Superheroes taking a break after ‘Year of the Comic Book Movie’
I don’t think you can argue against the statement I made in the headline of this post, that 2008 is truly the Year of the Comic Book Movie. There’s two reasons why I feel comfortable making that claim, and those reasons are as follows.
1. The Quantity
Let’s be completely honest here, if you’re picky about your comic book movies, you had, and still have, plenty to choose from this year. Like Batman? well, here’s “The Dark Knight.” No? They made an “Iron Man,” too. Or you could go with a more obscure adaptation like “Wanted,” “The Spirit” or “Hancock.” Still nothing? “Speed Racer,” “Hellboy II,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “The Punisher” also have a big-screen presence this year. Although there is going to be a small lull after “The Dark Knight’s” release, it seemed for a while there this summer that we were getting one of these movies a week, keeping fanboys across the globe happy-ass campers and giving them plenty to gossip and speculate about all over the interwebs. I can’t remember another year like this, one that was completely dominated by comic book movies. This is really insane.
2. The Quality
I’ve recently rewatched some older comic book movies, circa early 1990s, and you know what? Some of them were just laughably bad in comparison to what we’re getting nowadays. Maybe it’s just that I can’t remember that far back, but I can’t seem to recall people complaining about them back then. Comic book movies were ridiculous, campy, over-the-top and goofy, but that’s just what people expected. Somewhere between now and then (maybe it was “Spider-Man,” maybe “Batman Begins.” Who really knows?) The general public started to demand and receive more from their comic book movie experience. “The Dark Knight” very might well be a masterpiece ( I have to see it again before I truly stamp that word on it), “Iron Man,” even though I knew nothing about the books, was pretty kick ass, “The Incredible Hulk” reboot was far superior to Ang Lee’s disaster, “Wanted” took everyone by surprise, “Hancock” was good for what it was. These movies are starting to transcend the comic-book-movie-genre target audience and becoming, well, just movies; people actually respect the comic book adaptation, giving serious Oscar consideration to its actors and so on and so forth.
Well, there’s an interesting article up at Variety that explains that the genre might not be able to take advantage of this momentum, thanks to the writer’s strike:
For now, 2009 only has two traditional superhero films on the sked — Warner Bros.’ “Watchmen” and Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”
The same is pretty much true for 2010, when only three such pics are on the docket: an “Iron Man” sequel, “Thor” and Sony’s launch of “Green Hornet.”
The reason is largely being blamed on the writers strike that kept studios from developing new properties.
For example, after successfully launching its first two self-financed pics, “Iron Man” and “Hulk,” Marvel Studios is forced to sit out all of next year because the walkout kept it from developing a slate of new pics with scribes.
The strike is also partly to blame for stalling Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated take on “Justice League,” which would team DC Comics’ Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Flash characters.
This is both good and bad news for the comic book movie fanatics out there. Of course, it sucks that just five new adaptations are expected for the next two years, even though they should be pretty good ones. “Watchmen” is already getting people talking, “Iron Man 2” is bound to be good now that John Favreau is back, and, although I personally don’t like the franchise, “X-Men” has a big fanbase.
But there is a silver lining to this cloud, and the Variety article talks about it briefly — people will be hungry for more after a short break in between comic book movies. It’s no secret that the general public is still clamoring for comic book movies. I mean, just look at what “The Dark Knight” is doing right now. But there will be a point where enough is enough, and people will start to grow tired of the same ol’ formula. If Hollywood, even though its more out of the necessity created by the writers’ strike than by a solid plan, takes its foot off the gas pedal on these movies, it’ll leave fans wanting more instead of finally deciding to not go to these flicks anymore. Even though comic book movies have huge bankability and create money-making franchise opportunities, it might be better for everyone in the long-run that this lull is taking place right at the genre’s height of popularity.
And don’t worry, there are more on the way in the future. Here’s a list of in-development projects from around the industry (via Variety):
- Marvel plans to release an “Iron Man” sequel in April 2010, and follow that up with “Thor” that June. In 2011, it will intro “Captain America” and “The Avengers,” which teams Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and other Marvel heroes. It also has pics in development based on “Ant-Man” and “Luke Cage.”
- Warner Bros. and DC want Superman to fly again, another Batman is a given, and individual pics for Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Arrow and Green Lantern are being scripted. “Shazam!” was in the works at New Line.
- Sony has a fourth “Spider-Man” planned for 2011.
- Universal has “Sub-Mariner,” based on the undersea character Namor.
- Fox is readying sequels or spinoffs based on its successful “X-Men” franchise, including one on archvillain Magneto.