Posted by: April on Jun 10, 2011
I just finished reading "Sorry Women, Summer Films Are for Boys," Dorothy Woodend's latest on The Tyee. Though we don't always agree, I'm a big fan Ms. Woodend's work. I went into this article with the suspicion that I wouldn't agree and not just because I'm a fan of the latest X-Men. Essentially because I'm a man-boy (or is it a boy-man?) at heart.
My best friend and I have a movie philosophy that amounts to "explosions Friday; art house Saturday." We're members of the Bytowne and love it there, and we're faithful patrons of the World Exchange Centre, a theatre more likely than the rest in Ottawa to pick up smaller films. But by the end of the week, you're not always in the right mental space to go deep or thoughtful or heavy. Sometimes you just want to watch things blow up real good.
Then I got to this caveat:
I like junk as much as the next fella, but I don't like it when junk is all there is, and it's increasingly harder to see something in the theatre, the choices are not all that diverse anymore.
Oh. Well, you got me there, Dorothy. Not to keep beating this drum, but I hear that.
Ms. Woodend also takes issue with what she calls "juvenilia." Scrolling through that list of original movies again, it's hard not to see her point. Very few of those movies are female-driven and those that are feature women acting like movie men* (or movie man-boys or movie boy-men): bad teachers who need to grow up (Bad Teacher, Larry Crowne), women who have sex like men (Friends with Benefits), women who put their cold-blooded revenge quests about all else (Colombiana). With the exception of A Better Life, all of the male-driven movies seem to feature characters who need to grow up/take control/accept responsibility for their lives.
*I'm qualifying that with "movie" because I don't really want to get into the difference between the way people act in movies vs. real life or generalize about what women are "really" like. Suffice it to say that I'm sure we all understand the "heightened reality" of filmmaking.
So while I agree, obviously, I also must disagree with the blanket application of the juvenilia theory to comic book adaptations. They are, almost always and usually in the second movie, all about putting away childish things. The hero must accept the responsibility placed on his (and, unfortunately, it's usually "his") shoulders by his powers and act accordingly. Even Magneto has to learn to let go of his childhood rage in order to fulfill his true potential as a mutant.
I think, perhaps, that the parallel between hamburgers and big summer actioners holds if you drop the McDonalds aspect: for many, a hamburger is just a hamburger; for others, the difference between McDonalds and The Works is self-evident.
P.S. I have a suspicion that Ms. Woodend and I could at least agree that Michael Fassbender is a dreamboat.