Comic Book Films: Critical Reception V. Fan Reception

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Critical Reception is oftentimes one of the determining factors as to whether or not a film is generally considered successful. Critics have been seen as an important factor in determining how a film is received and comic book films are no exception to this attitude. There have been several Comic Book Films that have been released and while some achieve critical and commercial success while others have not, but few have hit the point where the critics consensus and the fans consensus are at a divide. This year it seems like we have had this come to the forefront as big properties have made divisive films and entries in their series, but it has been a constant occurrence that makes film criticism more interesting and complicated.

In 2009 when Zack Snyder released Watchmen it was met by a sharp divide of opinions. Critically the film got mixed reviews, but many fans of the original comic embraced it because of how accurately it adapted it. In fact it is regarded by loyal fans as one of the most accurate comic book to film adaptations so far with dialogue being for the most part word for word the same. I am definitely one of those people who disagreed with the critics because I thought that Snyder did a wonderful adaptation that was visually striking and captured the tone set out in Alan Moore’s work well. It’s a film that has garnered a cult following of sorts. A cult following is defined by a smaller group of loyal fans who are dedicated to it. The term is generally used when referring to horror films that have garnered a following, but comic book movies are no exception to this type of following.

With this in mind Man of Steel and this year’s Batman V. Superman faced the same sort of divisive reception. Many DC fans have embraced both films and absolutely loved them while critics were mixed for Man of Steel and generally strongly disliked Batman V. Superman. Opinions vary for both of these films. I’ve read and heard arguments for people who loved these films and from people who absolutely hate them. These two films are some of  the most polarizing comic book films of all time and in the long run that might not be such a bad thing. It just shows that these are films with a little more depth to them and they keep being talked about. Having a film that is talked about is never a bad thing and there is a potential for a following for both films from loyal DC fans.

I’ve also seen some people come to the defense of X-Men Apocalypse. Some reviews for this film  have been quite mediocre, but fans of the franchise have also praised it. I’ve read a myriad of opinions on this film that range from comic fans who complain about the accuracy, film critics who don’t like the way the film was made, and fans of the film franchise who enjoy the film as part of the series. Whatever side you fall on it could be another example of fan divide.

Film is a fascinating medium. One that can be dissected from both an objective perspective, but also seen from a subjective point of view as well. There are rules when it comes to editing, cinematography, sound editing, acting, but it all comes down to whether or not the audience was entertained by the final product. If you happen to see a film that has gotten less than favorable reviews, but you happen to like it then that is great and shouldn’t be looked down on. It’s your own opinion because film like any art should be subjective. Art and film is about self-reflection so your tastes often reflect who you are.  If a film worked for you then it succeeded in what it set out to do.

The goal of most filmmakers is to make finished products that affect people in some way. They want their audiences to be entertained by the film that they make and even if their film is met with negative reception from critics the fans can really bring new life to a property. There are so many stories of films being released to some poor reception, but gaining popularity because of fans over the years. John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing was met with initial negative reception, but over the years it has gained traction and is considered as one of the greatest horror films. This example may be in the horror genre, but the comic book fans are just as passionate and have the ability to change the perception on how a film is received .

When you have an opinion don’t be afraid to differ from the mainstream consensus. Challenge the established opinions if you must. Be respectful about your opinion and hold onto it because it represents your own feelings and experiences. A bad review on a film doesn’t mean that it should determine or lessen your personal experiences with it.

 

So what do you think of this? Has there been an experience where you strongly disagreed with the critics?  Let us know in the comments!

Christian Michael Stoic

Christian Michael Stoic

Christian Michael Stoic is a writer, filmmaker, and comic lover from Los Angeles, CA. Heroic Hollywood is his introduction into the world of Journalism which...

  • Technofied

    Loved the article, I hated critics for bashing BVS and they just proved our point by ruining the reception of Apocalypse which I believed was a great movie. The only thing they seem to love is pointless humor.

    • Vegas82

      I have never hated critics for giving their honest assessment of a film they watched. I may disagree with their opinions, but hate them for doing their job? Seems misguided and childish.

      • Technofied

        you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. So what if I hate them for bashing movies so many people hold dear? Their biasness towards their beloved franchises is visible enough to see through concrete. I don’t wanna go into details but if you don’t like my comment, feel free to scroll up or, down!

        • Steve Steve

          Way to be defiantly childish. You’re a hero little fella.

          • Technofied

            if you say so.

    • Jake Bucsko

      Yeah, critics hate Batman and X-Men movies, that’s why the Nolan films, First Class, and Days of Future Past got such terrible reviews

      • Jessie

        First Class and DOFP weren’t in direct competition with a Marvel film at the time. Very different. Apocalypse had a press screening on the same opening weekend as Civil War, and many critics compared Apocalypse to that film.

        • Jake Bucsko

          Nope. First Class came out a few weeks after Thor. Days of Future Past came out a month or so after Winter Soldier.

          • Jessie

            First Class came out a month after Thor, and the similarities between those two films are about as close as night and day. Not to mention, this was before the Avengers movie and big craze for MCU films. And Days of Future Past didn’t debut for nearly 2 months after Winter Soldier. Apocalypse premiered very close to Civil War and even had a press screening on the same opening weekend. According to several people that went there, comparisons between the two films were being made, and Apocalypse was put down as a terrible film for not being able to measure up.

          • Jake Bucsko

            First Class came out 3 weeks after Thor. It was exactly the same time frame between Civil War and Apocalypse. WS was the beginning of April, Days the end of May, so it isn’t as if it had already been forgotten.

            Difference is pretty simple: Apocalypse can’t measure up. Fan reaction and box office back that up. There’s no conspiracy to bury non-MCU comic book movies, as Deadpool pretty obviously showed. Make a good movie and people will find it.

          • Jessie

            First Class came out on June 3rd(with a premiere screening on May 25th), Thor was released overseas first on April 17-21st. That’s definitely over a month apart from each other(no where close to how Apocalypse was for Civil War). And, it’s as I said, it was before the MCU craze. Thor came after the mediocre Ironman 2 and Incredible Hulk. People weren’t clamoring for Marvel films like they are now. So the comparison doesn’t work either way you slice it, and it’s the same for Deadpool, which wasn’t in any direct competition with a Marvel film either and was a far different type of film, being r rated and more of a parody of superhero films.

            The audience score for Apocalypse was an A-, indicating that people thought it was a good film. Critical reception is mixed but it mostly has to do with it not comparing to Civil War. Box Office is affected because critics are bashing it unfairly, but it’s still fairing well overseas and it did better than Alice and TMNT, which it is in direct competition with.

            Also, Apocalypse had far less star power(very little advertisement pointed to Wolverine in the movie and no original cast), and the budget was much smaller than Batman v Superman and Civil War. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy to bury non-MCU comic book movies, but I do think there’s a bias from critics when there are films that pose a credible threat to Marvel films. Apocalypse deserved to be on the losing side, but it did not deserve to be crushed. It was still a solid superhero film.

          • Technofied

            The only reason deadpool did well with the critics was the fact that it was in contrast with the X Men movies which are nothing like it. They are dark, often funny but mostly gritty. Deadpool on the other hand was
            more like the MCU movies.

            As far as apocalypse go, you are wrong, the internet and the fans suggest otherwise. The movie was widely praised by the comic book fans and the only reason the movie didn’t do well on box office was the superhero fatigue. General moviegoers who can’t afford a $20/30 imax ticket tends to lean more towards the critics and put their money on the winning horse, which in this case was Civil War, widely praised by the critics which is ludicrous because the movie had a lot of plot holes that everybody seemed to be okay to look past. On the other hand, BVS was nicked picked on petty things which brings proves the point!

      • Technofied

        I have seen a lot of people putting up the nolan movies argument but what they don’t understand is that it was a stand alone franchise and was not trying to build a shared universe. Frankly speaking, I don’t care whether you agree or, not but the truth is that most of the people among the critics tend to leans more towards the MCU and cannot stand anything else emerge as a competition. They are so blinded by the overused humor formula and they’ve got rainbows going so far up their holes they can’t stand anything else!

    • Axxell

      That anyone suddenly thinks that reviews ruin movies is just baffling. Whether you enjoyed it or hated it, it sure wasn’t because of anything the critics did, having nothing to do with the final presentation.

      • Technofied

        Tell that to the critics that their opinions don’t matter. I am sure they’ll love it as they make a living out of it :)

        • Axxell

          Don’t twist my comment into something it isn’t; I never said their opinions didn’t matter. Read again.

          • Technofied

            That anyone suddenly thinks that reviews ruin movies is just baffling. Whether you enjoyed it or hated it, it sure wasn’t because of anything the critics did, having nothing to do with the final presentation.

            Look at what they did with X Men Apocalypse! And you say I twisted your words? That is exactly what you said!!

          • Axxell

            What happened to X-Men Apocalypse was deserved…not because critics ruined it. The movie was already ruined.

            And just because I said they didn’t ruin it doesn’t mean their opinions don’t matter…They just don’t work in the way you claim they do.

          • Technofied

            That is your disbelief but half the world is talking about the critics bias, if you don’t want to believe, that’s your choice. Like I said, every man has a right to have their opinion. I have mine, you have yours. Best of luck!

          • Axxell

            The problem here isn’t critic bias; it’s audience bias…a certain amount of people who believe a certain genre or brand DESERVES by birthright to have all their content praised.

          • Technofied

            You mean Disney/Marvel Fanboys, right! I know that already!

          • Axxell

            Except that Apocalypse is not a Disney movie…

          • Technofied

            In other news. water is wet!!

  • DarkoCool

    The fact that some people hated BvS doesn’t bother me. I personally love it and next to Deadpool think it’s the best CBM of the year so far. What bothers me is reading online someone saying it’s a bad movie without ever having watched it! Then when I ask “how can you have an opinion on something you’ve never seen” their reply is “well the critics hated it so it must suck, and everyone of BirthMoviesDeath hated it so it definitely sucks”. Baffling. If you’re letting critics determine what you should spend your money on you’re doing it wrong.

  • DarkoCool

    Steve Steve you are a logical comic book fan unlike many others. I love BvS but can certainly understand why you don’t. At least you as a fan supported it because as comic book fans we appreciate the DC universe. You didn’t let someone else tell you what to do with your money. I’m 38 and have been waiting most of my life for this super-hero film era. Guys like you and I are extremely lucky. We were there for the bad times and now we can really enjoy these mostly great adaptations. Also I’m with you on Citizen Kane but I won’t hear a bad word about The Maltese Falcon!

    • Steve Steve

      thanks for responding before my comment was flagged as “spam”

  • Steve Steve

    Christin, would you look for my original comment and un-flag it as spam? Not sure if you can do that, but it would be greatly appreciated sir.

  • Steve Steve

    As a person who thinks BvS is a terrible film (in structure, editing, tone, scope, story arcs, etc.), and despises the Snyder portrayal of Superman, I agree with the article. I love many terrible films, and I dislike, if acknowledge the excellence of, many film classics. Do not tell me BvS is great, but also do not view my disdain as condemnation of your taste.

    I enjoy the heck out of Batman and Robin. A fact to which I happily admit. I think Citizen Kane is one of the most over-rated films ever made, and holds merit only as a veritable paint-swatch of film techniques (innovations for which it does deserve immense credit).

    I was there opening night for Deadpool, BvS, and Civil War. I will be there opening night for Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange. I love this super-hero film era. I love the diversity in product, the passion from fans & filmmakers, the spectacle, the heart, and above all, the opportunity to see characters I love be treated with care on the big screen.

    I wanted to love BvS, I was disappointed, but I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to see it. God willing, I will be seeing these movies for the next fifty+ years and this era extends for many generations beyond.

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  • Lupin

    This is great write up Christian, I hope you’re able to do many more editorials on several diverse issues of heroic fandom.

    I have found that critics experience films differently from fans. Film critics watch films with an eye towards what works and what doesn’t both on a technical level and an entertainment level. Generally speaking – A film critic is as interested in how the dialogue in a scene plagiarizes a film from 1967 as whether said scene has an emotional impact on the viewer. On the other hand, fans/general audiences just want to be entertained. They just want to feel good about what they saw, even if it made them scared, cry, grieve, have questions or a range of emotions that aren’t necessarily fun. Critics are invested on the minutiae while for fans, the ends justify the means. This is the spine of why fans and critics can be divided over a film.

    This divisiveness is exacerbated by the fact that the tentpole film is dominating the studio’s release slate like never before. So fans vs critics is becoming a more prevalent and relevant issue.

    • Glad you enjoyed it and understood the point I was making with it. I’ll continue to write more on similar subject matter. Thank you for the insightful comment,

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