“Holy celluloid, Batman! There’s so much pressure on these upcoming comic book-to-movie-adaptations! If they fail, could it spell the end of comic movies?” The short answer? No, you’re stupid.
Sure, there are a ton of comic movies coming out in the next two years: in 2011, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Thor, Priest, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cowboys and Aliens, and then, hopefully, The Adventures of Tintin and Dredd by the end of the year. In 2012 we’ll see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Superman, and possibly, The Wolverine, The Flash, and Runaways. It all adds up to a big couple of years for nerds. The pressure IS ON!!!! Oh wait, no it isn’t.
Look, first of all, I have this to say about any fangirls or fanboys out there nervously wringing their hands, worried that, if these movies fail, they won’t ever get to see a movie version of David Lapham’s Silverfish, their beloved Doctor Strange, or BKV’s Y: The Last Man. It would take every single movie on this list to fail and fail MASSIVELY for the studios to completely distrust comic movies. And, that simply won’t happen. There is an incredible and insatiable world-wide appetite for action, sexy people, and special effects. (I’d love to add “compelling story” and “interesting characters” to this list, but hey, that would be a lie). Despite many meaningful differences between comics and movies, I will say that the lazy producers in Hollywood, with dollar signs in their eyes and personal chefs, see comics as pre-packaged money making machines. Why spend all that time cooking the rice, seasoning and grilling the chicken, sautéing the veggies, when you could just go to Trader Joes and buy a bomb-a$$ frozen burrito? Throw that puppy in the oven, drink a beer while it cooks, and twenty minutes later you’ve got a nice buzz going and a hot little burrito just waiting to be covered in salsa and devoured. What could be better? Okay, a small tangent, but the point is there . . . somewhere . . . and it is that people want QUALITY, but before that, they want EASY and PROVEN. Comics offer that. The properties already have numbers attached that demonstrate how successful they can be. They also come in a neat little package, and though there has to be some adaptation for the film and usually the writer(s) will add some stuff, or combine a couple of story lines to justify their paycheck, for the most part comics are seen as intricately detailed, tried-and-true storyboards. It’s an oversimplification of the medium, but it is somewhat accurate and, in a lot of ways, it explains its success.
Next, I’d like to address a common misconception that really annoys me and also adds to the misplaced fear that comics will eventually stop being turned into movies;: comics are a medium not a genre. “Superhero story” is a genre, “Western” is a genre, “Noir” is a genre, “Romantic comedy” is a genre, “Sci-Fi” (not “Syfy”) is a genre; “comics” are a medium. Just look it up in Wikipedia, bi!#h! Countless genres find a home within the medium of comics, and the possibilities for adaptation into movies are equally countless and eternally probable. Saying that we might be witnessing the end of comic book adaptations is like saying we might be witnessing the end of novel adaptions. Stupid. It won’t happen until all the writers in Hollywood start writing original material, all the time . . . hahaha, no, but seriously, give me a call when that happens, 804-555-3067.
And, as completely ridiculous as it is, I will concede that studios MAY, at some point, temporarily wash their hands of a specific genre, say Superheroes, if there are industry wide failings (which there won’t be). It’s no secret that Hollywood operates with this pack mentality (see Avatar and 3-D, or the recent Vampire craze), and I could see them shying away from a specific genre, if they see it as demonstratively not lucrative. But consider this: Superhero movies have a built-in audience, geeks, AS WELL AS a general audience appeal. Though I’m not going to go to all the pains of “Google” searching “skin tight leather super heroes,” I’ll leave the ball in your court (thanks S.J.): prove me wrong that leather-clad heroes fail at the box office. Look at success and failures and you tell me who wins. If you look at the top grossing box office movies of all time (with inflation), there is a clear Marvel and DC presence.
Comics are here. The comic book is a medium that, though people may not realize it yet, has become its own unique and virtuous device. It wins, like Charlie Sheen, and as much as we will continue to mock it and use it, it has power. And… with great power comes great responsibility… Remember that, execs, when you go ahead and find a new director for The Wolverine. Remember that when you cast The Flash. Remember that when you watch what Joss Whedon does with The Avengers. I recall what Edward Norton wrote after he officially wasn’t rehired for a reprisal of his role of the Hulk. Of the Hulk he said, he’s “bigger than all of us.” Remember that and you will know what it means to us, and how to make a successful movie franchise and a sh–load of dough. Ultimately, what we want is a good movie; we’re on your side, producers, just climb aboard and we can do great things together! Now don’t F- it up!