Comics are a beautiful thing. So are movies. Each medium is uniquely beautiful with the ability to reach people and touch them in ways that can’t always be seen. Comic Book movies meld the two experiences together. The result is often something that is either successful or a failure. The adaptation becomes even more important to the audience, while also becoming more troublesome. Creators will continue to adapt these comic book characters as long as they continue to make money. For Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. that means they have slates scheduled through 2020 filled with comic book movies. Even I, a lover of all things comic, find it a little overwhelming.
One of the main reasons that comic book movies can be difficult to adapt is because they can have so many different variations. They can be so extremely different that it’s hard to decide which variation would be most fitting to depict on screen. Many comic characters, particularly those with long pasts, have con through many different incarnations. For every time a character was changed up, makes another character than can be shown on screen. Determining the right look and right storyline for a character on screen can result in the fans getting upset if things don’t align perfectly. Instead, audiences should take in the new variation created wit the movie.
The Marvel slate over the past 10 years has been tremendous and continually growing. There are been 10 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that have been released to date. Not only that, but the MCU has expanded to include not just movies, but the TV universe. On that side, we’ve already been introduced to Agents of SHIELD and soon we will be introduced to Agent Carter and Daredevil. However, it is the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that really take center stage. The films have managed to transcend simple comic book movies to become bonafide events. Guardians of the Galaxy, a largely unknown property, has become a genuine hit because of it’s attachment to Marvel. These movies are selling points, raking in millions, close to a billion dollars (and in some cases actually making it to that desirable goal). One thing that Marvel has done well in their films is make it very clear that the MCU is truly it’s own universe. It’s actually numbered Earth-199999, which is notably different than the main comic universe (Earth-616) or Ultimate universe (Earth-1610).
For many years, DC struggled to get their universe off the ground. Admittedly it’s tough when some of the characters are known in the public as rather bland. Not to mention, it is sure to cause a heated debate with closely equal sides as to whether Superman is a good hero or a lame. It’s a tough road DC faces, but they also have a wealth of storylines and incarnations of characters. Most of the prior movies focused on the big heroes or their universe, namely Superman and Batman. Both are essentially icons that manage to put butts in seats (for the most part). It isn’t until recently with the massive success of The Dark Knight trilogy (and no doubt the success of the Arkham video game series) that made Warner Brothers take a look at expanding the universe to compete with Marvel. There was clearly money to be made, and DC had the benefit of having its core characters well known around the world. Not bringing the characters to life would be foolish. Man of Steel was met with mixed reviews. I know I was upset that it didn’t revel in the fact that the movie was about an alien who’s presence on earth made it seem like he had super powers, instead it tried to go for realism (blech). Man of Steel was still proof that DC can thrive in the current market. The result is Warner Brothers is now going all in as they create their own movie universe. The next up will be the much anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (no, it isn’t the next case the Supreme Court will be looking at). However, there has just been a new list of untitled movies that were released. This will knowingly include the Sandman movie that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be producing and likely a Shazam movie featuring Dwayne Johnson. There have been a number of casting rumors and hints including the Shazam news and Jason Momoa as Aquaman.
There have also been a ton of comic book movies that aren’t part of the large stables, but smaller films. Many of these independent comics are released to similarly small audiences. However, they are often passionate audiences that can merit sequels when the time is right. Some of the biggest comic big movies include The Watchmen, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Sin City, and 300. Each of these movies were a bit of the alternatives, but only a small portion of the comics that get made into movies outside of Marvel and DC. These are actually the movies that served as indicators for the big guns to step in and make successful movies. If some of the many comic book movies that were made pre 2004 did poorly, we not be currently be seeing the stable of comic book movies that are currently out and on their way.
Do you enjoy comic book movies?