Wolverine vs. Watchmen: The Evolution of the Comic Book Movie

[posted by alcmaeonid]

What's he looking at?What’s he looking at?

Coming into this movie season, Watchmen seemed like the greatest movie ever, especially based on the trailer that was breathtaking.  Maybe it was the long wait, the R-rating, the unusual film making style, or the giant blue penis, but something about Watchmen prevented it from being the blockbuster hit it could have been.  I personally loved it.  I thought it was smart, complex, I greatly enjoyed the historical scenes, I loved the cinematography which resembled Sin City in looking like a page from a comic book, and I thought the story had a good resolution.  So why did Watchmen fail?

Because it is a great movie!

What I consider a great movie is one which leaves me thinking about it afterwards, possibly for days after.  And this movie had that, and it has great re-watch value because of the details that would probably be missed the first time around (did you know that Ozymandius is gay? There’s a file in his computer labeled “Little Boys”).

My criteria for a great movie seems normal, but I also consider a great movie one which breaks the mold and doesn’t adhere to the norms of Hollywood movies.  The blue penis alone made this movie original, and it is also an example of what turned it off to younger viewers and families.  This is key because young kids and teenagers usually flock to comic movies, but not Watchmen.

Not for kids

Not for kids

The modern comic film may look something like Watchmen, and as a film buff, I love the way comic book movies are made now.  Ever since Batman Begins they have become grittier and darker, and just better.  However, a parallel evolution has occurred.  Technology has become readily available and quite useful in film making, but it has dumbed down the films which utilize such technologies.  The perfect example is X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The first three movies were pretty good, but this new one is all action and makes no effort to have a thoughtful story.  X-Men the Last Stand had a pretty contrived plot, but at least there was some sense to the story.  This one progressed with as much sense as a Family Guy episode, and had about as many celebrity cameos.

Artists? at work? sort of

Artists? at work? sort of

Here you see Will I Am as one of the mutants, and another is Ryan Reynolds, who is the death knell of any movie with potential.  Liev Schreiber is a good actor, but as Sabertooth? But the casting wasn’t the biggest problem with the film.  No, that honor goes to that technology I mentioned before.  This movie seemed more concerned with flashy and confusing action scenes than with making a good film.

This scene was actually really cool

This scene was actually really cool

The opening 15 minutes was pretty good with the different wars and Sabertooth running everywhere like a cat mauling people.  That might have been the highlight of the whole film, which is disappointing.  Despite all its flaws, Wolverine made almost twice as much money in the US as Watchmen, which makes no sense to me.

Watchmen lineup

I guess I just consider a great movie one that is considered weird by most other people.  It might be asking too much for comic book movies to always deliver like Iron Man or Sin City, but I guess there are so many made these days that they can’t all be good.  It just astounds me how successful Wolverine is compared to Watchmen, but what do I know?

4 responses to “Wolverine vs. Watchmen: The Evolution of the Comic Book Movie

  1. I think Wolverine was more successful because it was more “action packed” than Watchmen. Plus, it’s really hard to beat out Hugh Jackman! Watchmen had a lot of great things going for them, but it required a lot of thinking to fully understand what that movie was trying to say. Wolverine is more pure, mindless entertainment with great looking actors. That’s Hollywood!

  2. This summer, apparently, the director’s cut of Watchmen will be released. It’s 3 hrs 20min… I saw both films and most definitely agree with you. Of course I’m biased, having grown up a comic book reader and read the Watchmen GN prior to seeing the film. Basically Mr. Snyder made the comic book movie that serious readers have been waiting for. He did not fail Watchment enthusiasts, but it’s box office fate suggests we are unlikely to see something on that level for a long time. Ostensibly the big budget studios exists to do more than just recycle crap, but this is where we are today.
    Basically it seems to come down to this: show a not-too-bloody impaling scene and it’s PG-13. Dismembered limbs – check. Explosions – check. Gratuitous, orgiastic violence – cool. Dick on godlike Blue guy – R rating. A hot chicks boobs and butt – definitely R…. you get the point by now I’m sure.

  3. alcmaeonid

    I agree with what you say, but I think the content of the story of Watchmen such as lesbians, lust as opposed to love, pedophilia, murdering a pregnant woman, etc. is more significant than aesthetics like blood or nudity in why it is a borderline “subversive” movie and not a blockbuster hit.

  4. Watchmen was EPIC…. i personally thought that it was one of the best movies ever made…
    It is a thinking man’s film.. it keeps us thinking about life and its meaning for years.. the dialogs were brilliant..

    “Every day the future looks a little bit darker. But the past, even the grimy parts of it … well it just keeps getting brighter all the time”

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