Posted on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 by Jacob Hall
Fandom is a group of people united by a shared passion. They all love something enough to follow it, to memorize it, to criticize it, and to get genuinely angry when it lets them down. Fans tend to feel a smidgen of ownership over the movie or TV show or book series that has appropriated so much of their time. In other words, fans tend to overreact. A lot.
And can you blame them? After all, you surely know the feeling. You know what it’s like to watch from outside the bubble as something you love is put through the wringer by creatives who have no idea what the hell they’re doing. When you’re not in the room, when you don’t know the reasoning for a certain casting choice or a certain creative decision, it can be nerve-wracking. What are they doing to the thing that you love?
However, not ever knee-jerk fan reaction has been accurate. Movie fans have recoiled against some truly great ideas and they have recoiled against aspects of films that, in the end, simply didn’t matter. You may very well remember these movie fan controversies. You may have tried to do the wise thing and forget these controversies. As these examples show, sometimes movie fans are the absolute last people you actually want making decisions in the moviemaking process.
Black Leather Mutants
7 The Film: X-Men (2000)
The Controversy: The X-Men, the comic book team whose iconic outfits were defined by their color and variety, underwent a fashion makeover for their first big screen outing. Gone were the outrageous costumes that made these mutant superheroes look like Marvel’s most badass gay pride parade. In their place were a bunch of generic leather jumpsuits that made every hero look identical to one another. X-Men even featured a joke about whether or not Wolverine would prefer to wear yellow spandex, which feels like a deliberate jab in fandom’s eye.
What Happened: It turns out that regular folks, the people who actually decide whether or not a movie is a hit, didn’t care about what the X-Men wore. The black leather outfits have stuck around for the rest of the series so far and while fans may grumble in internet forums, each film has been a hit. Early images from the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse suggest that a few classic costumes may put in an appearance, but the fact that an alternate ending to The Wolverine where Hugh Jackman‘s near-invincible mutant receives his classic yellow costume was cut suggests that those at the helm of this franchise aren’t in a hurry to put theses characters in garish blue and yellow quite yet. It’s kind of amazing how quickly everyone just accepted that this is just what the X-Men wear now.
Beetlejuice as Batman?
The Film: Batman (1989)
The Controversy: The internet didn’t really exist in its current form when director Tim Burton cast Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in Batman. So rather than complain on Twitter, fans had to make themselves known the old-fashioned way: they wrote 50,000 letters to Warner Bros., demanding that someone else be cast in the part. Batman co-creator Bob Kane, screenwriter Sam Hamm, and producer Michael E. Uslan were also skeptical, pushing back against Burton’s decision to cast his Beetlejuice collaborator as the Dark Knight.
What Happened: And then everyone actually saw Batman, saw how the film utilizes Keaton’s talents, and got over it real quick. Honestly, it makes sense that fandom would be nervous about this one. Prior to putting on the cape and cowl, Keaton was primarily known as a comedic actor. The thought of Mr. Mom protecting Gotham City from the Joker does sound laughable. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that Keaton is a national treasure and one of the most reliable and versatile actors out there. Burton knew this before the fans did and acted accordingly.