He Hates: Guardians of the Galaxy

For this episode Alex Daniels returns to discuss an unexpected juggernaut, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Anatole speaks to how this film is an incredible anomaly, elevating a virtually unknown Marvel property into the stratosphere. For him, this achievement marks the film as exceptional in quality and execution. It is proof that superhero movies do not have to rely on embedded cultural figures to please audiences and provide quality entertainment.

Nathan comes into this movie not loathing it, but not loving it either. For him, it is an entertaining affair, but hardly anything more. He and Alex question whether this film’s success was so peculiar to begin with. Perhaps all the puzzle pieces were in place to make it a blockbuster regardless of the property’s obscurity.

This is a discussion worth having with a sequel to this movie coming around the corner this summer. Join us for a look back at this entry into the Marvel canon and take note of the individual elements our hosts and guest bring up. Will director James Gunn return to the well for the next installment, or will he try some further plays out of left field? Wait, maybe those moves were not revolutionary at all? Better listen and decide for yourself.

This is an episode where no two people in the conversation can agree on everything, but often find common ground on a variety of topics. We hope you enjoy it!

He Hates: Thor: The Dark World

For this month’s episode our hosts bring along Anthony Chatfield from the Board Gamers Anonymous podcast for a deep dive into mediocrity and unconventional sequel subtitling with Thor: The Dark World.

The discussion revolves a lot on how boring Nathan found this movie to be, especially its second half. If that doesn’t entice you to listen, what will? In all seriousness though, the guys get into the finer points of a film's craft to understand what makes this movie such a dud, and Anatole lays out why it should not color Nathan's perceptions of the genre as a whole. Also, is it OK to have nine-figure budgets for what are essentially filler films?

Thor: The Dark World carries a heavyweight supporting cast that includes Sir Anthony Hopkins (wait until you get to Nathan’s realization on that one) and Rene Russo, but they are not given much screen time in relation to the younger stars. Is this a missed opportunity, or can the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Kat Dennings do the necessary lifting?

If you are still not sold on the thought of this episode, rest assured. The sheer bafflement this movie causes among the hosts provides some hilarious tangents for them to follow. Director Alan Taylor may of kept this film’s production on the rails, but he has no say in our discussion! It may not be a cinematic milestone, but Thor: The Dark World can at least provide some humorous banter for a bunch of dorks. Maybe that is all you ask of your superhero films. If so, we got the podcast for you right here.

He Hates: Hulk (2003)

This week, Nathan and Anatole tackle that the big-screen debut of Marvel's jolly green giant, Hulk (2003), the superhero movie that remains controversial among fans of Marvel as well as those of star Eric Bana and of course, the movie's Oscar-winning director, Ang Lee.

Hulk is one of those characters on whom the jury is perpetually out as to whether he is filmable. At his purest, the Hulk is the epitome of rage and destruction, a metaphor for science's power to destroy and humanity's constant struggle to control the beast within. In the comics, after Bruce Banner gets accidentally exposed to gamma radiation, he physically transforms into the Hulk whenever he's stressed, both on or against his will. Fittingly, co-creator Stan Lee was heavily inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, since at its core, the story is about a duality at odds with each other.

Ang Lee Hulk 2003

There's also a consensus among academics and fans of the character that the Hulk is a statement against war. Bruce Banner is always okay when left alone. And the Hulk is most peaceful when left alone. It's only when the military inevitably gets involved that the Hulk's destruction scales to far more catastrophic levels, potentially threatening many civilians caught in the crossfire (although the Hulk is at times careful to avoid those casualties, something not even Zack Snyder's Superman can do). 

Starting as a reflection against Cold War anxieties, the character has been used as a sounding board to criticize Vietnam and most recently the Iraq war. 

Given the lofty discussion and high concepts, many have run into the problem of carrying through these ideas while also giving the Hulk something anthropomorphic to punch. And to date, there have been three attempts at varying (and increasing) levels of success, with arguably the most successful being Mark Ruffalo's portrayal in 2012's Marvel's The Avengers

In 2008, Edward Norton also laid down his mark on the character with a grounded take on Bruce Banner while also delivering on the knock-down, drag-out fight that had been until then missing.

Today's episode, then, features the first attempt at bringing the Hulk to the big screen. With an Oscar-winning director and Oscar-nominated star, the talent should've been poised to deliver a successful experiment. Did it work? And most importantly, was Anatole able to convince Nathan of the movie's merits?

In this episode, Nathan and Anatole are also joined by filmmaker Alex Daniels from Reel Creative Media

As always, feel free to let us know what you thought of Ang Lee's Hulk when you first saw it.

He Hates (?): Batman (1989)

For our next episode we are already delivering something a little different—a superhero movie Nathan enjoys, or at least he remembers enjoying. In this episode Anatole and Nathan revisit Tim Burton’s Batman.

There is a lot of hubbub in recent years regarding Batman and his screen portrayals. Whether it’s the palpable nature of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, or the new incarnation provided by Ben Affleck and Zack Snyder, Batman remains a cultural touchstone for better or for worse.

Batman closely resembles other genre franchises such as James Bond or Doctor Who. Fans have an era and an actor they hold dear, proclaiming a period of the character as theirs. These figures come packaged with a sense of ownership and expectation. In part, this is a blessing for those who helm the franchise. A fervent and anticipatory audience awaits the next entry, guaranteeing some return on investment, if only out of sheer curiosity.

 Batman (1989)

Batman (1989)

Yet this intense connection to a property can act as a curse of arrested development. Any deviation from expected tropes and traditions runs the risk of vitriolic backlash. We live in an era where fans no longer write letters to save their fiction, but instead tweet en masse to condemn its caretakers for violating their personal ideal of the hero.

1989’s Batman lives between these poles. Tens of thousands of fans wrote letters expressing dismay at the casting choice of then-comedic actor Michael Keaton. The public knew Keaton from farcical affairs such as 1982’s Night Shift, and many devotees of the bat could not fathom him inhabiting the role of the Dark Knight. Ultimately, the eponymous film (and Keaton) proved worthy. The film was a massive blockbuster, and still serves as a benchmark for superhero movies.

The legacy of 1989’s Batman informs this episode’s discussion. Both hosts reflect on their nostalgia for the film, but also adopt a sharp critical eye to cut through any possible distortion of memory. For this installment, he doesn’t hate it going in, but will that change? Listen, find out, and feel free to comment below!

He Hates: The Avengers

At long last, after many many moons, we are proud to present the very first episode of He Hates Superhero Movies. In this episode, He Hates: The Avengers.

If you don't know who we are or what this podcast is about, here's a quick refresher: Anatole is a tremendous fan of superhero movies. He is a lifetime fan of all things nerd culture, including comic books, science fiction, and video games. 

Nathan is NOT a fan of superhero movies. You may even say he hates them. Especially after 2005, when superhero movies became ubiquitous and inescapable. Nathan is a fan of cinema. He likes the classics, the New Hollywood films of the 1970s, and the timeless blockbusters of the 1980s and 1990s. He remembers a time when not every movie was part of a franchise and a sequel was something rare to get genuinely excited about.

Both Anatole and Nathan, however, are huge movie buffs...except on different sides of the superhero divide. This podcast chronicles Anatole's quest to defend the superhero group of films to Nathan, one movie at a time.

 Marvel's The Avengers

Marvel's The Avengers

In this episode, Anatole and Nathan discuss the movie that kicked the superhero genre into high gear, Marvel's The Avengers. The 2012 blockbuster features Marvel's iconic characters including Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and Hawkeye as they defend New York City (and the rest of the planet) from an alien invasion. 

Join us in our debut episode as Anatole and Nathan argue about the characters, their favorite moments (yes, even Nathan had some!), and what this movie means for the superhero genre. The co-hosts discuss how they felt when they first watched this way back then in theaters the first time and how their opinions changed after revisiting it.

And feel free to let us know how you feel about the Avengers in the comments!