Comic book and Superhero movies- Where next?
A look at how perceptions of the superhero genre have changed thanks to movies such as The Dark Knight and Watchmen, from an expert on comic books and the movies that they spawn.
It is a strange time for the comic book movies genre. With last year's superhero films The Dark Knight, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, audiences were treated to feature films that took the core elements of the superheroes that have filled comics for decades and turned them into successful movie properties. The genre as a whole has reached something of an impasse now, mostly down to The Dark Knight, but also down to this year's WATCHMEN adaptation. Audiences aren't just there for effects, and the studios have been taking note. The comic book films we are now seeing released are amongst the most serious, most respectful and most powerful the genre has ever produced.
With The Dark Knight, perceptions of the superhero genre have shifted somewhat. Now, movie audiences are starting to see the same grit and level of drama that comics audiences have known of for years. Iron Man is a great example of the genre being captured perfectly on film. Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of the billionaire Tony Stark was pitch perfect, giving us a hero with much more than just two dimensions.
Some may argue that the superhero film came of age back with the first X-men film, and they would be right to a certain extent, but it does seem that the genre is starting to be taken more seriously by critics as a viable source of intelligent entertainment as well as simple blockbuster fodder. What critics need to remember is that these characters have had decades to become the fully realized people that appear on screen. These characters come supplied with a ready-made background and motivations, making it much easier for filmmakers to bring a vibrant portrayal to the screen.
WATCHMEN is seen as the Citizen Kane of comic books, and to many fans of the printed page, it is the Holy Grail. Film versions have been talked about for many years now, but it finally fell upon the shoulders of Zack '300' Snyder to bring Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's massively influential 12-issue series to a new audience. Fans old and new are curious as to the film will match the depth and scope of the book itself.
That's the thing though- movies have been a huge boon to the comics industry, helping it survive as tastes in entertainment have continued to change. With superheroes, there will always be an audience, but that audience has changed. The comic book movie is no longer just the domain of elitist geeks (not that it ever really was), but now something that everyone can take an interest in. With new Spider-man, Batman and X-Men movies on the way, as well as many more properties announced and in development, the future of the genre really can't go anywhere but up, up and away.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew writes for the movie collectibles site STARSTORE and their many blogs, as well as being a renowned music journalist and SF author. For more great articles and news on the movies, comics and merchandise industry, check out The Famous Starstore Blog.