Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Comic Book Movies: Taking Over the Universe

Here's one I've been wanting to write about for a while now, and what better time than in the new year of progress and commitment! Anyway, now that that self-plug is out of the way...I have never been a huge comic book fan per se (with the exception of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which continued on as a comic book series after the TV show...OH! Next blog post idea has been found), but despite my lack of knowledge of the famous comic books from the sixties-ish era, I have been a huge fan of the films since the first X-Men movie came out in 2000.Granted there were other lesser known comic book movies out before X-Men such as Blade and...well that's all I can think of right now, but I think what really paved the road for the film adaptations was the success of the first Bryan Singer-directed X-Men.Shortly after this strikingly original idea (sarcasm) of taking intellectual comic book properties and turning them into movies because of their pre-existing fan bases, we saw the introduction of a slew of new franchises. Forgive my lack of chronological accuracy here, but the following films came in the wake of X-Men:

Hulk (Marvel)Blade II (Marvel)Spider-Man (Marvel)Daredevil (Marvel)X2: X-Men United (Marvel)Catwoman (DC)Elektra (Marvel)Batman Begins (DC)Spider-Man 2 (Marvel)Fantastic Four (Marvel)The Punisher (Marvel)Blad: Trinity (Marvel)Superman Returns (DC)Ghost Rider (Marvel)Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Marvel)X3: The Last Stand (Marvel)Spider-Man 3 (Marvel)

Now, as you've probably noticed, I only listed the most popular ones that are strictly based on well-known superheroes or superhero groups, but those are the ones I'm really a fan of.The time span of that list from Hulk to Spider-Man 3 was bout 2002-2007.Obviously, the studios decided to do some major ass-kicking of their own by churning out these lucrative properties (emphasis on the word "churn" as several of the aforementioned were pretty horrid).However, it was in 2008 when Marvel Studios decided to step up their game, and quite on the sly I might add.With the not-too-impressive results that came with Hulk, the idea of the "reboot" was introduced with The Incredible Hulk. It wasn't a sequel or a prequel, but more of a re-do entirely. With The Incredible Hulk in particular, though, I do remember them keeping it very vague so hat the audience could leave it up to their own interpretation whether it was a sequel or a stand alone film.I swear these Hollywood hotheads just throw a bunch of mumbo jumbo out at the media wire in hopes of shutting the fans up to stop us from asking questions. Anyway, hot on the Hulk reboot's trail was Iron Man.I remember not getting too hyped up about this one since Iron Man was one of the lesser known good guys...but what a MONSTER success that was! I remember its' opening weekend when it made $100 million in the first three days! Shows how pre-emptive I am.Which is not at all, in case you were wondering.That, my friends, is what got the ball rolling. With the Iron Man characters established and the Hulk characters, well, re-established, Marvel had set into motion Phase One of their Marvel Cinematic Universe movement.Clearly, as you can see from the list above, Marvel had the upper hand on DC well into the game.But what they've done with the culmination of the other films like Thor and Captain America is really unprecedented.And who should they choose to helm this massive undertaking but the "Buffy"-est man himself. Joss Whedon. My creative idol.Naturally, DC has come in with some well-crafted attempts to compete with this idea, i.e. Green Lantern, Man of Steel and the recently announced Batman/Superman movie, but they just don't have the hype and excitement behind them the way Marvel does.What I absolutely love about this whole mega-franchise is the concept of the crossover. In each of the previously mentioned films (Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America), there were "easter eggs" after the credits, thus leaving hints as to what everything was building up to; The Avengers.I've loved crossover storylines for as long as I can remember. Even back when Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo would tag team it up in their Xena/Hercules crossovers. And don't even get me going all fanboy-ish on what would ensue whenever Buffy and Angel would cross paths on their respective TV shows.That'll make the geek inside me drool like Pavlov's dog.As if this wasn't revolutionary enough, last year (2013) saw not only crossovers, but cross-platform crossovers with the TV show Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Wrap your head around that! Okay so it's not that hard to wrap, but there was even a special episode dedicated to the Thor sequel which was released in theaters just weeks before the episode aired. That is some exquisite planning on the development front.Honestly I think this is what made Joss the perfect choice for such an epic project. He has been a master of creating dynamic characters and then meshing their worlds together seamlessly since the beginning. Heck, it's practically what he has built his career on. Now Marvel has moved on to their next endeavor with Phase Two, which includes Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and also introduces a whole new group of superheroes; The Guardians of the Galaxy. I am so excited for where all of this is leading. Not to get too spoilery, for those of you who are sinfully behind on the mythos that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there have been some very tasty easter eggs establishing Phase Two and leading into the Guardians, the first official cast picture of which was just released last week! And which I also posted below for your viewing pleasure...okay mostly mine, but yours too :).Lastly, these films are so NOT just for the geeks, or the closet geeks, even.They are really that well made to have a wide appeal for people of all ages. Kind of like The Hunger Games, but a little less dystopian and depressing (Disclaimer: I also love The Hunger Games).Anyway, do yourself a favor and get caught up before Phase Two hits full force with the release of The Avengers 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy next year!

Full Post

No comments:

Post a Comment