So Independence Day: Resurgence didn’t do so hot in its opening weekend, getting its ass handed to it by a cartoon sequel about a fish with Korsakov’s Syndrome that’s already been out for a week. Does this mean its creator, director Roland Emmerich, is going to jump on the current hot trend, the superhero film?
Not very likely. Emmerich, the director of such serious, reality-based films such as The Patriot (British Redcoats were basically Nazis), 10,000 BC (primitive humans had modern hair-removal technology and lived in stone skyscrapers, just like in The Flintstones) and Anonymous (Shakespeare was a fraud), thinks movies about folks with superpowers and weird outfits are “silly”:
“When you look at my movies it’s always the regular Joe Schmo that’s the unlikely hero. A lot of Marvel movies, they show people in funny suits running around. I don’t like people in capes,” he said. “I find it silly when someone dons a superhero suit and flies. I don’t understand it. I grew up in Germany, that’s probably why.”
For what it’s worth, this isn’t entirely true; at one point after the success of the original Independence Day, Emmerich and his screenwriting/producing partner Dean Devlin were developing The Mark, about a contemporary man who receives mysterious powers from the corpse of a Civil War soldier and must decide whether to use them for good or evil. Will Smith was attached to the project, but it seems to have fizzled out in the late ‘90s.
But Emmerich’s confusion does reflect the difficult position that auteurs of star-centered, ‘90s-style action fare face in a brave new world of shared universes and corporate brands as leads. After trying to prove himself as a “real” filmmaker with Pearl Harbor and The Island, Michael Bay found safe haven in the world of Transformers, which are, for all intent and purposes, Marvel films in everything but name (the core characters and concepts are from the cartoon and comic book, which Marvel made in the ‘80s). If an ID4 three-peat seems unlikely, the only franchise Emmerich has left is Stargate — which now has a very different fanbase from that of the 1994 movie, thanks to the long-running TV franchise, of which Emmerich doesn’t seem very fond either.
Maybe the problem is that Emmerich thinks that, rather than adapting decades-old characters and material from existing comics, superhero movies are ripping him off: “I felt that when I saw some of these Marvel movies or DC movies from Warners. I felt, ‘Oh my God that looks familiar to me. Why is Superman bashing so many buildings?’” Seeing as how he often comes off as someone who’d never saw a movie (or any other form of popular culture) made before Star Wars or Jaws, this is entirely likely.
I suppose that if everything else fails, there’s always Stonewall 2: Okay, There Were Black And Brown People There, And Some Women Too, I Guess.