Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Starring: Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, Seth Green
So, the man behind Supersize Me decided to do a documentary about the United State’s largest geek event, san Diego Comic-Con. Spurlock comes from the propaganda subgenre of documentary filmmaking so the very idea that he would touch something related to geek fandom is scary. Luckily he somehow connected with true geek creatives Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Seth Rogan, and most notably his producer on this film Joss Whedon. They kept him out of the propaganda space that he usually veers into but did they help him make a good movie?
IMDB says this film was originally released in 2012. The film never played anywhere near me during its theatrical run and I just think subconsciously I have been avoiding it because it was directed by Morgan Spurlock. Well, I finally watched it. While it may be old news, I need to speak my mind on it so here you go. I was happy to discover right away that Spurlock went to the real documentary toolbox for this film. Rather than just show crazy costumes, merch shots, and new reels, he was able to find a handful of real stories to tell, fans and others involved with the convention to lead us through the movie. Don’t worry; we get all of the other stuff too.
We meet a young man planning to propose marriage to his girlfriend during a Kevin Smith panel at Comic-Con, there’s the owner of Mile High Comics setting up shop at the con and hoping there were enough of the dwindling comic book fans to make his trip worth while, and we follow two artists hoping to score jobs in the comic book industry. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this film, the thing that sets it apart from so many other similar films including the classic “Fans and Freaks: the Culture of Comics and Conventions” (a much stronger study of the geek as a character IMHO) is the feeling so many long time fans have that the comic book fandom is being run out of the convention. The comic book section of the con feels segregated and is crushed under the weight of non-geeks at the event just to try and see a movie star. The feeling is valid too. When I was at SDCC in 2011 I was able to get into some amazing comic book panels and meet really the creators with very little wait while my friends waited all night in line to get into a Game of Thrones panel where the stars were to be present.
The problem with this film is that it raises the negatives attached to the growth of SDCC and it stops. There are no interviews with con staff to counter the points made by fans and dealers that the convention isn’t for geeks anymore. Sure seeing the amazing costume work of one fan and seeing Seth Green and Joss Whedon talk about meeting their mentors is great but all of that has been done before. Comic-Con Episode IV really gets close to telling us something we haven’t heard before and then it wanders back into cool costumes and merch territory. To put it bluntly, this movie has no balls. The director and creators had access to people who have a say in the convention and to stars that have real impact on the event and all they do is mention the problems with the convention’s growth and evolution, they don’t delve any deeper. It’s like Spurlock was content to wade around in the shallow end of the pool. The truth is there may be some fear of getting to real about the event because as a geek creator you don’t want to be banned from the event.
The movie is still a reasonably fun one-time watch mostly because Kevin Smith is hilarious as usual and yeah; some of the costumes are cool.