The Problem With Today’s Comic Book Films

We dive into the second half of Guest Week with an Iranian-born movie/gaming fanatic packing some prior experience writing for entertainment media publications in his home country.

—Written by XVSting—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

July 2008. The latest installment of Gotham’s caped crusader was released and unexpectedly, it changed the face of comic book movies forever. The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan was not only the most appreciated comic book even to this date, but it elevated the comic book genre from cheesy-colorful costumes to award winning dark tales. With extraordinary performances and breathtaking action, The Dark Knight shattered every single barrier and expectation audiences had from a comic book movie. 2008 was also the birth of the first installment of Disney’s fresh cinematic universe that would revolutionise the genre with their masterfully planned strategy. The question is, did titles like 2012’s The Avengers benefit audiences and related movies by creating a new standard, or has their greatness damaged the smaller and solo franchises?  Let’s get started and see how far our beloved and flashy comic book movies have come!

The battle is on.

The battle is on.

While the world didn’t end at 2012, it was definitely a landmark year for comic book movies. As a kid (and I’m positive this was the same for all comic book fans), all I ever wanted was to see a crossover between characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men together in a movie (Even a small reference would make me happy). Hence the reason why I loved games such as Marvel vs Capcom or Marvel Ultimate Alliance so much – they were one of the few entertainment media sources where fans could experience all those characters together in one picture. As I grew up, and essentially got more informed about the industry, that dream slowly faded away due to the multiply copyright dramas of each character and their respective rights holders.  As much as I love and appreciate the greatness of The Avengers for turning mine and probably all comic book fans’ dream into reality, it has created a set of fresh expectations for viewers and related studios. In short, Avengers was so good, everyone is now taking their own approach to catch up with Disney’s meticulously planned universe. Does that help us to see more extravagant movies with all-star characters? Yes. Has it affected the quality and progress of titles that are following this path? Well… this is where I think comic movies and generally most of the blockbuster trend might be going wrong.

Christopher Nolan once stated that he wasn’t going to make the third installment of his very own Batman franchise. Not because of his schedule or any other reason to fill his own wallet, but the fact that he simply didn’t have the right material, in his own words. Unfortunately, this somewhat independent director was an exception and bombing various sequels has been turned into a tradition in the past couple of years. It’s not required that studios have the right material or ground-breaking ideas, just that there is X amount of superhero films released in a scheduled year. Take a look at the upcoming reboot of Fantastic Four. While there is at least another year before it is released, Fox has already officially confirmed the sequel only two years after the release of the first one, alongside a handful of other sequels as well. This is more interesting when you consider the fact that both the director and the writer of the first upcoming Fantastic Four have been sacked. In short, the first movie has no script and yet the sequel is getting planned. As I said before, more comic movies for us, but the more we get, it seems the less they will surprise us.

Fox knows they have a good thing going with X-Men.

Fox knows they have a good thing going with X-Men.

Another victim of going too extravagant to catch up with the competition is Sony, their smaller set of Spider-Man characters and the associated universe. Only two years after the fresh new reboot of Spider-Man (which so far seems extremely pointless to me due to the fact that this reboot is not even close to surpassing the first trilogy), the sequel was released and, while it was enjoyable to watch, evidently the potential of this sequel with their great crew line-up has been sacrificed and wasted to forcefully set up the “Sinister 6” plot – as they are Sony’s only hope for making an Avengers-like movie. As much as I did not like Man of Steel and hated the way Zack Snyder (a.k.a. great action visionary but can’t tell a damn proper story) made the boy scout into a Terminator, it ended by building some great potential for a sequel (The mass that aliens brought to our home and the rise of a politician against him). But it seems that DC’s fresh Superman reboot didn’t even get the chance to meet his own solo sequel as Warner Bros. is pushing all these different characters such as Batman and Wonder Woman (all of whom deserve their very own trilogy) to build a “Justice League” movie to catch up with their own long-running rival. Even though it seems way too early to comment on anything about this title’s quality, Warner seems to be choosing the wrong path compared to the longer process of introducing each character for one big apocalyptic movie.

DC: The world is not ready for Wonder Woman. Marvel: Here's a movie about a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper.

DC: “The world is not ready for Wonder Woman.”
Marvel: “Here’s a movie about a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper.”

Nonetheless there are a lot of exiting comic book movies to wait for. Guardians of the Galaxy (possibly the coolest and ballsiest Marvel concept to this date) or the upcoming Age of Ultron, or even Days of Future Past which is not far away. But it seems that there is not much more left to explore from this genre and us as audiences are never going to experience the same feeling and excitement we had when we saw the first Spider-Man movie or The Dark Knight. Sadly, the good ol’ quote “Quantity over quality” sums up this situation as studios are purely concentrating on making movies, instead of creating a legacy.

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