Ridley Scott has been on both sides of the popularity meter. He’s responsible for some of the most beloved classics, including THELMA AND LOUISE, GLADIATOR, and BLACK HAWK DOWN. He’s also delivered some that delivered short, like THE COUNSELLOR and EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS. But one thing no one can deny is that he tries to inject a sort of intelligence in all his stories, evident in what many consider his “comeback” with THE MARTIAN.
But there is one genre train that he won’t be jumping on any time soon: Superheroes. A staple of summer blockbusters, the fantastical and action-packed films are hit and miss. For every DEADPOOL and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is a FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. Not designed to be deep or complex, by design they’re meant for audiences to grab the biggest tub of popcorn and forget life in a haze of super powers and explosions. With a couple of the superhero films not doing as well as they should, this year was full of conversations about genre fatigue and overload.
Speaking to Digital Spy, the director and producer spoke about his opportunities in the genre and ultimately how he feels about the films the onslaught of superhero films:
“Superhero movies are not my kind of thing – that’s why I’ve never really done one,” he said.”[I’ve been asked] several times, but I can’t believe in the thin, gossamer tight-rope of the non-reality of the situation of the superhero. I’ve done that kind of movie – Blade Runner really is a comic strip when you think about it, it’s a dark story told in an unreal world. You could almost put Batman or Superman in that world, that atmosphere, except I’d have a f**king good story, as opposed to no story!“
Not only did he hit on the topic of superhero films, but on modern cinema in general:
“Cinema mainly is pretty bad.”
It’s an argument you’ll hear any group of film lovers engage in. Many will maintain that a film’s job is to take you out of real life for a couple of hours so they can forget their problems, and others propose that films are meant to make audiences think, to engage their sense and sensibilities on a level they normally wouldn’t be taken to in everyday life. In reality, it’s probably somewhere in between.
On either side of the discussion, people scream for more original stories and things they hadn’t seen before. Talk to anyone and they’ll spout off the same thing, that they’re tired of remakes, reboots, and sequels. They’re fed up with the safe route studios take with built in audiences. But numbers tell a different story. Most original films’ box office numbers pale in comparison to the very rehashes audiences complain about. The moral of that story is: go SEE original films so studios will make more.
In the end, Scott may be right, cinema might be in bad shape. But with another year of record box office sales, someone is going to see those movies. It’s going to be up to filmmakers like Scott to counterbalance mindless storytelling with their own styles.
Ridley Scott’s upcoming sci-fi horror ALIEN: COVENANT on May 19th, 2017, and BLADE RUNNER: 2049, for which he’s serving as producer, on October 6th, 2017.