The Kenblog: “Thor: Ragnarok” Indicative Of What Moviegoing Audiences Need!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog!
“Thor: Ragnarok” the latest Marvel superhero extravaganza is making a mint at the box office. Filled with comedy, eccentric characters and the best production values The House Of Mouse can buy, the third installment in the continuing adventures of Asgard’s favorite hammer wielding superhero is everything the moviegoing public wants. More importantly, Thor is apparently what the moviegoing audience needs.
You take a look at this year’s box office and it was a decidedly a mixed bag for Hollywood. Venerable franchises like Pirates Of The Caribbean and Transformers underperformed and new attempts at creating franchises like Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets fell well short of the mark. But for all the ups and downs of the box office one thing remain consistent: comic book movies are insanely popular.
Just look at the facts. Three of the top five movies this year are comic book films. “Wonder Woman,” “Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” posted huge numbers both domestically and internationally. Thor has already made $500 million worldwide is a little over two weeks, so it’s on its way to joining that exclusive club. Despite the contradictory reports of franchise fatigue, these movies continue to do big business.
Why is that?
Aside from being well-made, entertaining fare (for the most part) I believe that comic book movies, specifically the Marvel brand, fulfills a need for the good guys to win the day. We have an alarming reality in front of us for the most part, from the divisive politics to the threat of all-out war to the fact that Mother Nature could possibly shake us off the planet the way a dog shakes off fleas in the next century or so. The news is filled with doom-and-gloom and watching any of the 24-hour news channels is enough to make you build your own doomsday bunker and never come out again.
Now there is a certain person I consider to be my closest friend who thinks super-hero films (or more importantly, the proliferation of said films in recent years) represent the dumbing down of America. I might be inclined to agree with him if he’d seen more than a couple of the films he’s berating. To be fair, he’s of a slightly different generation and his own personal cinematic tastes run to the grit-and-grime aesthetic of the 1970s.
Hell, it’s okay not to like superhero films. I’m not trying to convince either my friend or the rest of you out there that movies based on comic books are the end-all-be-all for everyone. But dismissing them as lowest-common-denominator filmmaking for the brain-dead masses is doing this films a great disservice. Most of these so-called “brain-dead masses” are people just like you and me, people attempting to find just the smallest bit of joy in a life that has been devoid of it for the most part. The neat thing about movies is that there is something for everyone. If you are like my friend there are plenty of art-house, gritty dramas and thrillers out there to keep you from being forced to see heroes and villains in tights fighting through CGI landscapes.
That said, most of the superhero films being made nowadays are wonderfully constructed affairs with heart and characters you actually care about. Marvel Studios has had the most success with this, but Warner Brothers and DC are catching up and even their most uneven outings (“Suicide Squad,” anyone) have some good stuff in them. People get hope from the strangest things, but if a couple of hours watching the good guys beat the bad guys on the grandest of science fiction-inspired stages is able to give regular folks like us some relief from the chaos that is reality, then I say bring on more (well-made, of course) comic book movies. In deference to my good friend, I for one, cannot get enough. It’s the reason four of the top five movies of the year are based on superheroes. It’s the reason Thor and his Magic Sword (inside joke, there, heh) is filling the multiplexes and it’s the reason why “Justice League” is going to continue the trend of bringing millions to the theater to watch their favorite heroes come together to beat the villains.
Just like the way it should be in real life.
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