I’m intrigued by Daniel Snyder’s suggestions about how to fix superhero movies (though his condemnation of Hellboy is the rankest heresy). But I don’t really think the bizarre pro-war politics of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300, truly one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time, are a reason for comic book movies to stay away from politics.
It doesn’t make sense for all comic book movies to be political allegories because not all comic book heroes are particularly well-suited for political stories. If I were Britt Reid, I would totally be trying to get out of the newspaper business and into the superhero industry. Super speed is not necessarily conducive to parables about the debt ceiling, or whatever. Similarly, a Rachel McAdams romantic comedy is likely not going to be a terrific vehicle for discussing the pay gap. Believe it or not, I’m totally OK with the idea that all of our entertainment doesn’t have to convey political value. Cotton candy is delicious, and sometimes I just want to watch Hugh Grant look all quizzical on-screen.
But if you want comic book movies to give us things other than origin stories (and I think it’s that lack of narrative diversity that is the biggest problems superhero movies face today), and you think politics should be in that mix, it’s relatively easy not to screw this up. Just pick the heroes whose quests are defined by politicized goals like the inadequacy of social services in Harlem, or a vigilante who is motivated by the idea that you need vast increases in militarized power to maintain order in a fractured city, and make politicized movies about them. And then make some movies about a rich guy with some cool stuff in his basement. Both things can coexist without having to be reconciled.