Another piece about the end of movie stars, this one inspired by the way The Lone Ranger flopped, with an emphasis on images of masculinity.
In July, The Wolverine, helmed by supposed movie star Hugh Jackman, opened to relatively underwhelming figures. 2 Guns, last weekend’s big Mark Wahlberg/Denzel Washington vehicle, underperformed too, but not as epically as The Lone Ranger’s flop in July. That movie featured another supposed movie star, Johnny Depp (Hollywood’s third-most valuable, according to Vulture), and movie-star hopeful Armie Hammer. “Tumbleweeds blew through theaters playing The Lone Ranger over the weekend, calling into question Johnny Depp’s star power,” fretted the Times. This calamity came just one week after Channing Tatum’s White House Down took in a disappointing $25.7 million its opening weekend. “[D]oes he even deserve his A-list status?,” wrote Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan. And summer movie season started with After Earth, an appallingly bad Will Smith star vehicle that failed to connect with audiences, prompting The Independent to wonder, “Is Will Smith’s reign at the summer box office over?”
Why all the performance-anxiety when it comes to male leads? Yes, male movie stars tend to be more bankable than their female counterparts, and so it’s not great for the business as a whole if there are fewer of them. But that doesn’t entirely explain the endless, nervous parsing of what Channing Tatum’s stardom or (non-stardom) means. This isn’t solely a crisis about profits; it’s a cultural identity crisis. We go to the movies to see heroes doing heroic things, unlike the small screen, where the episodic nature of television has given way to the rise of the anti-hero. The emphasis on actors being able to singlehandedly, swaggeringly “open” or “carry” or “rescue” a movie seems like an extension of that wish. And now movie stars, like sports and political figures before them, have let us down. Or maybe not “us,” but more specifically, America’s men. Hollywood movies are made to appeal to a male audience, after all. It’s not so much that women are rejecting Hollywood’s vision of what manhood is; it’s more that American men don’t know who they want to be any more.
“Once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world,” explains Lindelof. “And when you start there, and basically say, I have to construct a MacGuffin based on if they shut off this, or they close this portal, or they deactivate this bomb, or they come up with this cure, it will save the world—you are very limited in terms of how you execute that. And in many ways, you can become a slave to it and, again, I make no excuses, I’m just saying you kind of have to start there. In the old days, it was just as satisfying that all Superman has to do was basically save Lois from this earthquake in California. The stakes in that movie are that the San Andreas Fault line opens up and half of California is going to fall in the ocean. That felt big enough, but there is a sense of bigger, better, faster, seen it before, done that.”
“It sounds sort of hacky and defensive to say, [but it’s] almost inescapable,” he continues. “It’s almost impossible to, for example, not have a final set piece where the fate of the free world is at stake. You basically work your way backward and say, ‘Well, the Avengers aren’t going to save Guam, they’ve got to save the world.’ Did Star Trek Into Darkness need to have a gigantic starship crashing into San Francisco? I’ll never know. But it sure felt like it did.”
Maggie Koerth-Baker of Boing Boing wonders why sharks are considered cuter than seals. Includes pictures of seals VS penguins. But that’s nothing compared to scientifically accurate Duck Tales.
Rich Johnson thinks it’s a great time to be a comic book fan. He credits Image comics largely.
I look at next week’s comics and it’s just something. And, yes, we’re mostly talking Image Comics. Saga#13 and The Walking Dead #113 lead the pack, but there’s also Peter Panzerfaust, East of West, Ghosted, Lost Vegas, Mind The Gap and Savage Dragon too.
But also from Marvel, there’s Infinity #1. IDW has Thunder Agents #1. DC has Batman #23. Dark Horse has new Fabulous Killjoys and new Buffy. And Top Shelf has March.
You know what? I think we are, right now, living in a new Golden Age of American Comics, and a lot of it is Image’s fault.
In a sad and beautiful piece, Andrew Sullivan described his experience euthanizing his dog.