though they have something far more important in common.
Together they prove that this one-size fits all focus on grim & gritty or realistic nature for comic book films in recent years isn’t the right direction.
Both of these films are not only brighter/more colorful overall visually compared to their predecessors & fellow shared universe offerings, they are also brighter in overall tone and are not afraid to truly be comic book films. They totally embrace the fun, insane & totally off the wall things that make comic books what they are.
Warner Bros. earned truckloads of money from their more realistic and gritty Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and that’s totally fine. Batman is a character that embraces the shadows and tends to have a mix of more down to Earth gritty stories and out of the box crazy stories.
Shoving someone like Superman, Wonder Woman, or Spider-Man and others into that world is the wrong move.
They are characters that are light, fun, are full of hope and joy. They inspire us to be so much more, and their films need to reflect that.
We’re in a very dark period of time right now as a society, around the entire world, and cynical dark looks at our heroes might have once been something we thought we needed but now we need the opposite.
It’s time to stop slapping the grim/realistic moniker on all the comic books films. Studios need to look at the property itself and copy the tone that best fits that character or characters.
Right now it looks like Marvel Studios might be on the right track for that sort of change. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 showed that but the trailers/clips for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther show that the next few films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe appear to be fitting into that more colorful, fun and comic book world style mold.
In a way this change makes sense if one really thinks about it.
The general public might love superhero/comic book films, but they don’t all go running to pick up the source material in droves. Comic books are still looked at as these “nerdy” or “geeky” things and are “for kids.”
So in order to get the general audience to buy into these films, much of what we comic book fans love has to be put aside in order to appeal to those audiences. Thus why everything from Iron Man to Captain America to the Avengers from Marvel Studios has pulled in comics elements but has made them more grounded or so-called realistic.
With changes in the last few years of Kevin Feige getting full control of the films from Disney, pushing people like Ike Pearlmutter who looked down upon diverse led films out of the way, and Marvel about to reach a decade of film making the time for change was ripe.
Now that Feige and company have audiences hooked and in love with Marvel, pushing these brighter and crazier films out there for consumption isn’t a risk. The second Guardians has already proven it, with the right creative team and cast on a film audiences will still devour it even when you throw in stuff like a living planet as a villain.
Fans are so in love with what Marvel puts out at this point, they can finally really cut loose and do stuff the Feige has wanted to do. Thus why we’re getting the Thor: Ragnarok with bright colors & Hulk fighting Thor as gladiators or the set fully in Wakanda Black Panther and things like Ant-Man and the Wasp or Captain Marvel in the next few years.
With Warner Bros. and DC films it’s harder to tell if this wonderful change that Wonder Woman brought to the DC Extended Universe will last. Mainly because the only for sure films on the docket following the Amazon feature are November’s Justice League and 2018’s Aquaman, with all the other projected films sort of in a state of flux currently.
Both films are said to have tones that are different from the grim and gritty that came with Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This Wonder Woman effect will likely be more apparent in Aquaman since that film has just started filming whereas Justice League was already in production before Wonder Woman was being seen by most executives and others.
That film is undergoing some reshoots currently, shepherded by Joss Whedon as Zack & Deboarh Snyder step back to mourn the tragic loss of their daughter, so there is a chance that it can incorporate some more of that bright levity that was seen in parts of Wonder Woman. In fact the trailer that came out previously showed that the film was taking some notes from critics to be a bit lighter as there were plenty of humorous moments to be found within.
Hopefully both studios, and others that are making comic book films, learn from the examples set by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman and even Logan in it’s own way.
Stop shoving films into the one-size fits all mold of grim, gritty or realistic. Let the characters decide what the tone of the film should be.
That is where the path to continued success lies.