Riddle me this, riddle me that. Who’s afraid of the big, black bat?
Viacom and MTV are crapping their pants, it would seem.
As we fanboys and girls know, this summer is probably the biggest superhero movie season in the history of the genre. With the culmination of Marvel’s cinematic efforts over the past 4 years arriving in a matter of days in the form of The Avengers(Marvel/Paramount), and the final installment of the record-shattering The Dark Knight(DC/Warner) trilogy come July, we certainly have much to look forward to.
But in a recent editorial by Kevin P. Sullivan on MTV.com, the writer proposes a query: Which one is better, and which one should we see of the two?
Now, this is obviously something many of us have pondered lately. The stark contrast of the two films is clear; one being a darker, grittier, conclusion to a critically and financially successful series, the other being the superhero team-up of a lifetime featuring all the characters we’d come to love on the lighter, more fantastic side of the spectrum. But the fact that these movies, on some level, may be competing is nonetheless inescapable. Fans of comics will probably see each, maybe even several times. I know I will. My current nerd-boner over Joss Whedon’s The Avengers will soon give way to a darker, grittier nerd-boner(ew!) once The Dark Knight Rises, spearheaded by Christopher Nolan, looms closer to release.
But general, mainstream audiences, who make the difference in these types of blockbusters’ fates, are the ones who may actually decide that one superhero film is enough for their summer activities. And here we have MTV, owned by media conglomerate Viacom, not-so-subtly suggesting that The Avengers is the movie to see, based on its pretty, bright colors and what they perceive to be lighter fanfare. What’s so wrong with that, you ask? They certainly have a right to their opinion.
Except, Viacom also own Paramount, the studio that is releasing The Avengers.
I call bulls***.
Nowhere in the editorial by Sullivan does he disclose the above information, which is the journalistically ethical way to approach such apparent conflicts of interest. For example, if NBC reports on Universal Studios, NBC will disclose that they and Universal are indeed pieces of the same company, owned by General Electric, and so on. This is to allow audiences to have the proper information to make a more objective decision.
Here’s a quote from Sullivan, at first glance trying to remain fair, but pay close attention to the thought he leaves you with:
When it really comes down to it, does it matter which movie sells more tickets? Both “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Avengers” are going to make a crap load of money; that’s never been a question. But with Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” taking a page out of Nolan’s gritty book, could any shortcomings on the part of “The Dark Knight Rises” prematurely doom Superman?
There’s a rather large assumption there, casting undeserved doubt upon TDKR and next year’s Nolan-produced Superman reboot, Man of Steel. That’s quite a leap in logic. Here’s another:
In theory, each film will provide a basic requirement of timely cinema. “The Dark Knight Rises” may deal more directly with the economic stresses of today, but will ultimately end with a hopeful message. “The Avengers” takes a different approach, fulfilling escapist desires and placing the hope further into the foreground. The overall more optimistic views of “The Avengers” makes it more accessible to a wider audience and therefore more of their money, but let’s not forget that Marvel’s film offers a concept that feels newer than “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Of course, one look at nearly anything MTV does and one realizes that they are not afraid to cater to the lowest common denominator(Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant), all while somehow justifying their use of the “M” in their network’s name, despite any actual focus on “music” for the most part.
The real question is: Why does anyone care what MTV says is the more anticipated and socially-relevant film? In fact, the only “negative” review I’ve found about the Avengers says that the movie offers little to no relevant “message”, while it is very clear that Christopher Nolan has some things to say about society in his movies. Are we expected to turn our brains off and munch popcorn with every superhero film?
But MTV will likely not report on that poll. That would require some degree of responsible journalism. Move over Fox News, the competition for news entrenched with special interest is heating up.
The Avengers hits everywhere May 4. The Dark Knight Rises premieres July 20. We at the Corporate Offices of UTF Worldwide will be standing gleefully in line for both.
For our own review of The Avengers, check out Ciaran’s take. We’ve also gotten some amazing new promotional posters for The Dark Knight Rises, released today.
What’s your view on this? Should MTV add a disclosure to the editorial, or do they have the right to hide their true capitalistic and shady motives? Sound off below!