Today’s blog is inspired by Andre Joseph of AJ Epyx Productions. When we asked our facebook Likers* for blog post ideas, Andre replied with:
“Write about the state of superhero movies in Hollywood and what makes Photon Effect so unique from the rest.”
Wow, talk about a loaded topic. At first I’m tempted to say “well, the studios have a hell of a lot more money than we did” and leave it like that. If I say these movies are all perfect I’m branded a dimwit who doesn’t appreciate the classics and if I say they all suck, I’m a whiny tortured fanboy. Luckily my opinion is somewhere in the middle. Overall I think the state of Hollywood superhero movies has been getting steadily better since the great Superhero 180** of 2008 when Iron Man and The Dark Knight came out. I’m not saying they’ve all been great since then because…..
um....yeah some of them I wish I could unwatch..
….but most of them are good. What makes the good movies good are when the filmmakers focus on making an interesting story, specifically the real human elements of the characters, then seeing how they can fit in the superhero and action. For instance, at their core Thor and Tony Stark are arrogant, self absorbed pricks who need to be taken down a peg before becoming the best versions of themselves. Seeing them go through their psychological changes from beginning to end (and across two films in Tony’s case) is just as entertaining as seeing them kick ass with their superpowers.
The Photon Effect offers the same, if not better character development and interaction. It’s not just about shooting beams of energy and running really fast. The movie is about the underlying tension between two people and the effect the newfound abilities have on that relationship. When stripped of the action and effects, The Photon Effect can certainly pass as an effective drama.
Of all the superhero films in the past 10 years, I think Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are the best and (big surprise!) I see how The Photon Effect is similar to that film as well. Not so much in plot or action, but in the creative process.
It’s pretty obvious that in most of the superhero film franchises there’s a ton of people involved in making creative decisions. Of course there’s the director, then the revolving door of credited and uncredited screenwriters, and the producer(s) who own the rights to the property, and the second unit directors who handle stuff the director doesn’t have time for, and a bunch of other people I’m forgetting. All this collaboration can be good when everyone is on the same page (Iron Man), or very, very bad (Spider-Man 3).
Nolan’s Batman movies are made a bit differently. Christopher Nolan is the all powerful wielder of creative might in that universe. The writing team is him and either his brother or David Goyer. There is no second unit- Nolan is there for every shot. The head honchos at Warner Bros. wanted the new movie in 3D- Nolan told them to know their role and shut their mouth. This arrangement works when everyone involved trusts the vision of the main storyteller.
On TPE*** set, everyone knew Dan Poole was on the right track with his vision. He has his track record with his Spider-Man films, developed superpowers based on an occupation he was familiar with, and looked into his own past for character development. Not to say input wasn’t given, but the final say on all things creative was Dan’s.
That’s how TPE is similar to the best superhero movies out there. Now how is it unique? The big difference is these characters are all brand spanking new, not adapted from any previous work. This can be good and bad. We won’t have a mob of comic fans trying to tar and feather us for making the slightest artistic change to long beloved characters, which is a relief! But, this does come at a price.
Why does Hollywood keep churning out comic hero movies? Because there’s an established fan base already in place that will make the movie a safer investment. Hollywood is about marketing a film and turning a profit. This is nothing new, so people who keep whining about Hollywood need to either shut up or stop watching what’s being sold. Wait, I was trying to make a point, I think. Oh yeah…
Since these characters are new, there is no fan base for them. There’s fans of our director, who we greatly appreciate and who we hope enjoy the movie. It’s just that having to grow an audience instead of having legions of existing fans is pretty tough. So that’s why we’re blogging here, and on twitter (@Thephotoneffect), and facebook, and slapping up videos anywhere we can. We gotta get the word out, and we need your help. Tell all your friends and family about the movie, which really is coming soon. Follow us on facebook and twitter. And please please please ask us questions and comment here or through those other sites. We want to hear from you.
* What is the proper vernacular for describing people who “like” your facebook page? I’m going with Likers until I hear otherwise. No they can’t be “fans”. Facebook did away with that.
**Going from Spider-Man 3 and FF:Silver Surfer to Iron Man and Dark Knight was like trading from a Daewoo to a Ferrari.
***TPE is short for The Photon Effect if you haven’t guessed. I’m getting tired of writing the whole title.