Oh, internet hive mind – must you be so thin-skinned?
“And Wolverine’s an asshat, too!”
David Cronenberg has been promoting his current rumination on post-economic meltdown NYC, “Cosmopolis“, and managed to upset a great many bloggers, forum trolls and click baiters with his off-hand dismissal of “The Dark Knight Rises“, Christopher Nolan and superhero cinema in general:
“But a superhero movie, by definition, you know, it’s comic book. It’s for kids. It’s adolescent in its core. That has always been its appeal, and I think people who are saying, you know, Dark Knight Rises is, you know, supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the f**k they’re talking about.”
Cart upturned, apples everywhere. But he’s got a point. As Danny Bowes’ excellent piece over at the Tor Books blog observes, this isn’t a case of some arthouse know-nothing aesthete critiquing superhero flicks and genre film from a position of arrogance and indifference, it’s one of cinema’s most pre-eminent and skilled navigators of genre convention and subversion making a concise and cogent argument about a significant director and the most lucrative films being made by the major studios today.
I’m a Christopher Nolan fan, and moreover I love his “Batman“ movies, but I wouldn’t make any huge claim for their relevance beyond being entertaining examples of mainstream entertainment with some interesting underpinnings. That’s why I found some of the forum negativity towards “The Avengers” and Marc Webb‘s “The Amazing Spider-Man” somewhat baffling, particularly when it was coming from the self-appointed Nolan Defense Force, for whom their blithely unaware leader’s every bodily emission is a sacred text to be studied and treasured.
At the level that Christopher Nolan, Joss Whedon, Marc Webb and co are working – with major studios, on comic book flicks, with £250 million budgets and all the toys that their tent-pole flicks can command – there’s very little chance that their movies are ever going to be allowed to be anything other than entertaining popcorn flicks with most of the rough edges snipped away. Any opportunity to challenge the assumptions of the audience or make observations about the psyche of the viewer are going to be a very distant second to building a massive thrill ride which gets butts on cinema seats, sells soundtracks on iTunes and gets the truly devoted to buy all the related tie-in products in the eyes of the studio.
Simply put, Cronenberg has always been in a different business to the guys who bet on comic book characters to bring in the bucks and keep their jobs safe. Whilst it might be nice to imagine what he might do with a character like DC’s John Constantine (astute cinephiles reading this blog will doubtless remember the fine work that Cronenberg turned in with his graphic novel adaptation, “A History of Violence”, so it’s not as if he’s so against the artistic form as a whole), I suspect it’s a safe bet that we won’t see him directing that “Guardians of the Galaxy” flick in our collective lifetime.
And, hey – if you think that Cronenberg’s some highfalutin snob who doesn’t have a sense of humour, get your ocular accentuation receptacles around this compilation of kills from “Jason X” (Reader discretion is advised – contains gore and Jason Voorhees smoking fools).
Yes, that is his Cronenberginess getting a right old smoting at the grisly, undead hands of Camp Crystal Lake‘s brightest son. It fair brings a tear to my eye, so it does…