Comic books. My generation has grown up with cartoons, T.V. series, and major motion picture adaptations of some of the world’s most famous superheroes. Of course throughout the decades there have been other series and films – primarily focused on Superman, Batman and The Hulk. While the 90’s had its superhero films, some good some not,
nothing continued as an ever expanding franchises. In the 90’s – much like other decades – a superhero film was big news because they weren’t common. In 2000 something changed. I credit Bryan Singer for the precedent by which modern comic book films are made. He wowed us with his more realistic take on the famous Marvel team, The X-Men. Then in 2002 Sam Raimi thrilled us with his Spider-Man, and from then on out we have been grace with at least one superhero film nearly every other year until 2008. During that year, Marvel had the idea of doing their films in house and brought two of their major characters to life: Iron Man, while also attempting to breath new life into The Hulk.
Since 2008 there have been multiple superhero films released annually. 2009 saw the poorly done X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Zack Snyder’s pretentious take on The Watchmen, and The Spirit. 2010 saw Iron Man 2, R.E.D., Scott Pilgrim, Jonah Hex, and Kick-Ass, 2011: Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, and X-Men First Class, 2012: The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-man, The Avengers, & Ghost Rider – Spirit of Vengeance. 2013: Iron Man 3, The Wolverine, Man of Steel, Kick-Ass 2, Thor: The Dark World, 2014 is set for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and 2015: Batman VS Superman, Avengers Age of Ultron, Fantastic Four, and Ant-man with more and more slated to come out in the years to come; in fact Marvel claims to have paved a path that leads them all way up until 2021.
Now, this does not count the t.v. series we have had. In 2001 CW(formerly The WB) did a ten year series in ‘Smallville’ that allowed people to follow the path of Clark Kent as he became Superman. The failed series ‘Birds of Prey’ which followed Barbara Gordon and her group of female crime fighters. In 2012 The CW produced a tv show based on The Green Arrow simply titled ‘Arrow’.
NBC attempted to bring Wonder Woman to life which has now been taken over by the CW, and to add more to that pile the WB/CW are looking into doing a t.v. show about the Gotham City Police Department, which as rumour has it would possibly be set within the 8 year gap between The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises, and a new Flash series that would spin off out of Arrow. And lest we forget CBS also has their 2013 series: ‘Agents of Shield’ which will follow on from Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ film.
It is clear that the studios cannot retain quality as they push out all these films and series which explains the reboots of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and the search for a new Batman in Snyder’s Man of Steel Sequel Batman Vs Superman. Comic Book films/series are like processed food now. The studios are churning out film after film and while the presentation may at times be great the quality of ingredients, or the story, is incredibly poor leaving you empty and bloated. With Marvel ploughing on and DC scurrying trying to formulate a shared Universe, one has to wonder – when will this stop? Well, it won’t until people stop paying to see these films. Until then, the studios will continue to give the public processed films with only a few quality ones slipping through which keep people coming back for more. As a fan of comic book films I’m not suggesting we get rid of them, but I do fear over-saturation. There appears to be more mediocre hero films than truly really good ones. Thus, who can be excited about these films when they are smacking you in the face like a long line of advertisements as you drive down the street. Eventually it blurs and becomes forgotten.
Do you think there’s a risk of over-saturation or have we already fallen into that trap? Do think Marvel’s 2021 path is a good thing or bad? Should DC do a Police procedural set between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises? Do you want more films and tv series all interlinking therefore creating something similar to a live action comic book with monthly issues coming out, or is less more and better at keeping things viable? Give us your thought below.