The Future of Superhero Movies in Bollywood

A look into the box office charts will tell you what has been the impact of superhero movies lately. Whether you are an eight year old kid or a twenty two year old kid like me, somehow these movies reserve a special place in your heart. A part of this comes from the fact that these movies allow the viewers to dive into the sea of possibilities about what to expect next from our superhero. Speaking of possibilities how much of it is possible to overthrow marvel with a very own Indian superhero movie.

The answer is that it isn’t! At least not in the way you think. This is not a criticism of the abilities of Bollywood but it is simply how things work. It was in 2008 that the first MCU movie Iron Man came out and then 22 more followed. Now Marvel continues to make history as each of its movie promise to be a blockbuster. One of the main reason superhero movies don’t catch interest of the Indian filmmakers is that the best is already in the business aka Marvel. It is inevitable that any effort to establish a superhero would have direct comparisons to Marvel. This is the story so far. DC faces a lot of criticism nowadays for not being able to compete with Marvel. But story would have been different if Marvel movies wouldn’t have existed. Marvel simply raised the bar and now every new effort to make a superhero movie crumbles when compared to Marvel. The lesson out of this is simple: Don’t try to imitate Marvel, reinvent yourself.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

With the release of Joker DC could now finally say that it has something in its closet that could have its own fan following and could compete with Marvel. Also, this new attempt is closer to Christopher Nolan’s The Batman Trilogy than Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The Batman Trilogy and now Joker have a separate fan following and it is something different than how marvel movies go. Back in Bollywood this is the similar reason why superhero movies here are somewhat hard to digest. You can’t just put Spiderman into the streets of India and hope it creates the same magic. The point is that an Indian superhero movie would have you bored if you are a marvel fan. Also, it would be hard to pull off with no criticism being made because again the comparison would be inevitable. So, the key would be to reinvent yourself the same way Joker did. Joker feels authentic because it creates a picture of the reality we are facing today. Similarly we want our Indian superhero to be affected by the problems we face every day in this country. And it should be crafted around the elements we find in our country.

Can you name a few of Black Widow’s power? Can you imagine Hawkeye leading the fight against Thanos physically? They can’t. Even the most die-hard fans of the two won’t bother to argue. But still they have a large fan base. The secret to their being likable is because of their well-crafted characters. The creators respect their limitations and use it wisely on screen. The limitations of the hero are what make it likable. It’s his actions more than their ability is what makes him a hero. What is more important to notice is that the makers haven’t tried to explore their powers but rather have focused on making an emotional connection with the audience. Even Iron Man who continues to be directly involved in combat with more powerful villains does in terms of advance in the design of its suit which is a result of his growing experience. In fact making a character with too little weakness can backfire as then the character won’t have enough challenges. This was one of the main reasons why Krrish 3 got mixed reactions. Koi Mil Gaya was a great start to the franchise, by the end of Krrish the protagonist was still a human. But with Krrish 3 the protagonist had developed a whole new set of powers. Suddenly Krrish was flying and lifting buildings. The movie was altogether watchable but with the final fight sequence the follow through after the two movies left a bad taste.

Credit: Balaji Motion Pictures

Is it only me or is there anybody else who likes the villain more than the hero? In a movie while the protagonist is the one who establishes the story, it is the villain who makes the story move forward. It would be the conflict in the motives of the hero and the villain that would carry on the story forward. So it becomes necessary to make both of their characters strong. The amount of time which is spent in the character development of the hero, the villain needs to go through the same amount of time. Bollywood has a serious problem when it comes to choosing a villain for superhero. Aliens dropping from sky seems cliché now. Krrish 3 had Kaal, A Flying Jatt had Raka. While Kaal was just a mix of Professor X and Magneto from the X men franchise, it was hard to digest Raka gaining its power from toxic waste. Both of these characters felt out of place. These stories would have felt stronger when equal emphasis was given to the villain.

The foremost part to be considered when making a superhero movie is that the rules stay the same. It’s all about the story and then the other things follow through. You can have stunning visuals but all of it becomes a gimmick if audience don’t buy the story. This becomes an added responsibility when your entire movie is based on fiction. The explanation for every ‘beyond-the-human-boundaries’ thing your superhero does should have a context. The more the explaining you do the easier it becomes for the viewers to relate. For Bollywood this is what has been one of the main problems so far. Somehow our superheroes seem over the top and this is because the backstory supporting it is not authentic enough. One of the crucial moments in superhero movies is how he gains his abilities. This part needs to be dealt more carefully.

The worst thing to happen to an action movie is messing up the special effects. With daily new progress in the technologies available, a superhero movie would be doomed if the CGI game is not on point. We have seen it happen to the Justice League. Somebody faked Superman’s mouth and the whole world noticed. The lesson to be learnt is that if you are touching the part where your movie needs computer generated effects then make sure they are on point and the final work seems authentic. A bad CGI in the middle of the movie is liking noticing a dead fly in your food. Suddenly the whole experience is ruined and all you want is a refund! And this feels legitimate when you have so much good works to draw comparison from. There are movies that don’t belong to the action genre yet special effects works are appreciable. In fact there are evidences of movies being made which don’t promise to have a lot of CGI yet they are appreciable. The best example is Christopher Nolan’s The Batman Trilogy. Most of its stunts were pulled off without CGI.

Credit: Phantom Films / Eros International

A lot of movies have attempted to break this long drought of having a very own Indian superhero put all have lacked in some or the other part. The latest attempt was made by Vikramaditya Motwane’s Bhavesh Joshi Superhero. This was the closest that a movie came to how I believe a supehero Bollywood movie should be. It had a familiar character, the problem faced by him was relatable, the villain seemed to be a character we could find in an Indian background and how the whole story unfolded, it seemed relatable. The beauty of it was that the origin story seemed more authentic than the previous attempts. The abilities seemed authentic and nothing over the top. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero can be a guide to making a superhero movie in India. Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt are starring in Brahmastra, Hrithik Roshan and Rakesh Roshan have speculated to be working on the fourth movie in the Krrish franchise. Let’s see how much these movie work on improving the taste of superhero movies in Bollywood.

Shubham Kumar

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