Friday 10 January 2014

Film School Friday Lesson #19 - How To Make A Terrible Superhero Film


Last week, Film School Friday held an acting masterclass in honor of Nicolas Cage, King of the Nutters (I used capitals because that's really a thing you know). If you took my advice then thank you. I'm honored you'd use up your 15 minutes of allotted internet time to read this week's lesson. Just remember to log off once you've finished and slip that straitjacket back on right away. I don't want to be responsible for anyone catching their death of cold. That's not how we do things here.

Now onto the learning. Yay learning! This week's lesson was inspired by Cage's restrained, under-stated performance in Ghost Rider and its even better follow up Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Terrible, terrible films I'm sure you agree but they didn't do too badly at the box office. Comic book movies make big bucks but as Ghost Rider proves, it takes a lot to actually pull them off successfully. My point then is why bother trying to make them good? Even a horrendous comic book movie will make you money in the short term so if you want to make a superhero film, just put minimum effort in. You'll make a mint, so pick a random comic book character, ring up the studios and put the charm on as we read today's lesson.


Lesson #19 - How To Make A Terrible Superhero Film

If you want to make a really terrible superhero movie - one so bad that watching it feels like a personal attack against you and everyone you've ever loved - may I recommend writing a script starring the Great Lakes Avengers? If you've ever kissed a living person before, you may not have heard of characters such as Doorman, Big Bertha and Dinah Soar but bless them, these bizarre little characters have been knocking around in the Marvel Universe for quite a few years now and godammit they deserve their own movie and yes, it will be terrible... Unless of course you make it fun in an ironic kind of way. Follow the rest of my tips to ensure that this won't happen.

Roll Call

Films like Supergirl or Batman Forever have so much cheese that you could spread it on crackers. Be careful though, if you cast anyone with talent for your film, they may try their best to reduce the cheese factor. Meryl Streep is not the go to girl here, although she could probably do an awesome Squirrel Girl given the right script. Like Ben Affleck in Daredevil, and possibly Batman VS. Superman, you need to cast someone who will cause outrage due to their inability to handle the character in the way fans will want. Unfortunately, the Great Lakes Avengers don't really have any fans to speak of, but it's still important to piss people off in order to generate publicity. Don't forget, we still need to break even!
squirrel girl

For the role of the group's eternal leader Mr Immortal, may I go out on a limb here and suggest Ben Affleck? Who better to piss off the Comic-Con fans then a proven flop? But what about Doorman, the African American teleporter? Why, Ben Affleck of course. Cloud Atlas proved that casting actors as different races is bound to go down well with the critics. In all seriousness though, who could we choose to play Big Bertha, a mutant who can become morbidly obese at will? John Travolta impressed as Tracy Turnblad in the Hairspray musical adaptation so why can't we repeat that again here... with Ben Affleck in his left over fat suit? I could go on, trying to cast Flatman or Dinah Soar, but let's not kid ourselves here people. It's Ben Affleck all the way. Ain't modern CGI a wonderful thing?

Dress Up Time

Now that we've cast the entire team as Ben Affleck, we need to think of ways to make each character stand out so audiences don't mix them up. It's time to think costumes. Black leather is pretty popular with the super hero community, but what can we do to jazz those body suits up a bit? Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman looked incredible with the pointy ears and kinky zips so that's Squirrel Girl's costume sorted straight away. We just need to make it brown and add a utility belt for her to store some nuts... They're for the squirrels guys! Geez... 

But what about the rest of the team? I say, let's keep the leather costumes but give each member a different colour so they're easier to spot. Oh yeah, and prosthetic pointy out nipples. If they're good enough for George Clooney in Batman & Robin, then they're good enough for us. Just get a head start on Big Bertha's. I recommend sewing numerous parachutes together. And that's just for her nipples!
stilt man

Too Many Evil-Doers
Leather nipples are great and all but if I had to pick out the one thing that made Batman & Robin such a terrible movie, I'd say it has to be the poor script... or the terrible casting... or the campy dialogue... goddammit, there isn't one thing. It was just a terrible film, but you know what? People still remember it. I hope in decades to come, people will look back at The Great Lakes Avengers movie and think "Man, that was a load of shit too."

To equal Batman & Robin in the crap stakes, one thing we definitely need is too many villains. Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy, Bane... too many campy villains spoil the broth. Spider-Man 3 suffered the exact same fate with some serious villain overload so who could we pick to star in our film? A lot of the good Marvel villains like Magneto and Dr Doom have already been taken so I'm thinking we go for Egghead (he's clever), Leap-Frog (he can jump high) and Stilt Man (he errrrrr... has stilts). On their own, each of these villains is pretty lame but put them all together and what have we got? Even more lameness! I don't know who we should cast yet in each of these roles. Please let me know who you think might be suitable in the comments section below. I'm thinking maybe Ben Affleck...

Quantity Over Quality

Now there's one last thing we need to make our terrible superhero film and that's to piss off as many people as possible with our brand. After the first week of release, we 'll need to immediately announce at least four more sequels that will be stretched out over the next decade or so, each one progressively diminishing in quality. Perhaps we could even preempt each follow up with an after credits sequence that only makes sense to the die-hard comic geeks? After number three or four come out, we'll wait a couple of years and then announce a pointless reboot to keep the franchise going. If Spiderman can get away with it then so can the Great Lakes Avengers! May I also suggest some spin off adventures featuring the movie's most popular characters? I can see it now - Great Lakes Avengers Origins: Dinah Soar  could feature our favourite pink-skinned dinosaur lady trying to make it in Hollywood, starring in straight to DVD Jurassic Park sequels while fighting crime in her spare time. Genius!

I for one am extremely excited to see what your Great Lakes Avengers film will look like on the big screen so get going peeps! Just remember; to get those razzies you'll need to emulate the very worst the genre has to offer. There's plenty of options out there but if I were you, save time and just watch Elektra. Next week, Film School Friday will be taking a week off but when we come back, we'll be teaching loyal viewers how to bring the dead back to life in a cute PG 13 kind of way, so bring the kids along. They'll love it!

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