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Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Film Franchises Well-Suited to Bond-Style Main Title Sequences

The Bond films are iconic for a number of reasons, but for the purposes of this thought I'll name two: reliably entertaining use of key tropes, and opening titles marked by stunning visuals  combined with pop music that adheres to musical structures formed by John Barry and other Bond film composers. In most Bond films, a short prelude, usually an action set piece, opens the film, followed by the main titles. 

This structure has become part of the language of nearly every Bond film, and it creates a sense of familiarity and excitement for the moviegoing public. When you sit down to watch a Bond film, you know exactly what kind of experience you're going to have, and the prelude and main titles reassure you that Bond, once again, is back. 

I don't see any reason--aside from being accused of imitation, the sincerest form of flattery--that other iconic film series couldn't benefit from a similar structure. 

Imagine, if you will, a Superman film. It could open with Clark Kent interviewing people in an underserved neighbourhood of Metropolis, empathizing with their concerns, determining to bring much-needed attention to marginalized people. Just then, his super-hearing picks up an emergency; a man is having a heart attack on a bus, and traffic is too heavy to get him to a hospital in time. Clark rushes into a back alley, changes into Superman, flies across the city to the bus, cradles the man in his arms, and flies him to the hospital in time for life-saving treatment. "You're going to be okay," Superman says, gently placing him on a stretcher rolled over by paramedics. "These fine folks are going to take care of you." (In Superman's world, the US has single-payer healthcare to avoid thorny questions like "Why didn't you let me die so my family wouldn't have to go into bankruptcy to pay my hospital bills?") Superman flies back to the underserved neighbourhood, resumes his interviews, and the camera pans across a shot of bustling Metropolis, which transitions into the main title sequence, beginning with a Daily Planet headline about Clark's story. Images of Clark's glasses, the Superman symbol, the Daily Planet itself, Jimmy Olsen's camera flashbulb going off, Krypton exploding, Kal-El's rocket, Lex Luthor in a power suit, more Daily Planet headlines showing how Clark's story has prompted reform, other Daily Planet headlines about Superman exploits, Lois Lane's purple eyes, Superman's hands saving a cat from a tree, the words "Truth, Justice, and a Better Tomorrow" scrolling by, silhouettes of Superman fighting villains like Metallo or the Atomic Skull, Clark Kent's hands typing at super-speed and melting a typewriter, Superman's cape fluttering in the wind, panning shots of the Hall of Justice and Fortress of Solitude, home video footage of Superman saving people, and finally one final Daily Planet headline that also happens to be the film's title, all set to some amazing song by, I don't know, anyone who's sung a Bond song or someone who probably will in the future. 

Surely this structure would work for other superhero films at the very least, and for Star Trek, the Fast and the Furious, perhaps somewhat ironically for the Universal Monsters, Star Wars (already done by an amateur for The Empire Strikes Back to great effect), Tarzan films, Indiana Jones--really any action-adventure style movies. 

Not Mission: Impossible, though. They use a different structure (essentially the "this episode" montage used in the original TV series), and it's perfect for those movies. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

The intros directed by Maurice Binder all had gorgeous naked women in them. Sign me up.