Not all comic book movies are loved or even liked by everyone. Even the ones that seem universally praised by critics and fans. We know that a lot of people flat out loathe Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but there are plenty of people who also despise Captain America: Civil War, believe it or not.
Why bring these two movies up again? Because today we are going to talk about how the reason that anyone hates either of these movies is EXACTLY the same, despite the fact that one is seen as a great triumph, while the other is seen as a colossal disappointment. It's up to YOU which one fits either description.
And that is where we begin our look at the singular reason these comic book movies and so many others are either praised or reviled, with the individual person themselves. The reality of the situation is that when you see a comic book movie and it disappoints you, there is only one person to blame for that disappointment and it's not the director, the producer or the studio itself.
It's YOU. You are to blame for your disappointment. Allow me to elaborate.
When we go to see a comic book movie or any movie for that matter, we walk into that theater with an expectation of what it is we are going to see, even if we claim that we don't have one at all. Expectation is defined as "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future," or "a belief that someone will or should achieve something." Whether you are consciously thinking about it or not, there is an expectation in your mind for what you are going to see when you watch a comic book movie and your level of enjoyment is fully dependent on how much the movie meets or fails to meet that expectation. Make no mistake though, that expectation is not something that the studio or anyone working on the movie is keenly aware of because it's not universal. A lot of people may share the same expectations for a movie, but that doesn't mean everyone does. One person's disappointment is always another person's satisfaction.
So even though the movie may fail to meet your expectations, you are still the one setting them in your mind, consciously or otherwise. Even having "no expectations" for a movie is still a level of expectation that you are setting, ironically. It's easy to point the finger at the director, the screenwriter, the editor, the producer or the studio itself and blame them for your downer mood because part of your expectation is that these people are being paid to entertain you and make you happy. While that is true, they are also not mind readers and have to make something that they believe is appealing to a large amount of people whose minds they can't read. Even if they could, it is literally impossible to make a movie that appeals to everyone's expectations. Again, someone REALLY hates Captain America: Civil War and it has nothing to do with any silly fan rivalry between Marvel and DC.
You might be asking why the burden of disappointment or not falls on us and not the movie makers? Why are we responsible for our own happiness instead of them "doing their job" and making us happy? Simply put, we control whether or not we are happy. No one else is responsible for that, and that goes beyond movies or TV shows. The notion that anyone else is directly in control of our own emotions at any given time is not only ridiculous but also scary, isn't it? I mean, why would you allow someone else to control your feelings like that? Don't YOU want to be the one in control of how you feel about anything?
This is getting a bit deep here, but I'll use myself as an example. I hate Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. It's the first and so far only time out of 15 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that I have left the theater disgusted at what I just saw. I barely laughed at any of the jokes, I wasn't moved during any of the emotional moments and I was even irritated that other people seemed to be enjoying it far more than I was. Admittedly from what I could tell, I was in the extreme minority on that one since most of my IMAX theater appeared to be in a state of joy the whole time during the movie, but nevertheless I was thoroughly disappointed. Was that the fault of writer/director James Gunn, editors Fred Raskin and Craig Wood or executive producer Kevin Feige the head of Marvel Studios? No, it's actually MY fault. I went into that movie with the expectation that it was going to be like the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which was more of a science fiction movie with comedic elements as opposed to a comedy with science fiction elements. They flipped the perspective and filled it with what felt like a metric ton of jokes and I hated that. My personal expectations were not met.
The thing is, I made the choice to go see the movie and have faith that my expectations would be met. I'm not entitled to a refund of my $13.50 because I didn't like it, but that is exactly the kind of mindset that a lot of people are exhibiting when they express their disappointment for these movies. They talk about how badly directors are doing their jobs, or how horribly written scripts are, or how terribly cast a movie is. Everything is the fault of the movie itself and those who worked on it and no responsibility is ever taken by the audience. How is that a logically sound conclusion to make? You take responsibility for your own decisions when you do anything in life, right? Movies are no different whatsoever.
So the reason that people hate Captain America: Civil War is because their own personal expectations weren't met, the exact same reason that people hate BvS. It doesn't matter what those expectations are, whether it's comic accuracy, casting of certain actors in heroic or villainous roles, the amount of humor or seriousness throughout the film, the dialogue itself, the cinematography, the orchestral score or anything else that people use as a complaint about either movie. The bottom line is that the person's expectations are the origin for the hatred, not the choices made by the filmmakers.
Ok, so then where is the accountability from the filmmakers for making choices that don't meet our expectations, you ask? Am I really saying that these studios and those who work for them have no responsibility to make movies that we actually enjoy? No, I am not saying that at all. If you want to hold filmmakers accountable for their choices that you don't agree with, you can decide not to see the movies they make. Plenty of people have made that choice in the wake of both BvS and Captain America: Civil War. If enough people made that same choice and it severely affected the studios, then a change would be made for certain, though there is no guarantee at all that the change made would be one that you specifically wanted because again, these filmmakers can't read your mind. All they can do is tell their version of the story and hope that you like it. If you do, great. If you don't, then they'll try again if enough of you are unhappy about it. The thing is, in both cases of BvS and Civil War, enough people enjoyed both movies that wildly drastic changes have not been made to either the MCU or the DC Extended Universe. In either case, the audience spoke with their dollars and held the filmmakers accountable to their visions, which translated to a combined $2.02 billion for both movies. At the end of the day, your disappointment wasn't shared by enough people to make waves.
Why not? Why are these movies continuing to be made the way you don't want them to be made despite making yourself abundantly clear on social media and blogs that you hate them? Perhaps the fault isn't with other people not agreeing with you, but with your own expectations being unrealistic. Is it possible that I was expecting far too much from Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 and shouldn't have been so hard on it? Especially since I continue to be in a minority of people that hate it? Maybe, but I feel the way that I feel and take responsibility for that every day. The difference between me and a lot of other angry people about these movies is that I don't tell James Gunn that he sucks at his job, because he doesn't. I don't call Kevin Feige the Antichrist because he isn't and I don't consider Disney the root of all evil in this world, because it's not. For the record, several people have said all of those things about Gunn, Feige and Disney, while others have said them about Zack Snyder, Geoff Johns and WB as well.
The expectations that people have in their own heads about these comic book movies are the reason people get so disappointed and upset about what they do and how they are made. They think that it should be done THEIR way and when it isn't, then it's Zack Snyder or The Russos that aren't doing their jobs or understanding the characters. It's Kevin Feige or Geoff Johns that is ruining your childhood with too many jokes or being too serious. It's Marvel Studios or WB that are filled with people who have never read a comic in their life and shouldn't try to make these comic book movies at all. It's never your own expectations being ridiculous, it's always the fault of the studio and the filmmakers, no matter how many other people with more open-minded expectations disagree with you and spend billions to watch those movies while you whine about the direction they have taken.
I like the MCU and I love the DCEU. Period. I think the DCEU does several things better than the MCU does in lot of different ways, but that is MY opinion and I don't consider it right or wrong because it isn't. Neither is what Marvel Studios or WB/DC is doing with their movies. They are both taking very different approaches to their shared universes, and FOX is taking an even more different approach with X-Men and Deadpool than either of the others are with The Avengers and the Justice League, and while I might have favorites to play on the DC side, I do enjoy the other franchises and I don't put the blame on them when they make a movie that I didn't enjoy......because someone else DID enjoy it. Yes, someone out there likes X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men the Last Stand and all three of the Fantastic Four movies. I like both Thor movies, all Iron Man movies and Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as all four DCEU movies. In fact out of the current 32 (soon to be 33) released movies between DCEU, MCU and FOX's X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, there are only six of those movies combined across all of them that I don't like, and in each case it was because my expectations were not met, not because the filmmakers "ruined" them.
Always remember that no matter what, your disappointment is someone else's satisfaction. What is ruined for you is perfect for someone else. When it is all said and done, you have to make the decision on whether or not your own expectations for these comic book movies are going to give you the satisfaction you want, or the disappointment that you want. It's up to you and you alone.