EPIC VILLAINS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD
If I may quote Mission Impossible 2:
“Every search for a hero must begin with something which every hero requires… A villain.”
We all love great villains. They are the reason our heroes are called to action in the first place. Throughout history we have been blessed with iconic and unforgettable villains. The Wicked Witch of the West, Hannibal Lector, Darth Vader, Auric Goldfinger, Nurse Ratched, The Joker, Norman Bates, Freddy Krueger, Verbal Kint, Biff Tannen, Bill the Butcher, Doc Ock, Tommy DeVito, Alex DeLarge…
Dramas, horror, thrillers, comedies… Every genre has it’s classics but no group faces more scrutiny that the Summer Blockbusters. Big franchises, sequels and the unstoppable force known as the comic book movie.
It’s the first question we all ask when a giant blockbuster is announced. Whether it’s a new franchise or a sequel we all want to know who our favorite heroes will fight next. How will these villains look? Sound? Move?
Fans crave every detail leading up to the movies they cannot wait to see. I remember staring at this image wondering what Christopher Nolan’s Joker would be like.
The Joker was brilliantly realized by Nolan and wonderfully portrayed by the late Heath Ledger. However, by the time the movie arrived, we had several trailers, clips and more that took away at least a little of the mystery. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. We live in a different time. I suppose the question is…
Can you keep a big villain secret? Should you?
I wonder how much scrutiny Darth Vader would face if Star Wars was released today. A world where studios preemptively release images from sets in order to beat the spies to the punch. Every time a movie shoots an exterior scene, images shot on cell phones pop up online. We live in an age of social media. An era where promotion is 24/7 and fans are closer than ever to the development process.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat. Here I am, discussing my relentless craving for new villain reveals while complaining that we know too much before they are unleashed. I just appreciate the evolution of the villain reveal.
We may have 4 or 5 trailers for each big blockbuster these days but I could choose to avoid them. I just don’t. I simply cannot resist pressing play and envisioning the adventures that await on the silver screen.
There are filmmakers out there who work tirelessly to keep their big projects a secret. J.J Abrams immediately comes to mind. When he and his team produced Cloverfield, it nearly broke the internet when they unveiled the mysterious trailer. What the hell did the Cloverfield monster look like?
Personally, it drove me nuts for months. The director repeated this tactic when he created Super 8. It’s a proven way to generate interest in a film. Super 8 was actually my favorite movie of 2011.
He’s doing it again with Star Trek Into Darkness. Who is John Harrison? Is it really Kahn? The answers are coming.
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Honestly, I can’t decide which side I’m on.
Do I prefer the shroud of secrecy and the anticipation it ignites? Or do I want a constant stream of updates and risk burning out before the lights dim?
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
In the last few weeks, we were treated to new trailers that revealed Superman’s enemy Zod and Thor’s next challenge Malekith. Both look incredible.
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We were also given a glimpse of Jamie Foxx as Electro in next summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
Would you rather wait to see the villain?
I’m not sure if you can argue one way or another which approach is better. Secrecy is frustrating but could ramp up the hype to impossible heights. On the other hand, transparency invites discussion online and the promotion never stops. There are pros and cons to both. Sometimes too much secrecy can be seen as a weakness or a lack of faith in the studio. Sometimes, a villain is revealed and hardcore fans tear it apart in vicious blog posts, tweets and parodies.
Yet sometimes, magic can be captured in the imagination of a film fan’s curiosity. The same blogs and tweets can also be overwhelmingly positive. Take Electro for example. I think he’s going to look awesome on the big screen. I can’t wait to see what he looks like with added effects.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how or when a villain is revealed. Whether it’s a year out or opening night, the only thing that really matters is… The story.
The next generation of heroes and villains are coming. Which ones will claim their place amongst the greatest of all time? That’s a search that will never end.