I hate getting political. I really do. I am not a pot stirrer. I believe everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs and moral code… well, within reason. But I didn’t fire the first shot, so get comfy.
Last month, the very expensive and highly anticipated ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ was released, with the expectation that it would kick off a new franchise. Directed by Luc Besson, the movie was based on a French comic strip that Besson had adored as a child and after making the visual masterpiece ‘The Fifth Element’ had been dying to turn into a big budget movie. Which he did.
And it flopped hard.
This film cost $180 million to produce and took in a meager $17M (U.S./Canada) in its opening weekend, landing at #5 before vanishing completely. While the visual style was exceptional, the story was muddled and there were no major stars attached. The trailers, while stunning, didn’t really give much indication as to what this film was actually about. And let’s be honest, outside of ‘Star Wars’, science fiction is a fringe genre right now. While some sci fi movies like ‘Arrival’, ‘Gravity’ and ‘The Martian’ break through, there are several more that vanish without registering at all.
And honestly, though acclaimed for films like ‘The Fifth Element’ and ‘Leon the Professional’, Besson isn’t a well-known commodity in the United States.
It appears that Besson isn’t taking this defeat well. His French comic book adaptation wasn’t well accepted, unlike those featuring American heroes, namely the ultra successful Marvel brand, so he took the time out of his busy schedule of promoting… well, nothing, to diss Marvel and one character in particular.
“But what bothers me most is that it’s always here to show the supremacy of America and how they are great. I mean, which country in the world would have the guts to call a film ‘Captain Brazil?’ or ‘Captain France?’ I mean no one. We would be like so ashamed and say ‘no, no, we can’t do that.’ They can. They call it ‘Captain America’. And everybody thinks it’s normal. So, I’m not here for propaganda, I’m here to tell a story.”
First of all, has Besson even seen the first ‘Captain America’ film? It was set during World War II, a time when American patriotism was most necessary. And Cap was hardly the only America-themed superhero at the time. Even alien Superman and non-American Wonder Woman wore costumes that reflected the American flag as a sign of solidarity. (Meanwhile, France rolled over and surrendered. Jussayin’.)
Well, for one thing, in many countries, the ‘Captain America’ movies are released without the ‘Captain America’ name attached. The first movie was released as simply ‘The First Avenger’, the second as ‘The Winter Soldier’ and the third as ‘Civil War’. If you pay attention, rarely is Chris Evans’ character actually referred to as “Captain America.” He is sometimes called “Captain” or “Cap” or simply “Steve Rogers.”
And by the way, there are Captains Brazil and France in Marvel Comics and even more famously, Captain Britain. Not to mention the long-running Canadian super group Alpha Flight led by heroes known as Guardian and Vindicator whose costumes are closely modeled after the Canadian Maple Leaf flag. There are also teams called the Soviet Super Troopers and Big Hero 6.
Outside of the Marvel Universe, in Russia, there was recently a film released called ‘Guardians: Soviet Union Superheroes’ which featured characters modeled after Russian tropes, such as a character that turns into a large bear and another with a hammer and sickle weapon.
While ‘Valerian’ is mostly criticized for being a big CGI video game disguised as a movie, Besson doesn’t see it that way.
“Totally tired of it. Totally. I mean, it was great ten years ago when we seen the first Spider-Man, Iron Man, and now it’s like number five, six, seven. There’s superheroes working with another superhero, but it’s not the same family. I’m lost.”
“I can’t relate to superheroes. I don’t have superpowers. I don’t have tights.”
Really? That’s your defense?
You make movies full of bizarre aliens with tentacles and other appendages with strange colored skin. But an American dresses in red, white and blue and that blows your mind?! May I remind you that the French flag is also red, white and blue?!
Sorry, didn’t mean to go all FOX News there. But seriously, it sounds like a certain bebe grande is ticked that American comic book movies make billions of dollars, while his obscure French comic strip film enticed exactly no one and this was his one bratty way of lashing out.
Sounds like “Raisins aigres.” (Sour grapes) Bon jour, bebe!