Legendary comics writer Mark Waid slams dark comic book movies

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May 30, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT (Updated)

One of the most prolific writers in modern comics is tired of films taking superheroes to the dark side.

Mark Waid is one of the comics industry's most recognizable and respected figures, thanks to decades of work on everything from The Flash and The Fantastic Four to Superman and Daredevil and his ongoing digital comics portal Thrillbent. He continues to be a fan favorite and Eisner Award-winning writer, and he's never been shy when it comes to talking about the characters that matter to him, from his critique of Man of Steel to his ongoing discussions about the current state of comics. 

Waid's been thinking and talking about superheroes for decades now, and one of his ongoing pet peeves is the continued reliance on dark and gritty re-imaginings of superheroes for the big screen, particularly when it comes to DC Comics superheroes. For Waid, it's still a serious concern he has about the future of superhero movies, and in a new interview at Den of Geek he outlined why. For one thing, he's tired of seeing people with superpowers look so burdened and uncomfortable about having superpowers.

"It just makes me pound my head against the wall, because again... I continue to rail against the idea. Look, certainly your characters -- whether they are superheroes are not -- should have foibles, they should have problems, they should have things that their powers can’t solve. That’s what makes them nuanced, interesting characters. They can have intense motivations. They should have intense motivations to do what they do.

"But this relentless cynicism of, 'Oh, I’m a superhero, what a tortured tragic figure I am.' Bite me, you can fly. Shut up. You know? This is the, 'Oh, my diamond shoes are too tight' problem. (Laughs)

"You’re a superhero. Shut up and enjoy having superpowers. This makes me crazy. This is why the Marvel movies kick DC movies’ asses right and left. Because, I’m not paying $15 for a movie to go watch people being morose about lives that are much more interesting and exciting than mine and they hate them. I’m paying my money to see people sort of revel in doing things that I can’t do."

If you're familiar with Waid's work, you know he's particularly adept among comic-book writers at balancing the fun of being a superhero with the burden of being a superhero, as his runs on things like The Flash and Daredevil prove. He clearly knows how to tell those kinds of stories. So why does he think movies fail at telling such stories? Well, for him, part of the problem is the success of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, not because those movies were bad or unnecessary, but because some studios are hoping to copy their formula.

"I would simplify it to say that, Batman made a ton of money for Warner Bros, and if you are a major motion picture studio, you know what works and you’re not terribly interested in trying another formula when this one makes a billion dollars. So, I understand it. I don’t agree with it, but I understand the rationale of, everybody’s going to have Batman’s origin, because look how much money Batman made us.

"Conversely, look at how badly the Green Lantern did as a movie. Because they tried to make it a little less dark and onerous and tragic and tortured. They didn’t succeed, but that wasn’t the tone of the movie. That and a million other factors. I don’t think the tone was the problem. But if I’m a Warner Bros. executive, I can understand why I would think that the tone would be the problem. In other words, major motion picture studios like Disney or Warner Bros, they know what works for them, so they’re gonna keep doing more of that."

Waid isn't just one of the most prolific comic-book writers of his generation, but also one of the most knowledgeable superhero experts of his generation or any generation (seriously, try to stump him with trivia sometime), so if you're going to listen to anybody in the field of superhero storytelling, he's certainly one of the voices you want to pay the most attention to. Even as he has these complaints, though, Warner Bros. is forging ahead with a superhero universe that's founded on Man of Steel, so Waid could quite possibly be very disappointed by what the studio delivers next. Even if that's the case, though, Waid will likely continue to be one of comics' most outspoken ambassadors, and even if the studios don't listen to him, the rest of us probably should.

(Via Den of Geek)

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