“Has Hollywood Gone Too Dark?”
by Kevin Morrison
Many Movies today go for the “dark and gritty” look and feel, particularly superhero and action movies. This has become a common tone and style ever since films like Batman Begins and District 9 were released. While those films are brilliant, there is no possible way anyone can duplicate them. However, that doesn’t stop filmmakers from trying. Through this belief, we have received a whole lot of darker, broody films, including the latest Spider-Man reboot, Skyfall, and Man of Steel. What directors and screenwriters seem to be forgetting is that “dark” does not mean better drama or a better film. Especially in today’s world, I think that we need things that are more bright and uplifting. There are ways to do it and incorporate these ideas into a great story.
Take a look at Man of Steel. Regardless of how you felt about that movie, that was a Superman movie that tried to be dark, gritty, and very moody, which brought a somewhat sad and not-idealistic vibe.
Now, think about the problems and horrors America and the world have been through in the past year alone.
I believe that people today would have wanted a movie more like an updated Donner Superman. It probably would have been better to have a lighter, uplifting Man of Steel movie made instead of a dark and depressing one. With today’s problems, people need something to look up to. Seeing Superman out there doing his thing is an inspiration to us. It lets us know that we can get past our problems and that there are people out there looking out for us. But the way Man of Steel handles it, through trying to create a mortal being on screen, brooding about his own problems more than the rest of the world’s problems, makes it harder for the film to come off anything other than that.
Every now and again, a darker film is needed and can make for a fantastic film (Dark Knight, anyone?). But when we consistently see films like Man of Steel or Elysium or World War Z, it just reinforces the dark places we sometimes live in instead of escaping from them or helping us move past them. And in the end, that is what great film is supposed to do. Superheroes and action stars are characters that inspire us to make our worlds better and brighter for the present and future. But when you make them all dark and depressing characters that might not be able to save the world, it makes the present and future feel dark and depressing — with no way to get past that feeling.
Thankfully, we do get movies like The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Moonrise Kingdom. These have great drama and stories to them while still being uplifting and inspiring to myself and others out there. While these films do get recognized as good movies, they don’t seem to inspire other filmmakers very much. I mean, when was the last time you saw a straight-up fantasy movie that wasn’t trying to be dark and real for the teenage crowd?
The next time they decide to bring Superman to the screen (and fighting Batman, I guess), they really should make him a brighter character to strive towards. Instead of “End of the World” movies, try futures that could be interesting and slightly comedic (imagine a movie set in 2015 from Back to the Future Part II!). You can still tell a fantastic story with great drama and have that uplifting feel that can inspire anyone that watches. Captain America, Iron Man, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey did it perfectly. If more films were inspired by them, we could get a good balance of bright films and dark films, all while making great movies. If someone could back away from peer pressure and inspire the world today the way Richard Donner did with his Superman movie back in 1978, then that would really show the true power of film.