In the middle of the hype that is going on around the final installment of Nolan’s Batman which has led to numerous posts about Nolan and his latest movie over the past few days, I can’t help to wonder how this has happened. Every other blogger has done a post about this movie or its director and his work (great reads by all of them) and it is an understatement if I say that this topic has become seemingly popular. Without taking the easy way out and writing a praise for Nolan, I decided to look into the more difficult topic of trying to understand “the hype”.
The Avengers, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man and now The Dark Knight Rises are all summer releases that every other person has heard of.. even those who don’t dwell on things that happen in the movie world. Since I don’t know much about the things that take place in America, where the promotion is probably enormous, I’m creating my opinion more or less based on the situation in the World Wide Web. Things I’ve read, things I’ve seen and all of that in the vast and endless arena of the Internet. To be fair, there is a lot of online promotion and generally the hype is caused by the fans in forums, blogs and on various websites – so my source is rock solid. But before I take a closer look at the hype around the newest Batman, I’m more interested in the three other movies I mentioned.
Two of them are fairly similar at their core and probably appeal to the same type of audience, superhero movies that combine humor with action but they appeared differently in the column of hype, at least from my perspective. Whilst The Amazing Spider-Man did what Nolan did with Batman, re-invented the original story, it wasn’t as big as The Avengers for that very same reason. What if we promote it and people don’t like it? That might have been the question Marvel was asking when they were planning its release after The Avengers, movie that they definitely pushed more than the former. The whole promotion for the group of superheros who were fighting Loki started off with the whole line of superhero movies. Iron Man was a big success, so was the second movie and then came less exciting Thor which was important for the story, just like Captain America was. So in some ways, the hype for The Avengers wasn’t created over night, it took years and years of work to get all the stories leading up to it on to the screens.
Totally different thing happened with Prometheus which was supposed to be amazing because it was the prequel to Alien and Aliens, everybody expected what they had 33 years ago (yes, it was that long ago!) and even better with all that new technology. Hype seemed to be big among the fans of the saga but I assume it wasn’t as big among the general public because the box office didn’t even cross $300 million. Another thing that went wrong for Prometheus was the fact that it ended up being overrated, so it failed (for the most part) because of its advertizing – a false hype was caused around a movie that had much less to offer than we were believed to get.
Here comes the dilemma I was aiming at, the right kind of hype versus the wrong kind. The former, based on this summer, is something that The Avengers managed to achieve with its long list of Hollywood’s finest and with the little help of Joss Whedon, who was far less in the spotlight than for instance Ridley Scott. Therefore the latter is definitely Prometheus which is unfortunate because the feeling I had before the movie was so promising that I actually tried to love the movie during the screening and that is definitely the hype talking right there. In this situation we have two big movies, both coming from a series of previous movies and both having a big name on the director’s seat but with completely different outcomes. One was simply the right hype, advertized as a superhero movie everybody was waiting for – all the heroes together to protect the world. The other was the type of hype a movie should avoid, the kind that makes the movie look so good and so brilliant that the actual movie can’t come even close to its expectations.
But like every other thing in this life, nothing is black and white and because of that, it is hard understand the gray area of the hype. For the most part I think there are also the missing hype and the type that has mixed promotion in various forms. That leads me to the new Spider-Man which for me did not have any kind of big hype, but I think that it might have not needed it in the first place. It had Marvel fans behind it, they had the new and popular stars behind it who also happened to fall in love while filming the movie – it all kind of points to the fact that Spider-Man hyped itself without even trying too hard. And as I wonder about that, I start to believe that Nolan’s final Batman was almost doing the same thing.
The first images of Bane appeared a year ago, at that time the production started and the fans began to wait. What the media did, was basically throw oil into fire by releasing images from the set that revealed something but in some ways, nothing important at all. I can’t even recall if I saw any images of Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the set nor do I remember of knowing who he was actually portraying. Well kept secrets hype things up pretty good! Another thing that hyped Batman’s third movie was definitely its second movie, the one that nobody will forget because of Ledger’s unbelievable performance. Not to mention the success of Inception which again proved that Nolan is not lucky but he does have talent despite his young age (42 is not old among directors). That type of hype is not produced, that just evolves from the body of work of the director into the minds of fans and I believe, it is the most dangerous of hypes there is.
Situation is somewhat similar to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the man behind the camera is thought of as a superhero, a man who makes brilliant movies and who can’t do wrong. I haven’t seen the final Batman yet but to be honest, I’m a bit frightened of its hype because what if the whole Prometheus thing happens again. What if the hype that has emerged over the years around Nolan and his trilogy is bigger than the actual movie and we are left disappointed because the hype is still artificial despite our strong belief of it being real. And as this summer has taught us, the hype can go two ways, either it is going to hype up something that is worth the hype big time or it’s going to hype up something that needs less hype and a reality check. Personally, I think Nolan can’t give us something that is better than The Dark Knight (mostly because the movie had the most memorable villain) but I believe the hype around The Dark Knight Rises makes us believe that he can.
So as far as The Dark Knight Rises goes, it is a mix of everything, the right and the wrong kind with a hint of self-created hype and it is impossible to pinpoint the actual origins of the enthusiasm of the fans, as it is with every movie. The hype is complex but simply unavoidable because no movie can never be without it. Importance is to know that there is no such thing as a movie that is as great as its hype – there are either great movies, good movies or bad movies. The hype is just an illusion of things that is created around those movies to make them look better or just reflect their greatness in order to bring in more money – either way, the hype doesn’t change the movie and the way we perceive it.
“the hype doesn’t change the movie and the way we perceive it”. Sadly I think for many people hype plays a huge part in how they perceive a film. Just as governments can persuade the public a war is worth fighting so can Hollywood convince audiences of a movie’s brilliance before they’ve seen it. Great article, I don’t usually like leaving links in comments but I wrote something similar a while back you might be interested in http://www.themoviewaffler.com/2012/05/dont-drink-kool-aid-how-anticipation.html
Keep up the good work and don’t believe the hype!!!
You are right.. maybe I should have phrased it “shouldn’t change the way we perceive it” but I guess I was talking from my perspective and for me, it most likely doesn’t change it.
Thanks for the comment and I’ll check the link out as well!