August 1st, 2008 08:23 EST
Media Is The Masses: Style and Substance
Every generation of TV and film has its own gestalt, displayed in its visual production aesthetic. This is a result and indicative of both the technology level of the time, and the general social zeitgeist.
TV shows produced in the late 70s to early 80s have a particular visual and quality. So do TV shows made in the late 80s to early 90s. You can tell by looking at how a show looks as to approximately when it was "filmed". They exhibit a distinct visual style or "flavor", reflecting and coinciding with the evolution of society and technology.
This is a major factor in why comic book or superhero movies/TV shows have consistently been poorly done. Well, that, and the studio suits historically and notoriously misunderstanding what is called "genre"-- fantasy and science fiction. The error and problem has only been compounded because of a common conception that "comic book" inherently means "cheesy", goofy or flamboyantly "cinematic" (which they should never be, unless intended for stylistic effect, as with V For Vendetta and Dr. Who).
Primarily, however, the medium has not been ready and able to tell these kinds of stories.
Until recently. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Incredible Hulk remake --and if the trailer is any indication, the forthcoming Watchmen flik, as well-- demonstrate that social and technological elements have sufficiently developed and converged to properly portray these kinds of stories for the motion picture media. The 4400 TV show is another example of a superhero story done right in this medium. The movie Hancock was a good effort, with fleeting and glancing moments of adequacy in this regard, but not quite right.
They prove that we are now capable of making awesome superhero movies.
The time is right for Justice League, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Rising Stars and Supreme Power to cross media from comics to film. Superman and Spiderman both deserve a reboot in the manner of Batman Begins.
A Babylon 5 big screen IMAX movie would totally not go amiss, either.
I`m just saying.
Anyway, The Dark Knight--- THAT is how you make a superhero movie!
Productions like X-Men, Superman Returns, Spiderman and Ironman (plus the Heroes TV show) reveal we have not quite mastered the art, and are still learning. Despite the fact that all of these have been financial and pop-cultural successes, they are failures because they fail to take the material seriously. But--- these are an improvement on what came before, and are at least steps in the right direction. A kind of intermediate and transitional stage.
Story is the most important factor. I`ve said it before and it warrants repeating. Without story, you`ve got nothing. If you can`t tell the story well (ie- logically), then you ought not tell it at all, because you do the story--and the audience-- an injustice. Many amateur productions also neglect this vital maxim. The audience cannot be expected to take these stories or the genre seriously if the creators don`t.
Currently based in Houston Texas, Sean Stubblefield graduated Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Television Production. A philosopher poet, Stubblefield has been writing non-fiction for over 15 years, and has penned eight books to date. His first and second books, Paradox and Afterword are now available at http://www.myspace.com/exastral` target=_new>www.myspace.com/exastral.