I was having a Doctor Doom itch that needed to be scratched today. Usually when I have these scratches for certain characters I do a bit of research of what movies, video games, or TV shows they've appeared in and then I watch them. It saves me a ton of money rather than driving an hour to my closest comic book store to pick up books I'd probably never read a second time just to scratch that itch. After watching Doom's appearance in the Avenger's: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon I figured I go back and watch his appearance in the Ultimate Spider-man cartoon as well.
Basically Josh Keaton recorded lines for Spider-man's appearance in the show, but someone above decided to have Drake Bell re-record all of his lines. Whether this was made to boost the audience for the Ultimate Spider-man show or to establish continuity is unknown.
Let me go on record saying that as a both a film student and Spectacular Spider-Man fan this was a really scummy move on Marvel's behalf. First of all the creators of the show hired Josh Keaton because in their mind he is the voice they wanted for Spider-man. Not Drake Bell, Josh Keaton. To sacrifice their vision just so you can boost the viewership of another show or establish a continuity that really no longer serves a purpose since the show has been canceled was a jerk move. I don't know how hard the creators tried to fight it, or even if they knew about the change but forcing them to change their vision is never a good thing. They were hired to create a good show to air and so long as they're doing that, they should have the right to do whatever they want with it. In my view, studios should only step in if the show is or might be getting in trouble with copyright laws, or censorship. Replacing an actor at the last minute falls under neither of those categories. So yes, I and many others have a problem with this.
However, I'm not working for Marvel, I wasn't there. For all we know maybe the creators wanted to change the voice actors or maybe the change was done in a way that both parties were satisfied with the end result. I doubt that was the case, but it's possible.
That being out of the way, I must admit I'm left to wonder if comic book fans are getting a little too picky and overly dramatic when it comes to adaptations of superheroes. I've watched both Avenger's: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Ultimate Spider-man and for some reason Ultimate Spider-man is receiving nothing but negative reactions from fans. Although when I did a bit of research I found that most of the critics have given it a "okay" to "positive" rating. So why is it that critics seem to find the shows to be "Okay" but fans of the character act like the show is the work of Satan or the spawn of Hitler?
First of all when the show premiered I stuck around till the episode with Taskmaster, I didn't watch only the first episode and judge it from that. I gave the show a chance. In the end my basic thoughts have been this.....(Feel free to skip my review in order to get to the main debate of this blog, I just feel it helps show people where I'm coming from)....
I've warmed up to Drake Bell as Spider-man already, he's okay. He sounds kinda like a cross between Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Keaton two of my favorite Spider-man voice actors. The voice actors all do great jobs. Maurice LaMarche was awesome as Doctor Doom, probably my favorite Dr. Doom voice actor yet so I gotta give credit to Marvel for finding voices that fit the roles down to a T. Sure there are one or two weak links but most of the voice actors do their job. Clancy Brown as Taskmaster was just awesome.
While I think the forth wall jokes should be left to Deadpool, they don't really have Spider-man in the show "Break" the forth wall. Yes he turns and talks to the audience, so he basically narrates what he's doing..... but he's not making jokes like "This is all written by some guy on his computer" or "Those pesky Olsen Twins" or "Hey where's Sam Raimi when you need him." If I had to describe the way the forth wall is broken it's more....Scott Pilgrim like than anything else. Which while is kinda pointless it does get a few laughs. I'm warming up to this as well.
For every lame joke there is an equally great joke. You can't tell me you didn't laugh or at least smile when the Drawing a mustache on Jameson by squealing the tires on the motorcycle joke came up in the second episode, or what about "Yeah that made me feel better" in the first episode or what about "Doom demands a banana split?" in the third episode..... somethings are just so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh, and I get the feeling that this is what the writers were aiming for.
Animation, really well done.....nuff said.
It's just too fast pace, when it tries to slow down and be serious even for a bit, it just can't be taken seriously. There are so many character lessons in the first three episodes but they're all overshadowed because you're still trying to calm your brain so it can process all the fast paced stuff that it just got finished showing.
It tries to throw too many jokes into the mix. The third episode made this painfully clear. Nick Fury criticizing them for being stupid teenagers could have had some great character developing moments and it does try for a second with the "Whoa" thing, but instead it's ruined just so they could throw in the lame "Lets see me with a jet pack" joke again. The writers need to learn how to balance the humor with the serious if they want to stop this series from sinking.
Remember for every lame joke there is an equally as awesome good joke. Yeah well the lames jokes are really lame....which makes me toss this up to 50/50 on the humor-o-meter. It either has jokes that are cringe-worthy ala "Blast Spidey, win a panda" or jokes that are just awesome like "I'm off to see the wizard." I can't hate the show because it made me laugh a couple of times, but I can't love it because I also rolled my eyes a couple of times.
That's my thoughts on the series. It's harmless entertainment. I'm with the critics who say it's an average okay show. Sure I'd rather watch Young Justice or The Legend of Korra or Spectacular Spider-man but In my eyes it is certainly not the piece of trash everyone is making it out to be. So why do I seem to feel like I'm the only person who thinks this? Well it's got to be one of two possibilities....
1) People Expected and Wanted It To Be Bad - I'm a firm believer that if you expect something to suck, you're going to think it is. If you go into a movie thinking that it's going to be the worse movie ever made then you're obviously going to nit pick and search for the bad things. People may have thought this show was going to suck, so when it finally came out they nit picked it to death. I think people need to go into things with an open mind. The glass is just there, it's not half full or half empty yet. Some might say that being more critical only makes the good movies seem better. If that's the case then how come no one criticizes things like the Deux Ex Machina of the scientist creating a fail safe to the wormhole machine in The Avengers? Even good movies can be nitpicked to death.
2) People Compared It to Spectacular Spider-man - One of the things I've learned in my adaptation class in college was that you shouldn't compare two things even if it's based on the same story or involves the same characters. Different creators mean different things, not to mention different projects have to follow different rules because they're handled by different studios or targeted towards a different audience. It's fine liking one adaptation more than another, but comparisons shouldn't be made between the two mainly because it's unfair. Imagine if the show was a person. Would you like constantly being compared to a successful sibling or a Hollywood celebrity? Is it fair that people would nit-pick you apart because you're not what they consider to be perfect?
Maybe it's both possibilities, maybe they were expecting it to be bad compared it to Spectacular Spider-man. Which is sad that many fans feel the need to hate anything that isn't close to or absolute perfect. Now that the large introduction and some of my personal thoughts are out of the way let's attack the question this introduction has been building up too.....
Are Comic Book Fans Too Picky?
I've certainly seen plenty of cases where fans get upset over the tinniest of changes. People are still complaining about Bane and Catwoman's look in The Dark Knight Rises. Why? Because they don't look exactly like their comic book doppelganger down to a T? Heath Ledger's Joker looks nothing like the Joker of the comics (with the exception of how Lee Bermejo draws him). In fact I remember before The Dark Knight came out a lot of people complained about how the Joker looked saying things like "Oh, he's wearing makeup instead of his skin being bleached? That's stupid" or "He looks like a homeless person, what's up with that?!!" Thankfully they had to eat their own words after they finally saw the film. You think people would learn to not judge a book by it's cover.
Again, another thing I learned in my adaptations class was that directors shouldn't have to be forced to adapt things page by page or make characters look exactly how they look in the books. If people want to read Batman, they can pick up a comic and read Batman. Same goes for any adaptation. We didn't watch Fight Club, we watched David Fincher's Fight Club. Reading the novel, everyone has different thoughts on how Tyler Durden should look. It would be impossible to put all of them into one movie, so when we watch the movie we're not seeing our Tyler Durden we're seeing how David Fincher thinks Tyler Durden should look. Just because comic books have pictures, does that mean directors should sacrifice how they think the character should look? Audiences need to know that they're not watching Batman, they're watching Christopher Nolan or Tim Burton's Batman.
Same goes with the new Spider-man movie, The Amazing Spider-Man. I constantly hear things like "Why should this be made? Why reboot this series so early?" Should it matter? We've seen how Sam Raimi thinks Spider-man should be, now we can see someone else's interpretation. Fans can decide which one they liked more. What's so sad is that I have this feeling that people are going to compare this film to Sam Raimi's films, and if it's not as good then they're going to crucify the film. So like the Ultimate Spider-man show, even if the film is a good film on it's own merits, people are going to complain that it wasn't as good as Sam Raimi's films. Which I feel isn't fair. Again different people, different interpretations.
That being said what if directors take too many liberties with a character? I'm reminded of the film Constantine, they changed up the character so much in the film that it's nothing like his comic book counterpart. Should they be criticized for not being faithful enough that it lost the essence of what made that character great or should it be considered someone else's idea of who that character is and what he should be like? Here's a better question.....Should it matter? I can understand that fans would feel cheated expecting a John Constantine film but getting a Keanu Reeves action film with demons instead. That could be considered false advertising. I wouldn't want to pay money to see a Deadpool film where instead of Deadpool we got some mute with laser eyes and swords coming out of his forearms.....oh wait....
In conclusion, I'd like to thank all of those who actually read this little rant/essay. What do you guys think? Are comic book fans too picky when it comes to adaptations? Should we allow change when it's the directors that make it? or should we not give directors a get out of jail free card? Should we criticize the change based on how faithful it remains to the original source material or should we criticize change based on how large of a change it is?