First and foremost, there’s something I should admit: I bought my first comic ever yesterday. I’ve had a love for on-screen superheroes since the original X-Men cartoon series but when it came to comic books, I felt intimidated.
I mean X-Men alone has been around since the early 1960’s! That’s over 50 years worth of issues to get through for just one of the hundreds of beloved superhuman series out there. Some of the greats like Captain America span back as far as the 1940’s, catching up now seems like an investment of time and money that I don’t have, no matter how much I want to. Luckily, I’ve never been short on alternatives.
X-Men Apocalypse keeps the film series going strong, despite mixed general opinion.
My superhero knowledge stemmed from typical children’s cartoons but as the years have gone by, more new superheroes have broken onto the big screen. As the times have changed, these films have catered to a larger audience and have even captured the hearts of an older generation than my own.
Comedic stars like Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and Jim Carrey once took up the roles of some of Batman’s most well known villains (not to mention the chillingly terrible puns of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze) but today, those same roles are played with a much darker tone. A sense of grittiness and realism has come to superhero cinema that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats and has steadily dominated Hollywood. This is no longer a market just for children and in many cases, can be rated strictly for mature audiences.
Jim Carrey played the part of The Riddler incredibly…for it’s time at least.
It does beg the question though; is there an end in sight for this superhuman success? The old favorites are crossing over into a single cinematic universe for both Marvel and DC, the two big greats of the comic industry. Over 25 new superhero films are scheduled for release between now and the year 2020, not to mention the countless TV shows that we can expect to see more of. Even Netflix has an exclusive superhero schedule for the foreseeable future. When will we be done with superheroes?
In truth, some of us already are. There’s more than one article out there that believes that the market has been flooded with a trend of sub-standard, predictable films that are poorly written and leave an audience wondering “How many times does the world really need saved?”
The long-time fans who have spent their youth reading about these heroes are happy to see them get the publicity they deserve and will defend them against those critics to the death. They declare that the critics just don’t understand comic books and that they have no right to criticize something they’ve never tried to follow. All the while, they themselves criticize the films for not staying completely loyal to the comics.
As for me…I say “Oh, please shut up! You’re both wrong anyway!”
What I admire more than anything about the comic book industry is it’s flexibility and durability. We’re talking about an industry that has maintained itself and evolved longer than a lot of us may even live! For it to grow into what it is today isn’t just a trend, it’s been inevitable for quite some time!
Even then, the cinematic world of superheroes manages to clearly set itself apart from the comics. I’ve flipped through the pages of what spawned Captain America: Civil War and seen superheroes that haven’t yet been introduced to the cinematic universe. With that in mind, how can an audience be expected to follow groups of superheroes they’ve never met for the sake of pleasing the long-time fans?
Instead, the scriptwriters have proven their worth by giving fresh introductions to these heroes for those like myself who were previously unfamiliar with them. They’ve managed to turn these strange, superhuman individuals into characters that I genuinely care about.
Naturally, there are unfortunate exceptions. Batman vs Superman received a lot of negative criticism and I’ve yet to watch a Fantastic Four or Hulk film I enjoy but there isn’t a genre out there that gets it right all the time.
For the most part though, I’ve been blown away by the superheroes that hit the TV or big screen. I’m excited for new character debuts such as The Justice League, Luke Cage, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Iron Fist and I remain eager for the next installments of the heroes I love such as The Avengers, Deadpool, Arrow, The Flash and The X-Men which have maintained a good track record of dramatic action epics that I’ll happily watch time and time again (except for X-Men: Origins…we don’t talk about that one).
Black Panther’s debut in Captain America: Civil War has spurned excitement for his upcoming film.
There’s more stories written for these heroes than Hollywood may ever manage to provide us so you can be sure that superheroes aren’t going away anytime soon. I’m sure they won’t always dominate the market the way they do today but you may as well get used to their existence.
They’ve earned their place and I couldn’t be happier for them.