IRON MAN | PARAMOUNT PICTURES
DARK KNIGHT | WARNER BROS
capability of turning his head in the cowl but also put DC/Warner Bros at the top of the Box Office in the superhero movie genre. Of course, Marvel movies have had their embarrassments when production quality and/or story quite simply tanked. Daredevil was lukewarm at best (but still much better than its later spinoff, Elektra). Hulk was a far from charming attempt at a literal comic book movie with its dizzying panels; fortunately 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was much better-made and helped us to forget. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer may have done better if oldschool comic readers hadn’t been so offended but that’s what happens when the originally humanoid Galactus is made to resemble the Oort Cloud. Given the likelihood of studios either letting down long-time fans with their hearts set on seeing what they already know, or failing to capture an audience of the uninitiated who have never heard of, say, this Iron Man fellow, the demise of the superhero film should have been inevitable from the start. So the question becomes: why the continuous popularity? People want these movies, as evidenced by the surge in the comic book market over the last decade. Marvel Comics, once a niche entertainment provider, has become such a valuable property that the kingpin of entertainment, Disney, saw fit to merge with it. This is clearly not a phase Hollywood is going through – superhero movies aren’t dwindling, they are gaining strength in numbers. Four high-profile superhero films are slated for 2011, including the
Marvel projects Thor, X-Men: First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger, as well as DC’s The Green Lantern. How will studios keep it going? Warner Bros have apparently learned from Marvel’s example (and probably from the poor performance by Superman Returns) that tired, overused icons won’t do the job. The goal for Green Lantern is undoubtedly the same fortune Marvel found with Iron Man, when a character mostly unheard of by non-readers became the most popular hero on the block. Meanwhile, another Superman film with Christopher Nolan’s name attached waits in the background...just in case! Marvel is rectifying their mistake of signing rights to outside studios by taking what popular characters they do have – Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor and Captain America, along with hundreds of other heroes full of potential but as yet unused – and interconnecting them, a project whose ambition will culminate in The Avengers in 2012. So don’t bother to look up in the sky. Just head to the cinema for some superheroes, because they’ll be there for a good long time. These movies have no Kryptonite.
THOR | MARVEL STUDIOS
The University of Kent Film Society's magazine, Issue 7.1: Winter 2010 Comic books, horror, John Hughes...and the Human Centipede...