Back in December last year, watching the trailer for the recently released Spider Man movie, I clocked one shot and decided I would not be seeing the movie. Even now, six months later, after a pretty aggressive marketing campaign and some pretty good reviews, I have seen nothing to make me change my mind.
The thing is, there was one tiny, blink and you’d miss it moment where someone walks past the apparel of some of Spidey’s enemies, notably Doctor Octopus and Vulture. Clearly with Goblin, Electro and Rhino also in the trailer at some point we were going to get a super villain team up. The idea of this makes my heart sink.
I understand this didn’t eventually happen in The Amazing Spider Man 2 but sure enough we are now being promised a Sinister Six movie. In the Marvel comic universe the Sinister Six are a group of the web slingers most formidable foes coming together to squash him once and for all.
Until recently it was a widely accepted filmic precept that too many crooks spoil the broth, with this very thing having killed off both the previous Spider Man and the Batman series. Then Joss Whedon came along and made managing an ensemble cast in a blockbuster movie look easy.
Avengers was clearly excellent but now it seems there is a team up bandwagon and lots of people are keen to get on board. While some of these projects may work, the majority are bound to be terrible. This kind of film is really hard to pull off and the second you forget that you, are going to mess it up. Just look at what happened with the X-Men franchise, parts one and two were great but three was considerably less so. The reboot X-Men: First Class was a little better but still the majority of the mutants were marginalised. (I’m very interested to see what comes out of Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters when prequel/sequel/prequalsequel X-Men: Days of Future Past comes out on Friday.)
We are definitely experiencing a trend here. Take the new TV show Penny Dreadful for example. Large casts work okay on the box as you have the time to give each character screen time but this programme isn’t just giving us another Scooby Gang.
In Penny Dreadful we have figures from Victorian literature Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein and the father of Mina Harker teaming up with adventurer Ethan Chandler and enigmatic woman Vanessa Ives. These last two will no doubt turn out to have links to other well known characters at some point. He is probably one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys and she will be the illegitimate daughter of Sherlock Holmes, or maybe a humanoid manifestation of Dinah, Alice’s cat. The idea of this show isn’t new, it actually borrowing concepts and a relation of one of the main characters from Alan Moore’s comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Elsewhere in TV land we have Once Upon a Time which is a weird mash up of Disney Princesses all living alternate lives like some big budget slice of fan fiction and in cinemas, after Superman, Batman and Wonder woman have breathed the same air in 2016 we are moving on to a full Justice League movie. (Justice League is DC comics version of The Avengers featuring Bats, Supes, Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, Flash, Aqua Man and The Martian Manhunter. It actually predates Nick Fury’s crew.)
Please stop with the team ups. They are not the sure fire fan pleasing, money making projects you think they are. Superhero films are better when you have more character, not more characters.
It’s going to be hard to take this stuff seriously. There is a reason why Abbot and Costello meet Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman was a comedy.