What’s the difference between excitement and hype? My definition is of excitement is: natural anticipation or enthusiasm that is levered to reality. Hype on the other hand is an artificially high state of excitement that loses all sense of perspective or history.
I saw Deadpool last week. I really enjoyed it. I had a great time watching it. I thought it was a well done movie for an anti-hero. According the internet, seeing Deadpool should have been a life affirming experience. To let social media tell it, seeing Deadpool should have been a near religious experience for me. After seeing Deadpool I should have been mere seconds from Nirvana BUT I was disappointed that I was just very satisfied with my movie experience.
It is a fantastic and infuriating time to be a nerd. We are seeing a really good run on Comic Book and Science Fiction related Film and Television. There is an abundance of quality material in production. The days of expecting a low budget/quality representations of our favorite characters and fictional universes seems to be over. Make no mistake, there was a time when Comic Book movies where specifically and objectively terrible. Whether it was Ben Affeck beating up criminals as Evanescence played in the background…
or Dolph Lundgren playing Dolph Lundgren in The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren.
The comic book movies are now expected to be good. This was not the case before 2002.
Everything coming out has the seems to have the best Writers/Directors/Cast/Crew available. We can now expect these Movies and TV shows to showcase top flight acting and effects. The bar has truly been raised…..therein lies the problem.
We are living in a time where the internet allows us replay Movie Trailers and Teasers for shows on demand. There are thousands of people who build followings reviewing film Trailers. Movies are called classics months before they are released. The excitement builds to a point where any objective consideration regarding the difference between a good experience and a great one slips away. Movies or shows that are heavily anticipated don’t really receive our scrutiny because we never transition from our excitement after we experience the film. The HYPE around movies is creating a culture where EVERY heavily anticipated movie is exempt from critical analysis.
Remember in 2014? Guardians of the Galaxy went from being a nice surprise as a runaway hit to being the BEST comic book movie ever.
I heard it referred to as the “Star Wars of this generation”. From a nerd standpoint, that’s really high praise. Does it match this? Not really. (But in hindsight, Star Wars had flaws too.) It is still a really good movie. It proved that comic book properties outside of the mainstream could be wildly successful if they are made well. To be honest, I thought Captain America: Winter Soldier was a better movie.
How about 2015? Mad Max: Fury Road was billed as the single greatest action movie of all time.
I truly enjoyed the entire movie and really have nothing bad to say about it BUT I enjoyed John Wick more.
The hype surrounding this movies, before and after release, controlled much of the narrative regarding analysis of these films. It was hard to find a person who simply enjoyed these films who wasn’t making a bunch of hyperbolic comparisons in the moment. I’ve already heard that Batman vs Superman will be the best Comic Book movie ever produced. If people are walking into the theater assuming the experience will be legendary, will they be able to admit if the experience falls short of the their expectations? Fandom is a subjective state. Expecting people to honestly rate a spectacle they were over-excited to see in the first place is futile gymnastics.
Prisoners of the Moment…
Good movies connect with us on emotional level. Good filmmakers are able to manipulate the emotions of their intended audience like an musician plays an instrument. When we are excited about a film and that film meets or exceeds expectations, we can easily become prisoners on that moment. In that moment, we lose perspective on times when we felt something similar leaving other movies as that moment rewrites our histories. In that moment, that movie becomes the “Best…” we’ve ever seen. Time seems to counteract the effects of HYPE. As time passes, we remember the other film experiences we’ve had while the most recent experience takes residence alongside the others.