Comics & Superheroes: Introduction

Posted by on Dec 31, 2011 in Comics & Superheroes | 0 comments

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“In this world, there is right and there is wrong,
and that distinction is not difficult to make.”
– Superman
“The whole world is watching us now.
We must be nothing less than fabulous.”
– X-Men

Ever since the overwhelming success of Superman in 1978, Hollywood has been bursting at the seams with adaptations of comic books, graphic novels, and cartoon strips. And it seems they’re showing no signs of stopping. Superheroes, quite simply, have a formula that has proven successful at the box office. But that doesn’t mean they’ve all done well (Howard the Duck, anyone?) or been good (Fantastic Four).

Since Superman, each decade has presented different milestones in superhero cinema with the Batman craze overtaking the 90s and effects-loaded flicks like X-Men taking over the past decade. A recent poll on IMDB (Internet Movie Database, for you cave-dwellers) asked filmgoers what their favorite superhero movie was. But what qualifies as a superhero movie, and better yet, what criteria does one use to assess that?

Roger Ebert has named Spider-Man 2 the greatest of all time, while the poll showed viewers prefer The Dark Knight. Do we consider the loyalty to the books, which would cancel out Tim Burton’s Batman? Or to the style, which would bring Sin City and The Hulk to the forefront? Do we consider the actions of the protagonist or if stuff blows up real good?

“(A good superhero movie) has to have a good story that grabs the audience and good characters,” comic book legend Stan Lee said. “And a good villain is so important.”

I’ll side with Stan Lee on this one. Any good movie needs a story and characters that capture the audience for an entertaining and/or emotional journey, regardless if it’s based on a manga/comic or a Nicholas Sparks novel (god forbid). And if those characters happen to have unique abilities and inhabit a fascinating world in which they blow stuff up real good, well, that doesn’t hurt, either.

The movies I talk about in this category are ones that will hopefully enrapture the imaginations of kids. If they do so successfully, you’ll notice a few things: 1) they’ll start dressing like heroes and re-enacting key battles, 2) their Christmas lists will include items such as underground command fortresses, adamantium claws, smoke bombs, night-vision goggles, and grappling guns, 3) they’ll read one comic about their favorite superhero and never get enough, 4) they’ll turn 30 and spend most nights on message boards bitching about the failings of the latest movie adaptation, 5) they’ll never miss a comic con.

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