‘Kick-Ass’ Underperforms; Various Puns Ensue

Writers covering the movie industry just love coming up with clever headlines like:

“Kick-Ass? Not so much”
“Kick-Ass opens can of weak sauce”
“Box office fails to Kick-Ass”
“Someone’s getting an ass-kick for Kick-Ass”
“Kick-Ass fails to live up to hype, barely pummels”

Okay I may have thrown in a few of those myself, but several are straight out of the headlines. It’s still a little early to deem this movie a failure, but coming in second barely squeaking into first place on opening weekend doesn’t fare well for the comic book adaptation, or fans of comic book films. If this were Vegas we’d all be taking bets on which comic book film adaptation fails big, resulting in the bubble burst of our current any-comic-gets-greenlit environment. So who’s going to be the Heaven’s Gate* of comic book movies? Here are just a few of the contenders!

Iron-Man 2
Strengths: Sequel to hugely successful first film, original cast / creative team returns
Weaknesses: So many tie-ins it makes you nostalgic for Space Jam crossovers
Potential to fail: 5%
I doubt this will be the downfall of the comic book movie genre. If anything, the almost guaranteed success of this film pretty much offsets the lukewarm reception of other Marvel flicks like The Incredible Hulk and Punisher: War Zone.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe
Strengths: Sheer awesomeness radiates from the trailer, potentially great soundtrack
Weakness: Scott who, general animosity towards Canadian heroes
Potential to fail: 30%
Now this is one film that people won’t see coming. Which is exactly why it has the potential to be a runaway hit – or totally fly under the radar, leaving diehard fans content. Either way it will surely break even since it doesn’t have a hugely bloated budget, huge stars with equally bloated paychecks, or egomaniacal writers claiming it as the second coming of cinema to any news outlet that will listen (I’m looking at you, Millar!)

Green Hornet
Strengths: Avant-garde director Michel Gondry at its helm
Weaknesses: Avant-garde director Michel Gondry at its helm
Potential to fail: 50%
I love Michel Gondry as much as the next Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fan. But I’m not sure his do-it-yourself style is a good fit for the cult character’s return to film. I’d love to be proven wrong and see him pull off a quirky film with a heart like he usually delivers, but no one is immune to missing the mark. Another bad sign for anxious fans, the studio is not happy with Gondry’s final cut. Expect delays and possible re-shoots.

Green Lantern
Strengths: A charismatic lead in Ryan Reynolds, recent rise in popularity of the character
Weakness: CGI. And a lot of it.
Potential to fail: 20%
It’s a little early to forecast this one, as the rumors of a fully CGI suit are still just that: rumors. Until promo images are released we won’t know if it’s a weakness or a technological feat. Only time will tell! One thing to give fans hope? DC and Warner Bros don’t half-ass their comic book film ventures. Even their critically panned movies (Superman Returns, Watchmen) still tend to fare well financially, which means they won’t leave the film biz anytime soon. But at this rate, don’t expect a Justice League film anytime in the next decade.

Spider-man Redux
Strengths: A fan favorite, director Mark Webb has proven to be hip with the young ones
Weaknesses: A re-boot? Already? Really. Really? GUH.
Potential for failure: 57%
Too soon, guys. Too soon. Even a good Spider-man re-boot has some biiig shoes to fill with the recent Sam Raimi blockbusters that crushed box office records in the last decade. Anything less than a $200 million opener will be the kiss of death for this franchise, and possibly for other big budget superhero flicks!

There’s no clear frontrunner for the straw-that-breaks-the-box-office’s-back, but there are plenty more big budget comic films in the works with the potential to fail; Captain America: The First Avenger, The Mighty Thor, The Avengers, any Batman with Christian Bale. The bigger they come, the harder they fall. Some may be convinced this beast is “too big to fail” but trust me. There’s always room for another Superman IV: Quest for Peace.

*Heaven’s Gate, perhaps the most famous critical and financial failure put to celluloid, is credited with ending the once hugely popular Western genre. Though the 90’s and 00’s recently saw a return of western films, they are still nowhere near as prevalent as they were previous to the 70’s.