Comic Book Movies: Is it time to rest?

You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger nerd than me.  I run the gambit of all things geeky.  I love Star Wars, read nothing but Sci-Fi/Fantasy, am a big time gamer, and love my trips to the local comic book store. Typically whenever a comic book movie is announced I’m usually as giddy as a schoolgirl about the prospect.  For a number of years, I was almost alone in this excitement.  For a long time these movie adaptations carried a stigma for being terrible (much like video game movies are too).

Finally, though, something started to change and I think it kicked off with Spider-Man.  Were there other good comic book movies before that?  Sure, but Spider-Man appealed to the masses and it’s sequel became one of the most successful films of all time.  Then we got a great new Batman.  Suddenly the passion for comic book movies was found and Hollywood started pumping out well done movies for the genre.  It’s like the mental block that kept this genre from being great previously, was lifted.

That’s also where the problem began.  Now that filmmakers had figured out a way to make good and enjoyable superhero-based movies, that’s all they wanted to do.  They started to streamline the process to the point where the market is almost being overwhelmed by this genre.  It’s hard to blame the filmmakers though.

There is such a wealth of great comics out there (dating back to the 40s and 30s even), and until recently have been an untapped resource for movies.  Now that audiences are willing and receptive to these films, it’s understandable that one would want to tap into those finely crafted stories.  The problem is, that most of the comic book stories they’re picking are the generic superhero ones that, at their core, are the same story.

This can be boring at times, and since films can’t run as long as comics do the tendency is to show the most exciting (action, explosions, fights, etc.) parts of the story.  What’s lacking is the major character differences, showing their personalities and how each superhero works and operates differently.  What comes out on film is starting to look like a cookie-cutter superhero.

By far, that’s not the norm and audiences have been treated to stand out movies based on comics.  Films like Watchmen, V For Vendetta, Sin City, and The Dark Knight are perfect examples of both fine filmmaking, and great adaptations.  Each film showed the different aspects of each individual character and made them all something we can easily relate to.  It wasn’t the same comic book movie we’ve seen time and time again.

Today, we’re seeing an even greater influx of comic book movies set to hit the market.  We’ve got Green Lantern, Green Hornet, Thor, Captain America, X-Men: First Class, The Avengers, a second 30 Days of Night, and Dead of Night all coming out within the next couple years.  Now there’s talk of a new Flash movie, an Ant-Man film, more X-Men related adventures, and of course they’ve already started working on the next two Green Lanterns.  It’s just too much and it’s flooding the market.

While there is still plenty of great ideas in comics yet to be tapped, I fear that before too long, the general public will lose interest.  They might feel overwhelmed by the shear amount of these films and stop caring.  Then we’ll miss out on the other adaptation possibilities.

These days it seems like Marvel’s entire back catalogue is being put into action for a film, but I say it’s time to slow down.  By no means am I saying that we need to halt all comic book films…just that we need to back off and let audiences breath.  Start using those lesser known comics to generate new ideas and interest, while letting your big franchises rest.  Give people a chance to want another superhero sequel before automatically giving it to them.

I think the genre is far from dead, and can offer us plenty of great films still but if the industry doesn’t try and slow it down it might yet again become solely for a niche audience.  Reading fan blogs and articles on the Internet, it’s easy to see that even fans are growing tired.  In a market where I was once excited about every new movie coming out, I now find myself growing apathetic with each new announcement, and it has to be a title I really care about, before I take notice (like Green Lantern…been wanting to see that for years).