The current state of superhero storytelling in film across the globe.
Are you desensitized to worldwide apocalyptic scenarios where humanity’s only hope for survival comes down to a handful of heroes comprised almost entirely of supernaturally powerful white men and their ability to punch people really well? Me neither! I guess it’d be nice if there were a more diverse variety of characters, and not every problem has to be an all or nothing world ending doom event, but the fisticuffs are still cool. The United States is the current monopoly on the superhero film industry, and the blockbusters of America tend to be blockbusters everywhere else. In 2016, the worldwide gross of just our superhero films alone more than doubles the entire revenue of the film industry in India, a country with thrice as many people and cinema production unrivaled in terms of quantity of movies made. Sooner or later, other countries are going to want a piece of that sweet, sweet money-making pie. So, what does the current superhero slate look like abroad?
Zaschitniki, known as Guardians to us English speakin’ folk, is set to hit Russian theaters in 2017. This movie looks dope, right? I know, the English dubbing wasn’t performed very enthusiastically, and the scripted dialogue certainly didn’t help. My interest in superhero films very rarely comes down to quality story content or context of super-human abilities, i.e. Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad both made the same amount of money off of me this year even though they’re on opposite ends of the movie excellence spectrum. I just mean that I will 100% for sure see any movie that features a dual half-moon/scythe sword wielding assassin, a telekinetic/element master guy, and a minigun slinging werebear. The heroine can transform into water or something, but the trailer didn’t really highlight her abilities much. Guardians also features mech warfare and is going to be set in Cold War era Russia. Sold!
I briefly spoke on A Flying Jatt already, but its trailer is so fantastic, it warrants further mentioning. Few can pull off the blend of action and comedy the way a Bollywood production can. Because not every country is the USA – even though we’re working really hard to change that; you’re welcome, Earth! – and not every studio can drop a $100 million like it’s a penny in a wishing well where every wish is for more money and it always comes true, the effects have to be done in a clever way to garner attention from audiences spoiled by green-screen wizardry. The trailer looks like it has achieved a great practical versus computer generated balance. Also, there will be dancing. If you ever ask yourself, “Is there too much dancing in this superhero movie?”, the answer will always be, “No.”
Joe and Anthony Russo, the filmmakers behind Captain America: Civil War, and their China-based film company are working hand-in-hand with a Chinese production company to create an original superhero origin film called Hero’s Awakening set to begin filming in October. Not much has been unveiled so far about this other than it will be “wholly Chinese”. I don’t know what that means, especially since whitewashing in Chinese movies is such a big deal right now with the controversy that surrounded The Great Wall. Thanks a lot, Matt Damon. (Like, for real thanks. You’re a great actor, and your movies are great. I’m sure this is all just a big misunderstanding. Love you. Kisses.)
Western Europers don’t really care to make their own superhero films, it seems. It may have something to do with the fact that half of our superheroes end up destroying their Eiffel Towers and Big Bens anyway; it’d just be redundant. France had the animated Phantom Boy just make a run in art house theaters here in the States. The UK had Superbob last year, and it was received well, but I haven’t seen it yet, SO NO SPOILERS! Japan rules the animated domain, and the majority of the their stories that I’m familiar with feature enhanced people or cyborgs or aliens or robots or people in robots, etc. Our superhero stuff seems tepid compared to Japan’s filmography. South Korea enjoys its dystopian, world ending movies – Train to Busan is killing it right now. Slap a cape on one of the protagonists, and you got yourself a certifiable hit times 2!
And of course, the United States is all superheroed up for the foreseeable future. Since so many other countries take influence from Hollywood’s creations, I’m hoping they will push the boundaries further. I don’t mean exponentially increase the stakes every time, which they’re already doing. Pretty soon, Batman is going to be trying to save the entire universe, not just Gotham. He can handle that shit, though. I mean push diversity in characters and stories. Go weird sometimes. America’s greatest superhero, Superman, is the whitest, lamest person possible. AND HE’S NOT EVEN A PERSON! Good thing his Kryptonian ship landed in the whitest, lamest state: Kansas. (Just kidding, Kansas readers! LOL, Kansas “readers”. Like that exists. Just kidding again!) Money and imagination are the only limits to Hollywood’s potential. It’s crazy to think the latter is more restrictive than the former.