Monday, 6 January 2014

Masks, Capes and Bloody Fists. (Let's Talk Superheroes)

Iron Man vs. Thor from 2012's Avengers Assemble
I have said on numerous occasions that over the past few years Cinema has been experiencing a kind of Superhero Renaissance with more comic book heroes making the leap to the big screen than ever before as characters such as Ghost Rider, Iron Man, The Green Lantern and Thor  finally being given their own standalone movies with even more characters such as The Guardians of the Galaxy set to join them later in the year and The Antman set to be  released in 2015, while the reception of these new adaptations has largely varied with The Green Lantern and Ghost Rider (and its sequel) being particularly criticized while less know characters like Iron Man have gone on to gain massive financial and critical acclaim, effectively became the figure head character for Marvel's Phase One series of movies.

As cinema goers are being introduced to new characters old classics that they know and love are being rebooted and re-imagined with 2012's 'The Amazing Spider-Man' relaunching the beloved web swingers story with a second installment set for release later this year, Man of Steel giving a new lease of life to Superman with its sequel set to reveal a new adaption of Batman after the completion of Christopher Nolan's ground breaking Dark Knight Trilogy which it's self rebooted Burton's and Schumacher's movies

As I previously mentioned in my Iron Man 3 Review the two major forces responsible for the revitalization and current sate of the superhero genre can be attributed to the Iron Man movies and The Dark Knight Trilogy for where The Dark Knight Trilogy showed that Super Hero movies could be tackled with the same drama and emotion as any other genre, Iron Man taught us that Super Hero films could be fun, light hearted movies again.

The Amazing Spiderman
There is no arguing with the fact that Superheroes are more popular than ever and while more and more make it to the screen the most recent development in the genre  is how the individual worlds of these characters have begun to overlap allowing for franchise crossovers with the first major example released being Marvel's 2012 Avengers Assemble (or The Avengers depending on continent) which was a massive movie success, this should really come as no surprise do to the effort that was put into making the film, looking as far back as 2008 when Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk subtly (at first) began to acknowledge one another with tiny (at first) references it caused a massive stir of excitement amongst  audiences but Marvel Studios knew the need to establish the characters as individuals before establishing them as a team so that by the time that the Avengers finally 'Assembled' we already had a clear idea of everything we needed to know about them and their world, it took five films and four years to reach this stage.

While both The Amazing Spiderman and the X-Men expand their own borders with Spiderman having multiple sequels planned as well as two spin-offs revolving around the characters of Venom and The Sinister Six panned and X-Men set to unite both current and prequel movie streams with Days of Future Past released later this year and another movie X-Men Apocalypse set to follow it.  

Iron Man 3
Girl Power. (The Gap In The Superhero Market)
There is still one area of the Superhero Market that remains completely untapped and that is a standalone film starring a female superhero, it seems strange that this has only really been attempted once in recent years with 2005's Daredevil spin off Electra but unfortunately Electra's first and only solo outing met with a largely negative reception (also Catwoman: But the less said about that disaster the better), even so as Marvel's Phase 2 blazes forward they still haven't managed to launch their own Avengers branching female lead (with  Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow providing the female presence for most of Phase 1 & 2 in a supporting role) and so this is one area at least where DC can really begin to regain ground from Marvel as DC showcases arguably the most iconic female hero of them all Wonder Woman.

Man of Steel.
Flesh and Bone vs. A Man of Steel. (DC Stirs) 
Being completely honest I have never found Superman to be a compelling character, I have always found him to be bland overpowered and most of all boring which may go to explain why i was so dubious about going to see the newest Superman adaptation Man of Steel but after much persuasion I relented, took to the cinema to watch it  and to my own surprise thoroughly enjoyed it. Not that it didn't have its flaws (The narrative style was to close that of Batman Begins and the level of destruction during the final showdown between Superman and Zod  is beyond ridiculous) but the film succeeded in making Superman interesting which in itself no easy feat.

As Man of Steel serves as DC's first step towards an eventual Justice League crossover movie but rather than follow Marvel's approach of using standalone installments to establish each and every character individually before throwing them together DC is taking a much more immediate approach with the sequel to Man of Steel seemingly being a Batman vs. Superman film that will also feature The Green Lantern John Stewart and Wonder Woman.

Warner Brothers want Avengers level cross marketing and the want it now. But at what cost?
One of the major contributors towards The Avengers success is that the film required little to no actual set up as audiences will already  be familiar with the movies heroes, their individual worlds, their strengths and weakness, the villain having been introduced previously  means that the audience is already aware of his power, motives and goals and the means through which he aims to achieve them (the Tesseract) already having had its origin and power explored previously,

It's not that i don't believe that a Justice League movie could succeed, the film easily has the same potential that the Avengers held but DC needs to get its house in order first: Superman may be rebooted and ready to roll but movie goers only just saw the conclusion of the best Batman trilogy to grace the big screen and even though these films may have been one of the largest contributing factors to the aforementioned renaissance it's conclusion and overall tone of the trilogy in general (Which adopted a realistic stance on the caped crusader) has required the character to once again be rebooted to bring the version of the character back in line with the more fantastical elements that other heroes bring to the screen meaning that audience will once again have to familiarize themselves with a new version of the character and what makes him unique compared to previous versions. 

The Dark Knight
While Green Lantern's previously poorly received installment will see it ignored as part of the JL movies cannon and if plans go ahead to introduce John Stewart rather than Hal Jordan this new character will require introduction as well as characters like The Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Hawkman (To be honest I'm not entirely sure of JL's major character line up beyond Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman: Which oddly is kind of my point) 
 who have never been featured in a live-action film before and Wonder Woman will also require re-introducing due to her long absence from the screen.  

The characters need and deserve to have the proper time focused on allowing them to be developed into actual characters before a Justice League movie can even be considered as this will be the difference between the film featuring a roomful of DC most iconic character and a roomful of actors in costume.
Needless to say some assembly is required.

Who Guards The Guardians? (Marvel's Phase 2's most dangerous Project)
Guardians of the Galaxy 
Strange as it is to think about it Marvel's Phase 2 will soon be drawing to an end with only Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy set to be released be for Phase 2 reaches it's finale with The Avengers; Age of Ultron and yet before we get to see all our favorite heroes gather once again Marvel is set to debut there most potentially risky film since Kenneth Branagh first took Marvel's cinematic universe away from planet earth with Thor i am of course talking about Guardians of the Galaxy which is the most unique and surreal Marvel Movie to date, but where as in Thor the majority of the film was set on earth and Agent Coulson turned up to give audience a feel for the familiar Guardians will be set away from anything currently explored by Phase 1 or 2 and so will hopefully expand the scope of Marvel's universe even further than Thor did opening up doors for Phase 3 and 4 films. 

What's one more body amongst the foundations? (Conclusions)
So it seems we truly are living in the golden-age of comic book adaptions with more heroes and story-lines being adapted to fill the film going audiences appetites than ever before and as DC prepares to unite its heroes under one roof and Marvel's Avengers, Guardians, X-Men and Web Swinger's worlds continue develop and grow and more and more standalone universes like Kick Ass and Watchmen spring up to help improve the quality of the Superhero genre with each new release The future looks bright indeed.  

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