Stuff We Love: Fan filmmaker Patrick H. Willems mashes up superheroes with high-brow cinema

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Aug 2, 2017

What if documentary filmmaker Ken Burns directed Captain America: Civil War? What if a superhero film about The Flash were directed by Ingmar Bergman? What if Sergio Leone took on The Punisher? Filmmaker Patrick H. Willems frequently asks these odd-ball questions. He also answers them with some spot-on videos, mashups of geek culture and high-brow cinema, where the camerawork is as broad as the humor.

Willems’ work is everything I love about good fan films: He gets to the heart of the subject while adding his own unique spin. In his case, he leans on famous directors to get his point across. With each film he makes, it’s clear he has a deep understanding of the language of cinema.

Take "What if Wes Anderson Directed X-Men?” Willems has characters who walk into the frame. Close-ups on pieces of paper. Symmetry. Plenty of absurdity. Anderson’s style is front and center, because Willems put it there.

Willems also produces visual essays about the filmmaking process, such as “How Wonder Woman Uses Color” and “DC Films’ Character Problems.” In one film, “The Matrix: How to Begin a Movie,” he breaks down how we’re introduced to the Wachoskis' world. This video refers to late 1940s film noir, German Expressionism, Brian de Palma, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

In other words, he’s a geeky filmmaker who is geeky about filmmaking. That makes him awesome. Check him out: