One of the few solid bets in Hollywood among all the ebbs-and-flows in acting these days is Ethan Hawke. The guy is a gifted actor and director. From mainstream cinema or the obscure indie film (which tends to be his forte), Hawke is consistently turning in noteworthy performances, many of which have been recognized by the AMPAS types of the world.
And, dude is a Texan, so you know he has class. (Just look at those boots!)
Unfortunately for him, many of his films aren’t considered “box-office hits.” Despite brilliant character development (First Reformed, Born to be Blue) or insightful direction (Seymour or Blaze, which I haven’t seen but is already getting Oscar sniffs). He’s a bit of an enigma in that he can command a screen in big successful films (Gattaca or Training Day, anyone) but he seems to prefer the arthouse stuff where it’s difficult to command a sandwich.
And that’s cool, but something he said about superhero movies recently makes him seem more box-office snob than anything. Or, does he have a point?
In an interview with The Film Stage, Hawke pontificates about many things in his career including discoveries about movies “being lost in the cracks.” Which leads us to this:
Now we have the problem that they tell us Logan is a great movie. Well, it’s a great superhero movie. It still involves people in tights with metal coming out of their hands. It’s not Bresson. It’s not Bergman.
But they talk about it like it is. I went to see Logan cause everyone was like, “This is a great movie” and I was like, “Really? No, this is a fine superhero movie.” There’s a difference but big business doesn’t think there’s a difference. Big business wants you to think that this is a great film because they wanna make money off of it.
So, Logan was fine…for a superhero movie.
Apparently, at least among Hawke’s ilk, superhero movies are the things to make when all those lofty, high-brow roles are taken. CBMs are “big business” and yes, there is a Brinks dump truck full of cash waiting to be unloaded by an actor’s mailbox when one is made.
(Well, most of the time. Apologies to Spawn, the Fantastic 4s, and the latter half of the original Batman and Superman sagas.)
As we discussed previously, Hawke doesn’t often get that dump truck BEEP-BEEP-BEEPING at his crib, so does that mute his opinion? Is it drowning in subjectivity? Or, is there merit among his weeping and gnashing of teeth?
This is Logan!
A $226 million movie that shattered the glass ceiling in a couple of ways for this genre. It brought back the option for an R-rated superhero movie (after Blade paved that trail). Additionally, this was the first superhero movie to land an adapted screenplay nomination at the Oscars, with director James Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green sharing that nod.
In other words, this movie had crossover appeal. The kind that makes even movie snobs pay attention. The kind that even Hawke should have recognized.
That notwithstanding, he does have a point. The nerd community, as well as CBM lovers everywhere, tend to speak in hyperbole when discussing the latest superhero or villain brought to life. Even if it’s Ant-Man and the Wasp-ish.
“It was the best ever.”
“That was the GOAT.”
When it comes down to it, only a handful of comic book movies deserve those kinds of lofty sentiments. (CHEAP PLUG: Something we aim to rectify with the MatrixMeter, and have already done here, here, and here.)
But just because a movie features people “in tights with metal coming out of their hands,” doesn’t mean their acting chops are any less appealing than someone in an indie film that only friends and distant relatives of the actors will see.
Acting is acting. Good is good. And many of us can tell the difference, whether or not some of us want to admit it.
Is Ethan Hawke right? Not completely. Does he has a point? Sure. Is he butt-hurt? Just a skosh. How can he get over it? Maybe Ethan just needs stand on something to look above his elitist vantage point to recognize a good film objectively.
If only someone had a stepladder or something…