The Demise of Comic Books

This is a piece I did for a magazine project back in the summer 2015 and I completely forgot I made it.  It’s a bit of a rushed feature but it’s interesting to see my views on the comic book film world back then.  In a year since I wrote this piece we’ve had a ton of hits like Deadpool and Antman but we’ve also had huge flops like Fan4stic and Batman vs Superman.

I might do an updated version on this to see where we are now one year into the whole super hero phenomena.  I’m going to see Captain America Civil War on Friday so I may do a review on that and maybe update my views on comic book films as a whole.  For however enjoy this little piece from 2015 me.  

Comic book films are a hit or miss, for every Avengers movie there’s a Catwoman film.  With every release of a superhero film there’s that risk of making someone’s favourite hero look pretty crap.  The Green Lantern and Spiderman, two of comic’s most iconic characters have been torn apart, reimagined and scrapped all in the space of 10 years.  Is it fair that our favourite heroes get this treatment or should we be happy that we’re seeing them in real life?

Comic book films can work.  The Dark Knight and the Avengers prove that a good representation of superheroes can work.  But when it doesn’t work it can be the end for some heroes.  The Green Lantern is an interesting hero and is also a very popular one. He is one of DC Comics biggest heroes and has a very strong following.  However the film release of the Green Lantern staring Ryan Reynolds has received a huge backlash receiving a low 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Just because you have a popular hero does not mean you have a popular film.  For the Green Lantern this film has been a huge set back, don’t be surprised if we see another revamping of the character.

ARE COMIC BOOK FILMS IMPROVING?

It’s true that we get the occasional Catwoman film every once in a while but when you compare films released today to super hero movies in the 80s and 90s there is a huge difference in quality.   The only worthy comic book films to remember in the 80s and 90s are probably the Michael Keaton Batman films and the Christopher Reeve Superman films.  This was when DC was in the driving seat and Marvel was playing catch up.  Funny how things change so quickly.  Batman and Superman succeeded because it stuck to the comics.  The 80s marvel films such as Howard the Duck and the infamous Italian made Captain America failed because directors strayed too far off the comics.  Howard the Duck was for a time a very likeable character.  It only took George Lucas one attempt to turn the lost talking space duck into the laughing stock of the comic world.

Fast forward 30 years and we see that Marvel has learnt from its mistakes whereas DC is in a panic trying to play catch up.  Although saying Marvel is succeeding in present time could be an over statement.  Marvel films are indeed leading the way but that doesn’t mean they haven’t faltered.  They have adapted the likes of the X-men and the Avengers extremely well but for Spiderman (one of my most beloved heroes) they are revamping, changing and experimenting on him way too much.

Its heart breaking to witness this as the film companies know he is a very likeable character and they know fans will want to see him on the big screen.  With talks of a third reimagining of the character in 15 years it’s clear the studios have no idea what to do with the web slinger.  This is why we need to be careful about superhero movies.  With companies rushing film making in order to get them released on time there’s a risk at making a film or character look sloppy.  This is why there is a problem with the release dates of the franchise already being set.  This wasn’t so much a problem in the 80s but is definitely an issue we have today.  The Marvel franchise is being praised by many but are people really suggesting that all their films are a hit?  Iron Man 2, Thor: Dark World and The Amazing Spiderman 2 are very weak if not mediocre films.  For one of these heroes it looks like their time is running out but for the other two the only reason they are still on screens is because they have a part in the much better film series The Avengers.  It is rewarding to know that for the first time our heroes are now interacting with one another.  This has led to some very interesting story lines in the films that were originally in the comics.  However, because of legal ‘mumbo jumbo’ not all characters can interact with one another which has led to some directors using alternative story lines not found in the comics.

THE WORST COMIC TO FILM CHANGES

I full understand that changes from the comics have to be made in order to film but then people are just messing with storylines that turn the comics on their head.  Many superheroes have been ruined because of their changes and the films and comics have suffered because of this.  Some of these may be tedious but to any comic fans they are huge.  One of the biggest changes that ruined comics was by making one of comic books biggest villains ‘Galactus’ into a flimsy cloud.  What the hell was that about?! The already fairly average Fantastic Four series took a huge dip in its sequel and the main reason for this was its change of Galactus.  In the comics Galactus is a huge towering planet-devouring cosmic entity in humanoid form.  He has a trademark purple helmet and is known by all superhero fans.  What we ultimately got in the Rise of the Silver Surfer movie was a giant cloud. That’s it. A giant, planet-swallowing cloud.  To this day I don’t know if this was a production cost issue or no one on the film had actually read the comics.  Some might argue that a huge towering purple helmeted man might seem a bit strange.  But regardless that is what Galactus is and that is how he should be portrayed.  The cloud was a poor attempt by the film companies and ultimately it ruined the franchise and a great villain.

Another Marvel films issue I have is making Aldrich Killian one of Iron Mans greatest enemies The Mandarin.  When I first saw the trailer for Iron Man 3 I was ecstatic to find that Ben Kingsley was going to portray the Mandarin, it’s as if he was born to play the part. In the comics the Madarin wields ten rings of power that grant him ten different abilities, such as the ability to control people’s minds, the ability to bring inanimate objects to life and the ability to fire blasts of energy, electricity, ice and flame.  We saw none of this in the film and the final product was extremely confusing.  Ben Kingsley was presented as a British actor only portraying the Mandarin where in reality the true Mandarin was portrayed by ldrich Killian, a minor character in the comics and the man in the movie who was responsible for the creation of Extremis.  This is an outrage, regardless if the film was good or not this major change ruined everything.  Comics and films will always have a complicated relationship.  With comic book films making millions at the box office expect our comic heroes to be tampered with even more.

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