Hello there! So I hear that you want to write a review of a new Superhero Film/ TV Show? Well boy have you come to the right place! You see, if you follow our basic tips, then you’ll be able to ignore the blatant irony inherent in complaining about the over-abundance of comic-book adaptations, whilst simultaneously writing another fucking entertainment blog. With this guide, we’ll teach you how to complain that all commercial products are ‘safe’, ‘generic’ and ‘formulaic’, whilst also writing the exact same shit as everyone else on the internet. So what are you waiting for? Dive in and join the ever-growing journalistic cesspit of crushing mediocrity!
Step 1- Legitimise Yourself as a Serious Critic
So the first thing that you’ll want to do, is make the utterly trite observation that we live in a cultural landscape completely dominated by Comic-Books. It’s practically a journalistic obligation at this point. You must begin your latest review of a superhero product, with at least a passing reference to how the genre now has a monopoly over all of entertainment. If you do this, then you’ll make it seem like you are able to maintain some kind of objectivity, so that the reader knows that you’re not just a drooling fanboy who busts a nut every time Marvel release so much as a new title graphic. As well as this, you’ll also come across as more intellectually refined and like you appreciate smaller, more important films (maybe mention that you’ve seen Sing Street or something to hammer this idea home).
If you’re feeling particularly smug, you could say something about how the industry insistence on ‘superhero culture’ is stifling original ideas and indie creativity. I don’t know how we connect these dots exactly, but you could also point out that we are now experiencing the long prophesied ‘Superhero Fatigue’; a phenomenon that punters have conjured (seemingly out of their asses and based on no actual tangible evidence) in order to have a buzz word that makes them sound smart and generates hits. I mean, we get 10 or so Oscar dramas a year, but obviously you wont get any academic points for mentioning that we should have ‘Biopic Fatigue’.
Anyway, I digress. It is imperative that you open your review with an allusion to this as-of-yet unproven ‘Fatigue’.
WARNING: Whatever you do, DO NOT mention the fact that we would often have 50+ musicals a year in the 1930s. That was a cinematic golden age which is above reproach.
I want to stress by the way, that these rules still apply if you’re trying to be a vacuous YouTuber. It doesn’t matter if your annual top 10 is routinely dominated by Blockbusters, or if you are constantly pumping out fanboy trailer reactions to DC movies. You still need to have pretensions towards being an art-house film critic.
Step 2a- Worship at the Alter of the Aggregate.
Now the next step is a little tricky. You need to decide if you are supposed to ‘like’ the subject of your review in the first place. Now, I would discourage using independent thought, or any kind of considered analysis, because what you need to do instead, is figure out what the majority opinion is. For this reason, your first port-of-call should always be a review aggregate. There are several to choose from, but Rotten Tomatoes is the most useful if you’re looking to gauge the popular consensus.
Unless you’re looking to deliberately court controversy for attention-seeking purposes, we recommend that you more-or-less agree with the aggregate score every time. Remember, these scores are calculated according to the wisdom of other sheep- I mean critics- and they’re opinions are inherently better than yours, so it’s best to go with what they say.
Step 2b- Pick Your Favourite Billion Dollar Corporation
Having said that, there is an alternative option for weighing up your verdict on a superhero movie; STUDIO POLITICS! Taking this approach does require a little more effort on your part, but could pay off in the long run, as you can effectively guarantee the allegiance of certain rabid loyalists. For example, if you decide to pitch your tent in the Warner Bros. camp, then you can be assured that all the extremist DC zealots will blindly eat up your every word, as if it somehow validates their own opinion.
Our advice however, would be to hedge your bets and take the Disney side, because then you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. You see, by aligning yourself with the MCU, you will always end up agreeing with the critical consensus (because Marvel have NEVER dropped the ball once), and you’ll also be garnering the approval of the hardcore Disneyites.
If you choose Marvel, you’ll also be forgiven for indulging in certain hyperbolic tendencies. For instance, you’ll be able to give glowing reactions to fairly bland trailers, and laugh at any forced or painful one liners, because Marvel get a pass for that kind of thing now. You’ll even be allowed to write extensively about Bucky Barnes’ hair and escape being labelled as a dribbling moron.
WARNING: Whatever you do, do not take Fox’s side! For completely arbitrary reasons- and in spite of their comparatively consistent track record- no one gives a shit about them anymore!
PS. It may be worth shopping around to see which studio offers the better press exclusives before you make your decision. Desperately leaching off press access, going to red carpet events, interviewing celebrities etc. is a great way to make yourself feel like you have worth.
Step 3- Write a Review
This is probably the least important part of being a critic, because you’ve already done the vital parts (making yourself seem credible and choosing a company to side with). If for some reason, you actually care about the body of your article, then I am afraid that we cannot help you much there. The problem is that you’re going to want to say that these films are all of a vaguely different quality, meaning that we can’t predict exactly what you’ll want to say about them. As well as this, we checked, and unfortunately you cannot copy-and-paste the exact same article every time you want to publish a review. Therefore, the best we can do is offer you some rough templates that should cover the basics for every eventuality. By the way, don’t change the lexicon up too much, we wouldn’t want you to have a unique voice or anything.
- Template 1: ‘∗∗∗∗∗ Best Superhero Movie Ever Made’
You’re going to want to use this one for each successive film that is anywhere above ‘passable’.
”[Insert Studio Name Here] manage to hit yet another home run with [Insert film title here], this time by raising the emotional stakes to unprecedented heights, whilst also managing to keep control over their ever expanding roster of characters. On that subject, it is worth noting that [Insert Tumblr favourite] was absolutely born to play [Insert generic character that could have been played by anyone]. Not only that, but they work brilliantly with the rest of the diverse ensemble cast. By keeping human emotion and interaction at the forefront like this, [Insert title] emerges not just as a compelling superhero movie, but also as a great character-lead drama. [Insert Studio] really pushes the boat out in terms of what this genre can achieve, and touches upon relevant, contemporary issues while they’re at it.
Having said that, perhaps the most exciting things about [Insert title] are the implications that will carry over to [Insert overstuffed cross over event]. After all, this is more than just a trailer for a future instalment. It’s another piece in the intricate puzzle that [Insert studio] have been carefully constructing over the last decade.
Overall, this is an absolutely perfect piece of blockbuster entertainment! [Ignore formulaic Lazer-shooting-into-the-sky-climax and underused villain]”
PRO TIP- If possible, mention Bucky’s hair at least six times.
- Template 2: ‘∗∗∗ The Best Superhero Movie Ever Made’
You’re going to want to use this one when you’ve already given out too many 5s this month. Use the 2 star variant for any film released by Fox, regardless of quality (Those useless pricks!).
‘‘[Insert Director/ Screenwriter] manages to inject a welcome sense of personality into this waning franchise (which we said was great last year, but fuck it, now it sucks). By employing some much needed humour, (because no Superhero film has ever done that before) this makes for a refreshing addition to the comic book canon. There are a few let downs of course, [make reference to Lazer-shooting-into-the-sky climax and underused villain] but overall this marks a confident new direction for [Studio].
- Template 3: ‘∗ Biggest pile of crap I have ever seen‘
You’re going to want to use this one for any film that has a score lower than 40% on RT.
‘Can we not just give the rights of this franchise to [Insert your favourite Billion Dollar Corporation] already? Bombastic, obnoxious, and ultimately headache inducing, [Title] has nothing to say, but is intent on saying it as loudly and crassly as possible. This [Insert budget] mess stinks of studio interference and has the all-too-apparent odour of too many cooks in the kitchen. Based solely on the quality one film, it is apparent that we must finally ask, has the superhero bubble finally burst? [Do not draw attention to the 5 Star Review you wrote last week]’
Step 4- Cover your Back
Whatever stance you took in your stale, deeply boring review, it is important that you have a few safeguards in place, so that you don’t have to think too much in order to defend your article. Accusations of bias/ contrarianism will come flying in thick and fast, so with that in mind, here are a few reliable scapegoats- I mean arguments- to have prepared:
- Stress the Difference of this particular product:
Remember when you bitched and moaned at the beginning of your article about the over-abundance of superhero movies? Well I bet you’re now thinking ‘Hang on, if I give out a 5 star review to [Film], won’t I then be accused of hypocrisy?’ That’s absolutely right you talentless hack!
if you want to legitimise your love for the latest comic book film/show, then you need to somehow make a passing reference to how ‘this one is different’. Perhaps it has a more ‘sophisticated’ or ‘grown up’ tone (usually signified by the fact that it’s a bit violent or has gangsters in it), or maybe it ‘broadens the horizons’ for the respective cinematic universe (Meaning that it either introduces magic, or it moves the action into space). The best one however, is if you can find a way to liken the film to another genre altogether (9 times out of 10, you’ll want to say it’s ‘really a Political Thriller’, because you’re too stuck up to admit that you actually like a superhero film). It doesn’t matter if it’s basically the exact same thing as every other comic book film, just as long as it borrows even the slightest element from another genre.
- Remind Viewers that it’s focused on characters
This one is fairly self explanatory, but if you can make an argument that this particular film is more character-focused than usual, then you should be able to silence most naysayers. Remember this argument inexplicably only works for Disney. Fox might have been developing the same X-Men characters for years upon years, but apparently we hate them now for some reason.
- Pull the Diversity Card
Works especially well for Netflix originals.
- Deflect accusations of Marvel/DC bias by throwing around aggregate scores.
It’s important to note that someone else’s opinion can always be disproved with the use of numerical averages calculated by a website. That is what film criticism is all about.
Step 5- Wallow in the unwarranted glow of smug self-satisfaction.
Hopefully, once you’ve finished writing your review, you’ll be able to distract yourself from the fact that you just spent all day writing the exact same thing as everybody else. You can now pretend that you have in some way contributed meaningfully to the world. Why not celebrate with a protracted period of lonely onanism? You’ve earned it!
My excellent reviews for-
Captain America: Civil War War: https://mostlyrantsblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/review-captain-america-civil-war/
X-Men: Days of Future Past: https://mostlyrantsblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/review-x-men-days-of-future-past/
Guardians of the Galaxy: https://mostlyrantsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/blu-ray-review-guardians-of-the-galaxy/
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: https://mostlyrantsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/blu-ray-review-captain-america-the-winter-solider/