C'mon Hollywood: Stop judging a movie by its rumor and being a better fan
Last week an article was posted in regards to some alleged BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE screenings that were received with a supposedly negative reception. Since then a furor of Internet rage has spread through the interwebs, inciting a general anxiety about the film and its future franchise potential, based almost entirely on that original report, which is by no means the final word on the status of the film or the shared universe DC/WB are building. If anything, it was merely an early report with early insider reactions that are completely internal (i.e. speak nothing about the public’s eventual perception of the film). In essence, the report is more about a studio being nervous for how a tentpole film will perform (how dare they?!) and some conjecture about what that might mean for the future of the DCEU.
None of that is fact. None of that represents your opinion of the film. And, none of that has any bearing on how the film will perform financially or critically. Put simply, no one in the general public has seen the film (and if they have, they sure as hell are staying true to the non-disclosure), including the author of that original post or any other movie news site, critic, scooper, etc. Beyond that, since the report went live we’ve already gotten an update (or two) that puts to rest much of the speculation in it. So you have to wonder: Was the Internet tantrum over that initial report worth it?
For what it’s worth (and I’ve shared this before) I’ve reached out to my own sources in regards to internal screenings of BVS and the word I got back was “They pulled it off”. Does that mean I’m right? Does that mean I’m full of shit? Does that mean someone else is wrong? Does that mean that they did, in fact, pull it off? Of course not. It just means that someone inside WB said “they pulled it off.” Take that as you will, but it speaks nothing about how you’ll feel when you finally sit down to see it for yourself. It’s just one more log on the hype fire. Warm your hands and move on. It should be that simple, right?
While fans had more faith that DEADPOOL would do well, nobody at Fox or any movie news site knew that it would end up having a $135 million weekend and go on to break box office records. Unless you’re Biff Tannen with a Movie Almanac from the future, then you simply don’t know how a movie will ultimately perform. It’s not a game that can be rigged by the Mafia or politicians. It’s completely up to YOU. It’s the most honest vote in the world anymore. You put your money on a ticket and the sum of the people that do so will dictate what’s a hit and what isn’t. NONE of that success is dictated by an early report about nervous executives, snarky entertainment journalist commentary, rampant fan theories or faux Reddit reviews.
Another issue that seems to keep rearing its ugly head is the drawing of battle lines over every little thing between fans. The Marvel vs. DC fervor is downright baffling to me. Yes, each studio is pursuing their own vision, but this isn't a fanboy "Civil War". You don't have to choose a side. You can most certainly enjoy both, I assure you. And it's not just comic book movies that are bringing out the worst in fans. After THE FORCE AWAKENS came out there was a dividing line of those that loved it and those that didn't and each side was ready to take to the streets and riot over it. Even after it came out and folks seemed to receive it well there was already a movement to tear it to pieces and "prove" that no one would like it as much after repeat viewings (I'm four viewings in and still loving it, by the way). You can toss DEADPOOL into that ring as well. Those "you'll hate it when you come to your senses" pieces have already arrived. And that's where the stone-tossing fans and critics are dead wrong.
You see, whether or not a movie is good is determined by only one thing: Your opinion. Whether a movie is a hit or not is determined by one thing: Box Office Receipts. THAT’S IT. And neither is conjoined. Reviews can be shit and a movie can make a mint. Reviews can be great and the movie can barely make two nickels to rub together. You've probably got plenty of blu-ray’s/DVD’s sitting on your shelf that hover between rotten and fresh ratings as well as box office blockbusters and box office duds. I know I do. We like what we like, because we like it. Not because the Internet told us to or because it made a billion dollars at the box office. None of that matters when you pop in the disc and hit play.
I understand and sympathize with fans wanting to see a proper representation of their favorite comic book heroes on the big screen. I get it. I’m a decades-long comic reader and still go to the shop weekly to buy floppies. Believe me, I’m invested. I also grew up reading those comics when there wasn’t a cinematic equivalent to what we have today. I had 1990’s CAPTAIN AMERICA (and a few good BATMAN films, thankfully). There wasn’t an abundance of big-budget superhero films with top tier talent involved. It took ‘em a while, but it finally happened and now…shit, now, all I can do is bask in it. That doesn’t mean I love every single comic film that hits theaters, but damned if I don’t respect the hell out of the effort put into each of them (okay, except FANTASTIC FOUR). The most-hated of them today would’ve been beloved in my childhood (again, except FANTASTIC FOUR).
So, here’s the thing; while I know that many are anxious about BATMAN V SUPERMAN performing well, which, in turn, would keep the wheels spinning toward JUSTICE LEAGUE and the various spinoffs, we’re ultimately putting the cart before the horse. Let’s take it one movie at a time. Why should any of us care about box office, anyway? None of us are going to see any of those profits (since, y’know, we’re potentially fueling them). We have no stake in that. All we really want is a good movie. And that’s all we should want. But, wanting massive success of a franchise film under the pretense that it will give us more of those films seems counterproductive. Don’t we want that initial film to be good before we want it to be a mega hit that will give us more of the same? One thing at a time should be the name of the game.
A bigger problem lies with these slate announcements. They’ve become a double-edged sword. While they certainly serve to create hype for future films, they also give one hell of a gap of time for fans to speculate, for rumors to surface, and theories to run rampant about the eventual outcome of those films. In knowing what’s on the table, expectations and anticipation get built up to a level that can hardly be met by the time the film rolls around. If anything, I think Marvel and DC need to slow their roll in those types of announcements, especially since much of it changes and shifts anyway. We don’t need the whole enchilada. A few good bites will do.
Rumors will always come and go. That’s part of the game. But, rumors are just that: rumors. Any journalist worth his/her weight will let that be known in their reports (and most do). “Take it with a grain of salt” or “consider as a rumor” are typical things to watch out for. There’s a reason that’s put out. Because things change and, every so often, they turn out to not be true. That said, we tend to place our trust in those with a solid track record and that's legitimate thinking, but even those who are often correct can sometimes be wrong, myself included. While we do all we can to make sure these early reports are as accurate as possible, the simple fact is that things often change. That’s the risk you run when reporting early developments, scoops, and rumors and should be considered in any argument for or against the information in those articles.
You also have to consider the source. I mean, Anthony Mackie and James Gunn saying that CIVIL WAR is one of the best Marvel movies ever is a nice thing to hear, but really, would you expect them to say anything less? Alternately, when it comes to conjecture, speculation, or theories, it’s important to look at where that information is coming from and who’s delivering it. Is it some random anonymous shit from Reddit, the musings of a trusted journalist or an official announcement? Ultimately, everyone needs to learn to discern between fact, fiction, and rampant speculation. Unfortunately, too many people seem to take almost anything put on the internet at face value and/or have never harnessed the ability to think critically. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it true (gasp!).
In the end, the only thing you should care about is what YOU think. We are fans for a reason and we love these things for a reason and that’s all that matters in the grand scheme of it all. Despite any rumor, spoiler, or overhyped conjecture, the final say comes down to you, but only after you’ve seen the finished product (and decided how many times you’ll revisit). This whole judging-a-movie-by-its-rumor mentality is a disease that infects fandom and, ultimately, takes away the fun and excitement of being a fan at all. We essentially become those morons that smash their coffee table in the middle of a football game because their team isn’t winning. We all can and should be better than that. Maybe we should try not sentencing a film to death before we’ve reviewed all the evidence and given it a fair trial. Imagine that.
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