Truthfully when I was younger I was sort of a dick, and a bit of a hypocrite. I would spend my money to go see my favorite properties re-created on the silver screen only to tear them down later in conversation or a scathing review on the internet.
There were more things I publicly announced I didn’t like than what I did. The thing is deep down, what everyone else loved, I loved myself. I was trying to be counter cultural, I was a punk teenager with an attitude.
Now, nearing my 30s, I have no problem admitting that I like something. There doesn’t have to be an intellectual component involved at all. I’ll admit that I was thoroughly entertained by Man of Steel (Batman v. Superman not so much.)
Despite my lack of staunchness in my older age when it comes to movie properties I still can find lots to be annoyed by. Most in particular bad property tie-ins and shameless merchandising. When it is good, I love it, give me more. When it is bad, it leaves a horrible taste in my mouth, one that can only be compared to salt-n’-vinegar chips and vomit.
Marvel is a company that I would say is doing it right. They have some pretty stellar television shows, and prominently feature characters of interest from the movies in their own comics i.e. Deadpool, Rocket Raccoon, and more.
That isn’t to say Marvel hasn’t had a few marketing turds, it’s just they have had more successes than failures for me to notice.
But when something sucks, it sucks and there is not enough ribbon and wrapping paper in this world to make it presentable. In fact, sometimes I find that merchandising can do more damage to a brand then good.
Take Green Lantern for example. Green Lantern the movie, as all nerds on the internet know, was more hot garbage than a landfill could hold. I remember watching that movie and turning it off almost immediately after the opening credits.
It was a bummer that the movie was so bad, because mainly the comics for the last several years had been amazing. Ever since Geoff Johns took over that title it had become pure magic. Starting first with the re-birth of Hal Jordan, then the Sinestro Corps War, and etc.
The movie was a doomed ship almost from the beginning, but that wasn’t to say the comics would be that bad. However, in order to merchandise the hell out of the movie, DC Comics re-covered one of Geoff Johns older story arcs with Ryan Reynolds’ face on it.
Sure, Reynolds is a comic book nerd darling now thanks to Deadpool, but at that moment in time I was thinking, “I wish this ass clown would go back to Two Guys and a Girl, and just stop ruining things I love.”
Back when Borders Books was a thing, I saw the re-covered Green Lantern trade paperback with Geoff John’s name prominently featured on it. DC Comics was being tricky though. I almost purchased the trade paperback based on the strength of John’s name alone. Flipping through the book though I saw it was a story I’d already read.
Stuff like this annoys me. It annoys me that companies try to sell you stuff you may already have, or because they think you are some sort of gullible rube.
I get capitalism, this is the world we live in, and a company is going to want to make money off of something they’ve invested in. Incentive (i.e. money) is the spark that creates innovation. That isn’t to say that I can’t be perturbed at times when I feel like my demographic is being deliberately targeted in a misleading way.
Recently, I wrote a review for Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties. It was a graphic novel interpretation of an older short story. There is nothing wrong with this. The creator has every right to do what they wish with the material they have created. Overall, the graphic novel was o.k.
What upset me though is that it wasn’t really anything I could think, as a fan of the author, I was craving. An American Gods T.V. series I can get on board with, but this throwaway pamphlet not so much.
Then I began reading the author’s bio at the end of the graphic novel. In it, it said that there was a movie coming out based on the material. I felt like it was sort of deceitful.
To me it was early marketing and merchandising. It was a product that no one really needed, and up until that point probably wanted. This stealth marketing just seems crummy to me. I’ll probably see the movie, but I hate that I’m being targeted before any of the previews have even come out.
As much as I can remember there was no mention of a movie on the cover. So using my very limited powers of deduction, I can only guess this is an attempt to build a familiarity with the product ahead of the scheduled movie.
The thing is, when companies and creators act deceptive towards their core audience and fans, they run the risk of losing a smaller but significant number of people. This shameless appeal to consumer culture can make it an uphill battle to get back in the good graces of the people that used to love them.
People aren’t rational, they don’t rate things on artistic merit or giving it the good ol’ college try. They remember being slighted. Being slighted taints an experience, it could come in the form of a bad review or someone refusing to go see the next movie or movies in a franchise.