Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Why Blockbusters Fall Flat. Wolverine and The Lone Ranger


if there is anything flat about Wolverine, it’s Hugh Jackman’s stomach (credit: 20th Centry Fox)

After the whole spring of commercially successful ‘bombasters’ like Man of Steel and Iron Man-3, we witnessed poor performance of several other high-budget blockbusters, among them Wolverine (the lowest grossing film in the X-men franchise so far) and The Lone Ranger, only partially rescued by audiences in non-US markets.

I have to emphasise that I have enjoyed watching these films immensely, they are great and in no way inferior to their successful counterparts, yet certain elements in them limited the “wow” factor and failed to attract broader audiences.

So why did they cripple? And what are these elements I’m referring to? Fellow writers, take notes, this relates to books as well.

  • lack of high stakes

In Wolverine, the main protagonist, Logan, is immortal, yet, a man he rescued during the second world war has found a way to steal Logan’s immortality. It’s a beatiful action film set in Japan, featuring ninja, robots, biotech, a mutant lady played by a voluptouous Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova and the 140 kg of muscles and charisma of Hugh Jackman – what more could you want? Well, turning Logan into a mortal doesn’t rate high in comparison to savng the world as in the Man of Steel flick. If another X-men film is planned, there better be higher stales for the whole mankind.

Now, in the Lone Ranger, it’s about an individual vendetta between the protagonist pair and the antagonists’ gang, the movie still made a decent cash for a Western, but the lack of high-enough stakes made it impossible to really impress us. In fact,  if there are high stakes in the movie – it’s preventing the massacre of native Indians – but here it is only a subplot and its ending is very sad.


Zorro and somewhat worn-out Captain Jack Sparrow in The Lone Ranger (Credit: Disney)

  • the humour issue

Wolverine practicallly lacks any good humour. I spotted like one joke in the whole film. In superhero films balancing humour could be tricky, yet look how well Joss Wheadon pulled it off in The Avengers.

In The Lone Ranger it’s the opposite – way to many corny jokes, not a good thing for a Western. The creators clearly didn’t learn lessons from Wild Wild West. And what’s with this ‘a museum and a little kid’ inserts? They were so distracting. I guess the little kid and the old Indian scenes should have appealed to the family segment of the audience. Oh well.

  • Originality

Okay, in The Lone Ranger Jonny Depp is playing the Jack Sparrow look-alike. Another comic character, the brothel madame played by ‘Marla Singer’ Helena Bonham Carter – how is that different from that Thenardier crook from Les Miserables, the evil witch Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Porter or Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd? They might have even used the same pot of make-up. Lol. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her whole-heartedly. It’s the lack of originality even at the casting level I’m unhappy about. Stop recycling the characters, dudes!


The unparalleled Helena Bonham-Carter and her dark female characters

So, these three factors are, in my opinion,  the main reasons why these films had short legs.

Disagree with me? I wouldn’t take yes for an answer. Only joking, hehe. No, seriously, I want to hear your opinions. Why some blockbusters flop and others fly? Surely, it’s not just about the size of advertising budget?

Imao, it’s all about the script (novel) quality. Get the story right first before spending money on production, etc. If the story sucks, no stars or CGI gimmicks or aggressive marketting would save it. So, read the scripts of great films and see how the masters pulled it off. And enjoy the process.


Your brilliant thoughts