Monday, September 14, 2015

Rise of the Template Movies

This is a topic I have planned to discuss for months. I don't know if these kind of movies have popular term. I like to call them template movies. Template movies are movies where template and requirements are more important than the story.

Classic examples are Bond movies. They start with action scene followed by animated opening credits. Then we have scene with Moneypenny before Bond meets with M. After meeting with M Bond goes to see Q to get some gadgets and see crazy inventions. After this template give more room for story but we will still get similar things in similar interval. Terms Bond villain, Bond car and Bond girl exists because every movie has similar type of villain, luxury cars and women in similar roles.

Later Bond movies have taken more liberties from Bond template. Skyfall (2012) have drifted so far from the template that it would have been better if it forgot the template. Earlier when you went to see Bond movie you knew what you will get. Just like when you went to fast food chain restaurant.

There have been other template movies through out the years like slasher movies. But Marvel Studios' movie have brought template movies back to main stream again. Fast & Furious movies tried to be different from each others so I would not put all of them as template movies even though they are very similar.

Marvel Studios have taken this concept even further. They have dozen movies in pipeline and every movie is connected to other movies. This has brought requirements to template movies. Bond movies were made one by one. Marvel Studios make several movies and tv shows at same time and everything is loosely connected.

This means Marvel Studios movies have template, few key moments and outcome decided before they decide who will write the movie or who will direct it. Then they bring talented creative people to fill the blanks. So far this has produced at least entertaining movies and few frustrated creative people. Some creative people find constraints of given framework too limiting.

Avengers: Age of Ultron showed why this approach may not work in long run. Avengers is Marvel Studios' flagship property which means it has to connect to almost everything. It started to feel like there was more build up and conclusion to everything else than movie's story.

Joss Whedon's interviews have been interesting. He was forced to have all the connections he didn't want. After finishing the movie he wanted to make something of his own and original. Joss Whedon is not the only creative person who has become frustrated working with Marvel Studios pre-planned templates and requirements.

Ant-Man worked better since it didn't have so much connections. Connections it had felt forced when you stopped to think. They were there to bring Ant-Man to next Captain America movie. So far best Marvel Studios' movie have been Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy which had least build up for upcoming movies. Later movies seem to be more interested of upcoming movies than themselves.

Other studios have tried to copy Marvel's formula with lesser success. They have brought bad things of Marvel Studios' way of making movies. They have forgotten they still have to make good movies. Next year we see what Warner Bros can do with DC's superheroes. They have far reaching plans and several movies in production but we have seen only one movie which wasn't too good. How tight template and requirements they have remains to be seen.

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