There’s a worrying pattern in Hollywood blockbusting today, and that’s the stupidity of the average blockbuster / event film. We could talk about Prometheus, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War or The Dark Knight Rises of prime examples of when Hollywood thinks you’re basically stupid and won’t mind the screenplay at all…
There are times, when I really, really can forgive what basically is, a stupid plot. There’s even one masterpiece who requires complete suspension of disbelief but tricks the audience with a bigger-than-live villain which simply is always two steps above the heroes and everyone else… I’m talking, of course, about Heath Ledger’s Award winning performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight Rises”.
The Joker’s success in following the scheme till the last minute, could really only be explained if we think he’s a supernatural being, an encarnation of chaos itself, or that he might have some secret superpower that forces probability or his adversaires/victims will into his desires. There was a good summary of the screenplay’s problems, in this video: Everything Wrong with The Dark Knight
But, do you know? We can forgive it all. The performances are excellent, and sell it. Nolan’s directing is amazing, and despite the screenplay flaws, it is still an instant classic and one of the must-see films of the last centuries, for all the show itself, but also because of its juggling of themes that resonate with the audiences, and the strip down of the conflict from good vs evil to a more fascinating, “why are we good or evil?”. Flaws and cheats can be forgiven, in film, if there is a valid, powerful purpouse for that.
Something similar to what happens in another excellent film, Captain America: Civil War. Zemo’s – the main villain – plot just is pure nonsense, depending on two many “ifs”, and it is basically a McGuffin to have all the toys clashing with each other. But Marvel Studios was wise enough to add layers, deeply rooted conflicts that made pure white and pure black disappear and have all the characters choose which kind of grey are they more comfortable with. But let’s be honest, we end thinking the film is awesome thanks to the airport battle.
But these are two examples in which we can – and should – forgive, even if we could wish the writers would have worked a bit harder in finding a less stupid way of reaching to the same situations.
But of course, there’s stupid and then, there’s STUPID. When you derail a potentially great picture with something so blatantly stupid, that you are just showing that you don’t care for your audience’s intelligence. It’s funny that a beloved comic-book character like Quicksilver has to be featured twice on this aspect, for two different films of two different studios. You have him in both “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. In “Age of Ultron” the character bites the dust because of bullets, despite his speed, shown to be faster and deciding NOT to push Hawkeye and a child away from these bullets but stopping right in time to let them kill himself. Yeah, he could be tired, but that’s a stretch… out of all the characters that could die, and in so many ways, that was the most unlikely and was clearly designed to make the audience think, it was Hawkeye – the movie took time to develope an emotional punch on that sense – who would die, and the Quicksilver death was an act of mere shock value, and also avoid conflict with Fox. Years after, it seems clear that Marvel and Fox divided the brothers, Fox got Quicksilver and Marvel kept Scarlet Witch. The resollution of “Age of Ultron”, another plan that didn’t really make that sense, was so puerile that still itches, specially even more if the same SHIELD that resurrected Agent Coulson, doesn’t seem interested in resurrecting someone as valuable and powerful as Quicksilver.
In “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is even worse. After this brilliant scene in which Quicksilver shows potential to stop conflicts and win battles, in the very same second they start… Professor X, Wolverine, Magneto, and genius scientist Beast, decide to NOT take him in his mission to save the world preventing the assasination – with a gun – of Bolivar Trask. Like, what? Way to destroy the second half of your film, Mr. Singer.
Still, to get to the bottom of the barrel… we have to look at the DCverse and the Alienverse. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus are BEYOND STUPID. Check out the linked videos if you don’t believe me. There are more films suffering from this trend, but it is a question of time, when this tide is gonna change and gives us more daring, intelligent screenplays like “The Lego Movie” in which everything that seems to not make sense is finally fixed and explained in the last 20 minutes of film, in a really brilliant and poignant way.
But one could dream. Can’t I?