The Surprise Hits That Are Changing a Genre

The Surprise Hits That Are Changing a Genre

Logan and Wonder Woman are surprisingly well-received - so how is that going to affect superhero movies?

The superhero/comic book genre in film is probably the biggest money-maker for Hollywood right now. With huge successes like The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, and television programs such as The Walking Dead, it's not going anywhere. However, due to the several films released a year, the genre is running the very high risk of becoming stale. So far, 2017 has seen the release of three major movies – Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and Wonder Woman, with three more (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Justice League) by the end of the year. Of the three so far, Logan and Wonder Woman have almost changed the game entirely. One uses a combination of the superhero and Western genres to create a realistic, solemn film, the other focuses on a female hero while never making it “a big deal.” So with that in mind, what is going to keep the genre alive?

Logan takes the iconic Wolverine character, who had not seen a lot of success in his solo films, and gives us something we haven't seen much of in this kind of film – character development like an early 1970s drama. Hugh Jackman, the actor behind the adamantium claws for seventeen years, made this film his last, and made sure the film would be properly made, taking a pay cut to guarantee an R-rating. Now, even though Logan is R-rated, it isn't not good because they are given an “adult rating.” Logan is good because it doesn't do what many of these films do and simply a hack-and-slash action movie. One of the defining moments in the film is the scene in which Logan, Professor Xavier, and Laura sit down to have dinner with a family they met on the road. There is no mention of past adventures, no bad “Wolverine's claws come out when they aren't supposed to” joke, nor is there any trait of the superhero genre beyond the mutants at the table. It also does not use the name “Wolverine” in the title, contrasting with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The Wolverine. He is no longer an X-Men member, he is a shadow of his former self – something we haven't seen in such a way in a superhero film. The story is small, the action contained, and only one explosion occurs in the entire film. It is the antithesis of the modern blockbuster – a story of an old man who just wants to get away from the action and violence.

The semi-opposite would be the first film this year released by DC Comics. Wonder Woman is the first modern (read: post-Iron Man) superhero movie to have a female lead, and after the box office and long-time audience reaction to the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, was a massive gamble. However, unlike Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman is not a movie about a perfect, do-no-wrong woman and a crew of bumbling male sidekicks. Instead, the male characters, such as Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), are major aspects in their own right – they're for the most part soldiers, who know what World War I is like from their own experiences. This makes a contrast with Wonder Woman herself, who is unaware of the true horrors of war, but is still willing to walk across No Man's Land to save the people of a local village – which itself has some metaphor, as while none of the soldiers on either side will cross, Wonder Woman will. Despite this one major moment, much of the movie portrays her team as highly-skilled operatives, just as capable as the hero is. What this signals is a minority-led film (the title character is portrayed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot) that doesn't make the lead a token minority, and makes the supporting cast just as well-developed as she is.

So beyond making their individual films good, what do these two mean in the grand scheme of things when it comes to superhero movies? First off, the critical and audience reception shows that people want to see new things and experimentation within the tried and true genre, breaking away from the cut-and-paste formula. Scenes like the previously mentioned dinner scene and No Man's Land scenes are already being hailed as some of the best in the genre – a collection that includes the iconic “I've got you, miss”/ “You've got me...who's got you?!” and “Can You Read My Mind” scenes from Superman: The Movie all the way back in 1978. Logan does not use the name of the hero, and uses the freedom of its R-rating to, as stated above, portray a man at the end of the rope, and Wonder Woman is both an inspiring story and shows the entire cast as strong – giving everybody something to like. Compare that to what was also considered a game changer, Deadpool. That film really just uses the same old formula of comic book movies, but with a lot of dirty jokes and a lack of a fourth wall. And while that does work for that single film, in the long-run, that will grow tiresome and leaves no room to try something new and different – which is exactly what Logan did. Wonder Woman is also the most well-received of the DCEU movies, and many are already suggesting making that film the standard to which DC must work to. Maybe it was because of the unfamiliar territory they were getting into, or maybe they finally learned. Either way, the same can be said for Logan. Guess the two companies aren't that different after all.

But there is a limit of course. If the genre goes too far away from some form, then it starts to lose the aspects that originally brought people into the theaters. Things like well-made action scenes, character work, heroes doing what they do best, a cast giving their all – those are what makes the genre work. When that all is accomplished, then they can try something new. Go too far, and you get Amazing Spider-Man 2. Do it just right, and you get Captain America: Civil War. There is plenty of room to move around and try a different approach, as there is in the comics themselves. As we've seen so far with the two surprise hits, as long as the happy medium can be found, then we're in for a new age of superhero movies. Maybe that will be how they'll save themselves following the already hyped Avengers: Infinity War. Change and different takes are great, it just depends on how they handle said take.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Brothers/DC Comics

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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