Superhero Shorts: What if Ingmar Bergman Directed the Flash?
Welcome to another edition of Superhero Shorts where I take a look at a superhero themed short film and ask a few questions of the creator. This time around I have Patrick Willems who has been making YouTube shorts for quite a while now, including many superhero themed videos like the one that recently spread across the internet and caught my attention. While many sites don’t mention it, this is actually part of an ongoing series taking a look at what a superhero film might look like if it was directed by a well known director who is unlikely to ever attempt a superhero film for various reasons. This time around he wondered What if Ingmar Bergman Directed the Flash? As usual, you can watch below or you can visit Patrick’s YouTube channel where you can see all of his videos, including the series that this video is a part of, Comic Book Movies That Will Never Happen.
Even if I hadn’t watched my first Bergman movie a couple months back I would immediately recognize the style of this video. It’s a great concept that has a lot of different possibilities for future episodes. The Flash costume itself is an interesting choice as it’s not any traditional style of costume that I’m familiar with, but it still immediately reads as “The Flash”. It gets a lot of the Swedish angst in there with random shots of waves crashing all in black in white and while some of the pseudo high speed effects have a very homemade feel to them like the bullet catching moment, it gives it a bit more of an odd feel to the whole thing which somehow makes it feel more like a Bergman movie. But enough from me, let’s hear from the director himself, Patrick Willems.
Bubbawheat: You’ve been making videos on YouTube for a while now, what have been the biggest surprises, both one that hit out of nowhere and one you really liked but didn’t catch on?
Patrick Willems: The biggest surprise was probably the original Point Break video. It didn’t seem significant at the time, just that week’s video, and then suddenly it’s on the front page of Reddit with hundreds of thousands of views. Looking back, I can see that it’s one of my better videos, but I’m still not sure what made it blow up to that degree.
On a less positive note, I wish “Aquaman: The Teen Drama” had gotten more attention, considering we spent almost half a year working on it. I realize it’s a weird concept with kind of a narrow appeal, but I think we made something pretty cool. And it’s got a great soundtrack.
BW: What was the inspiration to start this series of superhero clips done in the style of various famous directors?
PW: I’m actually amazed it took me so long to think of the idea. The seeds were planted last summer with the videos where I re-imagined scenes from Point Break as if made by different filmmakers. It’s a fun challenge to break down the components of a director’s style and figure out how they would handle a certain piece of material. Plus I love the opportunity to experiment with radically different styles and try to accurately mimic these great directors. People in the comments section kept bugging me about doing more Point Break videos, but I felt that I’d exhausted that subject.
I was looking to start some kind of recurring video series this year, and since I do a lot of stuff involving comics, this clicked as the perfect concept. Every one is totally unique, and there’s a limitless number of options. The real fun comes from sitting around with my team (Mike Curran, Jake Torpey, and Matt Torpey) and brainstorming the potential pairings. Like saying, “Who would make a fascinating Spider-Man movie but would never actually do it?” Spike Lee’s Spider-Man. It will never happen, but I would love to see it.
BW: I saw on Twitter that you mentioned you actually watched your first Bergman movie just a few days before filming the Flash. Which movie(s) was it? How did you like it?
PW: As someone with a degree in Cinema Studies, this has always been my secret shame. I’ve been meaning to tackle Bergman’s filmography for years, but it always felt like homework. I watched Through a Glass Darkly, and actually quite liked it. As further research I watched excerpts from Wild Strawberries, Persona, and The Seventh Seal. And Jake, who played the Flash and wrote the amazing narration, has seen several Bergman movies, so he was way more knowledgeable than me.
BW: I’ve personally only seen The Seventh Seal, which I also quite liked, it wasn’t nearly as much homework-like as I also expected it to be. As of now, you have three of these, Sergio Leone’s The Punisher, Tommy Wiseau’s Batman, and of course Igmar Bergman’s The Flash, can you tease one that you’ll be doing in the near future, or would you prefer to keep it a surprise?
PW: I have a list of about fifteen I intend to make. There’s a really big one that will require a bit of a budget, and it involves the X-Men. I can’t spoil the director, but it’s a pairing that I think makes a ridiculous amount of sense. I can’t wait to make that one.
I’ve got a cool plan for Spider-Man that I might make soon. There’s a Wonder Woman one that’s pretty crazy. And maybe the weirdest possible character to pair with Dario Argento (I really hope I can pull that one off).
BW: Now that your Bergman styled Flash video caught some popularity, what’s the most out there director/superhero combination suggestion you’ve gotten? If I were to offer a suggestion I’d go with Kevin Smith’s X-Men. There’s a lot of characters and relationships there that would make for some colorful conversation.
PW: Most of the ideas aren’t any more out there than the ones we’ve already thought of. I saw someone suggested Catwoman by Sofia Coppola, which is such a perfect match. I might actually make that one. And Iron Man by Georges Méliès is an amazing idea, but there’s no way I could do it justice.
BW: I totally agree with you, that Iron Man idea does sound completely amazing, and also insanely hard to pull off. Finally I have to ask, what’s your favorite superhero movie?
PW: Spider-Man 2. A lot of superhero movies, even really good ones, don’t have much of the director’s personality, but this is so completely a Sam Raimi movie, right down to the bonkers Evil Dead-esque hospital scene. It completely understands Spider-Man and what makes the character work, and builds to that beautiful emotional payoff. It’s a legitimately great movie, not just a great superhero movie.
Wait, I’ve got one more. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It actually creates a new character to tie into Batman’s origin and it works perfectly. And that incredible operatic finale is just so good. I think it’s the best Batman movie that’s been made. Okay, now I’m going to watch it tonight.
BW: Mask of the Phantasm is as of right now the biggest superhero movie I’ve yet to get around to, and I even recently picked it up on DVD so I don’t have an excuse anymore. I may have to watch it tonight as well. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
PW: I just want to add that I’ll be at San Diego Comic-Con in a couple weeks, running around making videos. If you see me, feel free to yell at me about what filmmaker/comic book videos you think I should make.
I hope everyone that gets to make it out there enjoys themselves, I’d like to make it out there one day but I’m not sure if I could handle all those crowds. I’ll have to start out with some smaller cons around here in Chicago first. Thanks for your time, I will be keeping up with your upcoming videos and I look forward to see what comes out in the future. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.