Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 by Angie Han
Any property with a devoted following also typically has a very vocal following. When fans aren’t convinced a superhero movie is doing justice to the source material — or a TV show is headed in the right direction, or a reboot gets the old characters quite right — they’ll say so, loudly and repeatedly. Whether anyone is actually listening, though, is another question.
David Goyer, for one, says he doesn’t necessarily find it worthwhile to listen to “fan chatter.” In fact, the Man of Steel scribe thinks studios and networks stumble by paying too much attention to what fans think they want. Hit the jump to read his comments.
Chatting with Spinoff Online, Goyer explained why he doesn’t believe in putting too much stock in “Internet chatter.”
[...] You’re dealing with an incredibly vocal but incredibly tiny sort of [group]. That’s a mistake that I think a lot of networks and movie studios make, is sort of listening too much to [them]. I mean, it’s important to listen to the fan chatter but you’re really talking about a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of your audience that may not be representative of what your mainstream audience actually thinks or feels.
I think it’s helpful, but at the same time, it’s also, and I’m paraphrasing Steve Jobs, it’s like you don’t give the audience or the consumer what they want, you give them what they don’t even know they want. I mean, being involved in some of these comic book movies and stuff like that, people say, well, this is what they should do. And trust me, if we had just done exactly that I don’t think the audiences would have been completely happy. I mean that’s not to say that filmmakers can’t misfire, but if you try to just do what you think the fan community wants you’ll drive yourself crazy and you won’t actually write anything. So it’s good to have that tension, but I think also some creators pay attention to it too much.
All that said, Goyer seems aware of the responsibility he has to fans when dealing with cultural icons like Superman and Batman.
[I]t’s different when you’re dealing with something that has become a cultural touchstone like a Batman or Star Trek. And I think when you’re dealing with something like that that has been a cultural touchstone for decades you do have a responsibility to at least be aware of what the weight of all those decades of kind of fan reaction have been. And so Chris Nolan and I absolutely had discussions about that with regards to Superman or Batman and where he exists in the public consciousness and whether or not this was aligned with that or a betrayal of that or not. [...] I mean, I will say that when you’re dealing with something that is a cultural touchstone I always think it’s important to look at what are the elements or themes that are the most sticky, that bubble to the surface again and again over the decades. And those are probably the ones you should pay attention to.
On the one hand, fans are the ones these movies are for. They’re the ones who hype the project months or years in advance, they’re the ones who line up to see it at midnight, they’re the ones who drag their loved ones along, they’re the ones who shell out extra for the special edition Blu-rays. And they’re the ones who give the project so much money it earns a sequel. Studios and filmmakers would be dumb to dismiss their feedback completely.
But on the other, Goyer’s right that there is such a thing as trying too hard to please fans. There’s literally no way to make a movie that will please each and every hardcore devotee with a Twitter account. At some point, filmmakers just have to tune out the noise and trust their gut.
The best-case scenario is when a studio is able to find a filmmaking team that really gets the property in question — someone who’s enough of a fan to know exactly what fans want (or, more ambitiously, “don’t even know they want”), and who has the goods to deliver it. Let’s hope Chris Terrio is that guy for Goyer’s upcoming Batman vs. Superman.