Has Hollywood run out heroes? Who will be the next James Bond or Luke Skywalker?
- Credit: PA
Hollywood loves a charismatic action hero, someone who looks good in a fight and can deliver a smart quip. But, 2019 looks to be a year of major change for the Hollywood blockbuster but will it be a change for the better?
Hollywood loves a hero. An entire multi-billion dollar industry has been built on the notion of creating larger-than-life characters performing feats of derring-do for our entertainment from the sword-swishing antics of Douglas Fairbanks, to the gun-wielding growl of John Wayne, to the special-effects filled worlds of Star Wars and Star Trek, Hollywood loves a hero and in latter years, thanks to actors like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence and Sigourney Weaver: a heroine.
So can Hollywood really be running out of heroes? You wouldn't think so, but, this year, as three major franchises come to an end, there is certainly going to be a change in the faces and the characters we are going to be seeing on screen.
In turns out that 2019, is going to be quite a pivotal year for Hollywood blockbusters and the people who make these top-grossing movies. This year Daniel Craig will be returning his licence to kill, the saga of the Skywalker clan finally comes to an end in the Star Wars story and this year sees the last Marvel superhero movies in the current 'phase three' era of the Marvel Universe. Add to that the fact that we are unlikely to see another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, then all the so-called 'tent-poles' of the traditional Hollywood blockbuster season will be different from here-on-in.
Hollywood has grown fat and rich on supplying familiar movies, featuring much-loved actors in iconic roles in a series of increasingly complex and convoluted sequels. In the Marvel Universe franchise I think I have counted cross-over appearances of characters like Iron Man, Thor. Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow in 26 movies in under 10 years. That's a huge commitment for both actor and audience alike.
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Johnny Depp has played Captain Jack Sparrow in five Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Daniel Craig has played James Bond in what will be five Bond films and there have been nine 'canon' Star Wars movies with an additional two approved spin-offs and a Clone Wars animated film. Hollywood has supplied a lot of product and theoretically that could all be coming to an end this year.
Except it won't. Hollywood is loathe to kill any Golden Goose that keeps laying even though it should in order to preserve the integrity of the stories it tells.
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Sequels are nothing new. You just have to look at Hollywood to see endless Tarzan movies, or The Thin Man movies, the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Road To... movies but, in the modern age, sequels have become the driving force rather than an additional feature of the weekly movie menu.
So what does the future hold for future film fans? Will The Force still be strong in the Star Wars universe, will Iron Man avoid getting rusty and will James Bond live to fight another day? I would say it seems likely but there will be changes.
In a recent interview director Danny Boyle confirmed that the reason he walked off the current Bond film was because of 'creative differences'. When pushed for further information he indicated that executive producer Daniel Craig wanted Boyle to kill off Bond. Boyle refused: saying: "You can't kill off Bond" and he left the film. Whether new director Cary Joji Fukunaga is going to kill off Bond is anyone's guess but the fact that they are no longer calling Shatterhand suggests that there has been some rewriting of the script since Boyle's departure.
Bond 25, as the film is currently called, will be Daniel Craig's final film as Bond making him the second oldest actor to play the role after Roger Moore. Moore shot A View To A Kill when he was 57, Craig is currently 51. Does he want to be the last actor to play the iconic spy or is he preparing the ground for a Dr Who-style gender transformation, clearing the way for Jane Bond?
It's not so far-fetched. When Craig was making his mind up whether to do another Bond after the critical failure of Spectre, the internet was full of suggestions for a female replacement. Former X-Files star and West End fixture Gillian Anderson even went as far as mocking up a few impressive-looking posters featuring herself as 007.
This summer Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home completes the current round of Marvel superhero movies. This Christmas the current Star Wars saga also comes to a close. Will this be the end of things? Of course not. But, things will be different.
The current actors will be free to go off and do something different - start to flex their acting muscles once more - familiar characters will gain new faces as roles are recast and I feel that the nature of the films may change.
Over the past ten years spectacle and special effects have become far more important than the story. The look of the movie more worried over than the dialogue. Just compare the Christopher Nolan Batman movies to the current run of Avengers films or the original X-Men movies with Ian McKellen to the rebooted new films with James McAvoy and you see the difference straight away.
The reason for this obsession with explosions, fantasy chase sequences or super-powered battle scenes rather than dialogue driven character development is because a vast proportion of the money made from Hollywood blockbusters is now made from Far Eastern countries where English is not the first language.
Explosions are the same in any language, so expect to see us return to the visual storytelling style of silent movies but with a really rockin' soundtrack.
Disney have announced that the next Marvel film won't be released until 2020 - at the earliest - and there won't be another new Star Wars film until 2021. Although the Pirates of the Caribbean do appear to have been sunk without trace, Indiana Jones is alive and well and has a new film coming at some point (with or without Harrison Ford?) and Disney have announced four new Avatar films which will be hitting out screens between 2022 and 2027.
If you ever wanted a demonstration of spectacle over storytelling Avatar's CGI wonderland is the perfect illustration. Who needs heroes when you can have blue aliens?