Kapow: The Great Comic Book Explosion

Television series Gotham, The Flash and Constantine have all debuted in the last month. The new seasons of Arrow, Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead have also started to air in the last four weeks. Marvel Studios announced last week their plan for what they call Phase Three, which will see them release sequels to Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, The Avengers and four other standalone films.

All of these new developments for film and television have all happened within the last month, but what do these have in common? They’re all adapted from comic books.

Since 2000 there has been a definite increase in the amount of comic book adaptations. Before then the only real noted comic book films were the Superman and Batman franchises, two of the biggest and well known superheroes in the world.

The release of X-Men in 2000 changed all that. This was the first sign that a film based on comic book superheroes that weren’t Superman or Batman could be a critical and financial success. X-Men added an idea of realism to these movies and tried to tell a human story about people with superhuman powers.

That seems to be the winning formula for these films’ success. Directors are telling stories using real life problems about people with unnatural abilities. It’s almost as if the fantastical nature of the story becomes secondary to the trials and tribulations they experience throughout their lives.

The idea of franchises is also another one of the reasons that we see so many superhero films today. These heroes would already have a cult following from the original comic books’ readers plus from the animated series about these characters. So people will go to the cinema, to see these people who they grew up watching brought to life on the big screen. If the film makes any sort of decent money, it will get a sequel, regardless of the critical reaction.

Since 2004, there have been at least two films based on major comic book characters released a year. In this year alone there have been six. In 2016 another seven are planned for release while there will be nine in 2017.
You may ask if these adaptations are really making waves in the film and television industries. Well, Heath Ledger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight, while the biggest and most controversial movies news in the last year has been Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So you can draw your own conclusions from that.

Gavin Nolan

Image credit: blogspot.com

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