Posts Tagged ‘Fanboy’

Fan or Foe

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Face it fans have a lot to say especially when they disagree with decisions regarding the object of their obsession. This is true if you are a fan of anything be it fashion, cars, sports, films or comic books. Hardcore fans are preoccupied with detail and often deputize themselves as  guardians of that which they are focused.

The rise in popularity of the superhero genre has sounded a call to arms among comic book fans who are determined that their beloved characters are handled with the utmost respect but is their effrontery a good or bad thing for comics?

A recent Forbes article Hollywood Doesn’t Care About ‘Fanboy’ Approval addressed this issue candidly after fan fury arose over the dismissal of Edgar Wright as director of Ant Man.

The key point in the observation by Scott Mendelson is that Hollywood has no interest in ‘converting the converted.’ Why focus on the small radical fringe that will flock compulsively to a superhero film like a moth to a flame when the real money is in the sea of casual consumers who have no eye or patience for nuance or substance but will spend their money on colorful  “shock and awe” that appeals to the lowest common denominator?

This is the true irony for fans of comic books. Most of the comic characters that are currently being adapted into film were originally created to appeal to the broadest and most base market. Comics as a medium has expertly exploited stereotypes, simple plots, garish colors and bold imagery to attract consumers for decades.

Fans of the medium, however, have slowly taken over the industry. Comics have matured and gained greater respect as a literary medium. Comics have become more sophisticated in all areas of execution as they now to appeal to the exclusively refined taste of Fandom.

The market, however, has shrunk, with the appeal now focused on a very finite base. The casual reader has been turned toward the door. Comics are no longer just for anybody and everybody. Reading comics has become a commitment. A required appreciation of back story, and a learned sense of visual literacy along with an elevated speculative value of the product that requires  mylar sleeves and a grading system is deemed necessary to fully enjoy a comic today.

Gone are the days when a comic could be read on impulse, folded and tucked in a back pocket to later be shared with several friends before finding its way into the trash heap.

Hollywood recognizes the impulse appeal of superheroes. They value them as eye candy, bubble gum for the mind and pop corn at the multiplex.

The best superhero movies that are made can please both audiences. They adhere to the archetypes of the source material that has allowed it to become engrained in our society as a form of modern mythology while taking advantage of advances in technology to embellish it with a sense of realism.

Fans have to decide if it is better that comic related films can appeal to the masses in a way that guarantees profitability and a continuous saturation of superheroes into our popular culture or to enforce the refinement of the medium so that it appeals only to those with a fanatic interest in the medium.

The wonderful thing is that, as true fans of comics, we can have it both ways. Let there be cheesy, fun superhero films that attract broad attention so that fresh blood can be introduced to the culture that creates comics. Pulp fiction never prevented great novels from being written  so why should pop culture driven superhero films prevent great comics and great film adaptations of them?

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco




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