We're seeing an evolution of the comic book movie my friends, brought on by directors like Sam Raimi and Christopher Nolan and now Favreau. Gone are the days of passing these off as high-priced popcorn. I suppose if they gave the reins to the likes of Michael Bay and Bret Ratner (which they did of course with X-Men 3), then that's about as far as we would get. Fortunately there's someone out there who had the insight to listen to the ludicrous idea of Jon Favreau delivering a big budget comic book movie. And who is that guy with all that insight? Or gal? Please buy them a drink from me and send me the bill. They deserve it. Okay, back to my questions.
The second question I had was who the hell would have thought that Robert Downey Jr. would have made an excellent main character in a comic book movie? I remember when the original Batman came out and Michael Keaton was cast. It was an interesting choice but honestly I didn't really see a good marriage there. I think Keaton was cast more for his lips than anything else. And everybody hooted and hollered about Jack Nicholson as the Joker, but really who didn't see that coming? It's not like you were casting against type there. But Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark? His flamboyance was perfect and probably a no-brainer, but he also had the depth to make the convincing transformation from war monger to super hero. Of course there are lots of people out there that can pull that off, but not many that can have so much fun with it.
It's hard to believe that amidst all the dreck that comes out, especially during the Summer, that there are still people out there in Hollywood taking risks. And not just little itty bitty risks. But big, huge risks. Favreau, while a very lovable character in movies and on TV, doesn't exactly have a bankable track record. The reception of his first movie Made was mixed, and Zathura never found its audience. Elf was a hit, but it was hardly the paved road on the way to "hey, I can deliver a big budget summer movie."
One hopes that these risks amount to something other than huge pay raises and bigger offices for the the person(s) involved. One would hope that Hollywood might perk up its ears and take note. Afterall, this isn't the first time that major risks have paid off. Look at Peter Jackson and the trilogy that made Robert Shaye the money whore he is today. Or Sam Raimi with Spiderman? Or all the way back to Tim Burton with Batman? It would be nice to see some of these risks translate to other areas of movie making that maybe don't need hundreds of millions of dollars or a super hero attached. It would be nice to think that movies such as Zodiac and There Will Be Blood are more the norm than the exception in any particular year. Jeez, wouldn't that be weird. To think that it's not the little independent features that could drive better films, but the big super hero movies instead. It is Hollywood after all, and stranger things have happened.