I think I know why Stan Lee has a cameo in most if not all of the Marvel movies. I think it’s because he’s genuinely delighted to see all these characters come to the big screen. Heck, Stan Lee had a cameo at the end of the 1990s “Spider-man” cartoon, so you know he really has a deep affection for the character (especially certain ones). Fans love the Marvel movies too. And judging by the box-office records, non-fans as well. It’s pretty awesome to see your favorite characters on the big screen slugging it out just the way you always imagined. I am, in general, in favor of this, however, like any franchise, the people responsible are out to make money and their blatant, naked greed needs to be curbed.
1) Quantity over quality (in general) – The more movies that are put out, the more uneven the quality will be. No one expected much from Iron Man, but it was awesome. So the studios cranked out a sequel, which also turned out to be awesome. Every Marvel movie that has come out will have a sequel (I didn’t need to read news from Comic Con to know that). By the by, I consider prequels to be pretty much the same thing as sequels, and their production motivated by the same factors. I think people did expect a lot from The Fantastic Four and it was lame (actually, I liked Ben and Johnny and Reed, but pretty much everything else was lacking). Nonetheless, the studio cranked out a sequel which managed to be marginally better but not in the realm of good and sent Chris Evans packing for a different Marvel franchise. Hells bells, Ghost Rider got a sequel! Sequels tend to suffer more than non-sequels just because it’s hard to tell a familiar story without telling the same story. However, sequels are almost guaranteed money-makers, so there will be sequels. Thus, the more sequels are produced, the greater likelihood of a lame movie. I will be very sad on many levels to see a lame “Iron Man” movie. But if you say it won’t happen because Marvel’s movies are so awesome to start with, I have three words for you – Batman and Robin.
2) Quantity over quality (movie stars) – The Marvel universe is populated with hundreds of superheroes. Many of them are off-limits right now (mostly the X-side of the universe) due to weird issues with movie rights that I don’t understand, but there are still dozens of characters to choose from, particularly if Marvel is really looking to do a series of “Avenger” movies. However, just because there are a lot of characters to choose from doesn’t mean every character deserves a movie. But the more movies that are produced, the more money will probably be made because people will have to pay to see the movie before they realize it is lame. The best example of this is the potentially upcoming Ant-Man movie. I really want to know are there are actually legions of rabid fanboys/girls clamoring to see Henry Pym make it to the big screen? And if so, what is wrong with them? Look, I try not to judge people for having their favorite characters no matter how much I may hate that character (*cough*EmmaFrost*cough*) but I see no point to an Ant-Man movie. I see no point from a character standpoint and I don’t even really see a point from a movie standpoint.
a) Henry Pym is a terrible character. His marriage to Janet van Dyne (also a terrible character in a lot of ways) was one of the most disastrous in the universe. He’s a terrible scientist. He tests his experimental technology on himself without, as far as I can tell, the motivation of losing funding or trying to regain a limb. Apparently he’s just impatient. He went crazy at least once when his experiment went wrong, beat his wife, and tried to destroy the Avengers at least once. When he tried to build an android, he gave it his brainwave patterns and the android turned evil (which I think says a LOT about Pym), and has attempted to destroy the Avengers several times over (although ironically Ultron’s effort to build an evil android produced the Vision and Jocasta). During the Civil War, he created a clone of Thor that also turned evil! Even the Skrull that impersonated him during the Secret Invasion hated being Henry Pym and thought he was a jerk.
b) From a movie standpoint, I think Pym’s superpower of growing and shrinking would be uninteresting and paradoxically come with a high special effects price-tag. First, the audience would have to get over the ridiculousness of “Pym particles” which was the 1960s techno-babble for his method of growing and shrinking. Second, shrinking down to the size of an ant and even being able to communicate with them is not that useful compared to, I don’t know, every single other Avenger, unless you really want to ruin someone’s picnic. In the comics, he doesn’t even have any weapons as Ant-man (he does as Yellowjacket, which is basically him as the Wasp). Or on the other end of the scale, he can grow really big. Actually, Giant-man was only about 9 feet tall as far as I can tell, although when he returned as Goliath he was about 20 feet tall. Again, that’s hardly impressive when standing next the Hulk and Thor.
3) Regular reboots – This has already happened with Spider-man. Basically, if the movie makes money, why not remake it and make more money? Despite critical acclaim and commercial success, Sony rebooted the franchise a scarce ten years after Raimi’s set started and five years after it finished up. This means, in movie time, they got to work on this reboot as soon as the last Raimi movie was out on Netflix. Maybe that’s fine if the movie wasn’t very good (goodness knows Batman needed a reboot after the fiasco that was Batman and Robin; and the Incredible Hulk managed to be just enough of a sequel it wasn’t exactly a reboot [also the movie it followed wasn’t regarded as very good]). But Spider-man means success is no object. So what’s to stop them from rebooting Iron Man in just a few years? Or Captain America? If a franchise is successful, especially if it’s successful, they will want to reboot.
By the way, the best thing I can say for The Amazing Spider-man is that I didn’t have to pay for it. People will like this movie if:
1) They like “everyman in over his head” style action movies
2) They thought Batman Begins would be a better movie it was more family-friendly
As a generic action movie featuring an everyman character who soon finds himself in over his head, this is a decently enjoyable summer blockbuster. As a Spider-man movie, it pretty much fails. There is no witty banter. There is no charm. Peter Parker is just too cool. There’s no emotional depth or resonance. I’m not even comparing it to Raimi’s set (although it’s hard to avoid comparisons). I mean for the kind of person Spider-man is supposed to be as portrayed in the comics, this movie did not feature Spider-man. The names were the same, but the characters were not the same. It was relentlessly generic. It’s exactly what I thought it was going to be, unfortunately.
I think Marvel needs to slow down a bit. Yes, I’m excited about Captain America 2, Thor 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy. But I’m not excited about Ant-man and wasn’t excited about the Spider-man reboot and having seen the first one nor I am not excited about the rest of the trilogy. There are several characters I’d rather see in a movie than Ant-man that I think would be visually interesting and contribute more to the universe the studios are trying to build. But the studio seems more interesting in getting product out than the quality of what they make. That, unfortunately, means ultimately the movie-going populace will be subjected to some pretty bad movies.