Once again, a fellow contributor has got me thinking. Avi Green’s article on the lack of romance in modern superhero movies really struck a chord with me.
I’ve noticed for a while that contemporary movies in general have fallen back on lazy tropes and politically correct conventions, but after reading Green’s article I wondered if there was something more going on.
On the one hand, the lack of traditional romance in current movies could have something to do with inept and/or inexperienced script writers. Romance was a huge blind spot for Joss Whedon and people tend to write what they know.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if the current cultural moment is a factor. The article Avi Green cites in his post is basically trying to put a positive spin on Captain Marvel being a cat lady.
To be sure, contemporary superhero productions do contain some romantic elements. These are quite prevalent in television adaptations since there is more time for character development and also less money for conspicuous special effects. After all, one can only level mid-town Metropolis so many times before it becomes tedious.
Contra Mr. Green, there are some cinematic romantic relationships out there. Both Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy have them.
But those are storylines rather than the central plot. In fact, when was the last time a superhero move featured an actual love theme?
There’s a lot that modern feminists would find problems with the original Superman movie. The power imbalance naturally makes the relationship unequal. Does Superman ever get affirmative consent?
Adding insult to injury, the Reeve/Kidder romance plays to the traditional fantasies of men and women, with the strong man taking the role of sweeping the beautiful woman off her feet. It’s so…hetero-cis-everything!
This sort of thing is verboten in the #MeToo era. This is because love stories also requires vulnerability, which looks dangerously close to weakness and Empowered Women are never weak. In fact, Truly Empowered Women deeply resent men who express interest in them.
Still, this war on human nature is pretty recent. The 1989 Batman also had a love theme featured in Prince’s iconic soundtrack album. The album as whole sold like crazy, holding the number one slot for six weeks. His duet with Sheena Easton was subsequently released as a single and reached the mid-30s of the hot 100.
I think it’s held up pretty well.
Heck, even terrible superhero films could have a solid love theme.
While most people have tried to pretend that Batman Forever never actually happened, the closing credits used Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose.” Interestingly, the song was first released the year before but failed to catch on. It’s inclusion in the soundtrack sent it to the top of the charts. So naturally, a music video followed.
One might counter these examples by pointing out that movie soundtracks in general have stagnated. For some reason Hans Zimmer continues to find work despite that fact that he has only a single theme that he plays at ear-splitting decibels.
But that doesn’t explain how Hollywood could crank the hype machine to epic levels to celebrate the re-re-re-remake of A Star is Born. Seriously, this corny love story was dated in Judy Garland’s day. Trust me, writing romance isn’t all that difficult.
If the movie industry can manage to make Lady Gaga appear normal, they can surely figure out a way to work some traditional romance into the Marvel/DC assembly line.