Before you see HANCOCK, the new Will Smith movie about a dissolute superhero, I advise you to heed two terrible words of warning: AKIVA GOLDSMAN!!!

It also invokes Heidi’s Law of Movies: The quality of a film will be in inverse proportion to the number of short films based on production companies that precede said film. The list of producers includes Ian Bryce, Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, Michael Mann, Jonathan Mostow, Richard Saperstein and Will Smith…that’s a lot of cooks.

This is a very odd movie. It’s like some production assistant was walking along carrying a Steve Gerber superhero movie script and a Thor movie script and then dropped them on the floor and mixed up the first half of the Gerber movie with the last half of the Thor movie. I know this movie had a loooong development process, but perhaps one of my Hollywood pals can chime in on just what happened, because there is so much tinkering evident with the premise that the resulting film doesn’t make any sense. A lot of stuff happens but it isn’t about anything in particular.

The first half has moments of novelty and interest — a drunken superhero who destroys even as he’s compelled to protect is an intriguing start. If someone had made a script by Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes on that topic it would have been a wonderful movie — it would not have been greenlit for $150 million however.

I’ve heard a few people say that HANCOCK is proof that soon Hollywood won’t need comic book stories for their superhero movies — they’ll just make up their own. The plot and premise here reminds me of what I would see back in the day when I was editing whenever some Hollywood guy or gal pitched me some ideas — they would be some kind of simple, deconstructed idea that would never get past the slush pile at Marvel or DC because they were so simple and direct — a regular man must deal with the effects of getting superpowers on his family (UNBREAKABLE), what if a superheroine dated a regular guy (MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND), what if a superhero was a drunk (HANCOCK.) These simple, direct ideas are aimed at the largest audience possible, and it’s tempting to think that comics might find a wider audience if they went with such ideas…but I don’t think that’s the answer either.

Anyway I can’t really recommend this movie, but it’s sure to make a bucketload opening weekend anyway — Will Smith and the Fourth of July and all that. It’s the law.


  1. I saw a sneak preview a week ago. It does change drastically halfway through.

    It had some interesting ideas, but like I Am Legend, it didn’t develop them. Why is he an alcoholic? Why is he so angry? Then one movie ends, and the next begins, and that isn’t developed very well. The second part would have been better if they had taken the Unbreakable twist ending and applied it to Charlize Theron’s character.

    It will have a good opening, but I think it will drop off once people realize their preconceptions aren’t what the movie delivers.

    Hancock drinking game: each person in your party reads a random review from Rotten Tomatoes. Take a shot if “Batman & Robin” or “Last Action Hero” is mentioned.

    The reason Hollywood enjoys a simple, deconstructed plot is because it is easy to sell to the public, to boil down to a tagline on a poster or ad, to make the viewer remember the movie and want to go see it. But some of the best comics do that, too. (What if Superman’s rocket ship landed in Soviet Russia? What if the supervillains won, and have been secretly controlling the planet for the past forty years? A man and his pet monkey are the last males on earth. A group of humans in spaceships search for Home.)

  2. I think Will Smith is the Jay-Z of movies, so yeah, I’ll be there regardless.

    From what I understand, the original script was called, “Tonight, He Comes.” I’ve heard it’s a million flavors of awesome. You may want to look for it.

  3. “I think Will Smith is the Jay-Z of movies, so yeah, I’ll be there regardless.”

    I could see that, but it has the exact opposite effect on me.

    “Tonight, He Comes” is one of those movie titles that proves that movie executives were never 13 year olds.

  4. I liked MY SUPER EX and UNBREAKABLE a lot, I guess I’m a simpleton, but they were both clearly one-trick ponies and thank heavens there will never be sequels. I agree with your underlying point, Heidi… to really make franchises and build a universe, Hollywood has to keep turning to comics… the characters have been developing and changing and growing for 30 years… no amount of time in back room development can match that.

    As much as I like the movies above, they have nothing on the stuff based on the mean & potatoes of our cultural lives.

    I’ll go see HANCOCK, but it’s just going to be a quick dose to keep my adrenaline going through the IRON MAN, HULK, WANTED, hancock, HELLBOY, BATMAN orgy that is this Summer.

    Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.

  5. I whited out a spoiler in Torsten’s posts.

    I think the title “Tonight, He Comes”, proves that ALL movie execs were 13 years old once.

  6. Abhay Kosla wrote recently on Savage Critics that when screenwriters are brought in for a “fresh perspective” on superheroes it’s usually something we jaded fans have seen before (although Abhay observed that things aren’t that simple).

    I watched the first season of Heroes on DVD and couldn’t get over the fact that if this was a comic book it would be seen as fairly unremarkable. Give it to the populace at large and it’s something exciting and new.

    I’d like to see Hollywood try something like Seaguy or Enigma, some of the best deconstructions of the superhero genre I can think of.

  7. “I think the title “Tonight, He Comes”, proves that ALL movie execs were 13 years old once.”

    That’s true. My theory was more that the fact that it was at one point seriously considered by someone was a bad sign.

    “What’s that? It could have a second meaning? I don’t get it.”

  8. I actually liked the last two Goldsman/Smith collaborations, I Am Legend and i, Robot. I still think Goldsman deserved to have his Oscar kept away from him for the Schumacher Batman films, but he’s not that bad anymore. Which doesn’t mean Hancock is good.

    Also, I liked Unbreakable a lot. I think wouldn’t exist without all the comic books that inspired it, though, so it’s a weak example of Hollywood Superheroes Without Marvel and DC.

  9. I’ve been disliking what I’ve heard of this film for a while now. To save space, I’ll just link to a blog post I made with my nitpicks. IN particular I complain that the scummy fallen hero has already been done to perfection by Garth Ennis, as well as others, and this movie falls far short of those tales. Plus studio meddling to a large degree sounds involved.

    (Warning some spoilers)

    Of course a major complaint is right there above. Akiva Goldsman. How is that man still making superhero films or even any films? Plus I am Legend was a piece of crap with one of the worst Hollywood cop out endings I’ve ever seen.

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