given to me

Published on August 26th, 2019 | by Kevin Given


Given To Me: is the era of comic book movies over?

I grew up watching re-runs of the old George Reeves Superman TV series after that came Adam West’s Batman. Then there was nothing. When TV purged Black and White programming in the ’70s, the black and white episodes of Superman were left behind and, even though the later seasons were filmed in color, for some reason the entire series was left behind and no longer syndicated, the same with Batman, even though the entire series was in color. At least those shows weren’t shown in any capacity where I lived. The Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman would have to fill my cravings for live-action superheroes for the time being.

All I had to fill the void were cartoons for the longest time. I was also an avid reader of Marvel comics and was so hoping that those characters would come to television, or the movie theatre, or both. But alas, I would have to wait until my childhood was almost gone before seeing a Marvel character (The Incredible Hulk) come to live-action. I would thus cast superheroes with actors from that day in my head. My Fantastic Four consisted of Russel Johnson (The Professor from Gilligan’s Island), Vic Morrow (Combat) Tuesday Weld (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) and teen heartthrob Bobby Rydell (Wild One) as Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny, respectively.

You can imagine my delight when the first Christopher Reeve Superman hit the silver screen in 1978. Finally, I thought, here’s a successful superhero film that’s made a lot of money. Surely Spiderman, The Fantastic 4 and The Avengers were soon to follow. Not to mention DC characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, since she had a successful TV show on the air at the time and the Flash. But that wasn’t to be either, at least not in the immediate future. It would take 11 years before they adapted Batman and the only Marvel movies made around that time were low budget fare like Dolph Landgren’s the Punisher and Matt Salinger’s Captain America. Which only barely resembled their comic book counterparts.

Then finally in the late nineties and early two thousands, we would see marvel characters come to the big screen Blade, Spiderman, and the X-Men. This led to the current Superhero renaissance that we now see as big-budget superhero films are released every year, most have some degree of success if they’re faithful to the source material. However, there are some that tank, due to filmmakers ignorance of the source material (Catwoman, Fant4stic and Dark Phoenix to name the lowest end of the totem pole.) Of course, I’m no longer a kid and even though I enjoy these movies today, I would have been so happy to have movies like this when I was in my early teens. I was so thrilled with Superman the Movie that I saw it a dozen times at the box office and it was one of the first movies I ever owned on VHS.

But now, as we approach 2020, we’ve seen the peak of the mountain with the MCU dominating the superhero field, and DC lagging behind. Ironman, Captain American and Thor leading the forefront of today’s superhero movies, which has led to the massive Avengers franchise, which is now over. Yes, I’m sure there will be more Avengers movies, but they won’t be the same. Tony Stark is dead. Steve Rodgers is old, and Thor is fat and can’t deal with the destruction of his homeworld, after all, who could?

Now, there is still hope for Odinson, he can lose weight and snap out of his depression. Cap could always come back and so could Tony since characters die and come back to life all the time in comic books. However, I can’t help but think that if they did bring those characters back cinematically it would feel like cheap cash grabs after the finality of End Game and the movies would not have the same feel anymore. Then there’s Spiderman! Hugely popular with Tom Holland in the lead role, though not the money makers domestically as the Tobey McGuire version of the character, it’s still a come back after the weak box office performances of the Andrew Garfield films. But as of this writing, there’s some question if the next Spiderman film(s) will be part of the MCU since Disney and Sony are not seeing eye to eye. I personally feel that some kind of agreement will be reached. Sony can’t create Spiderman films without Sam Raimi that have the appeal of the MCU version, and I believe they know this. The only hope I believe they have without the MCU involvement is if they were to bring Sam Raimi back and I don’t know if Raimi would come back without the now 40 something Tobey McGuire in the lead role.

Now we’re heading into phase 4 of the MCU and I admit, I’m feeling underwhelmed. The Doctor Strange sequel is going to feature Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. With Kevin Feige promising “Diversity” and pandering to woke politics I’m getting the feeling that Stephen Strange is going to play second fiddle in his own movie. Now, all you SJW’s out there, understand I have nothing against the Scarlet Witch, I love the character and I like Elizabeth Olsen’s take on the character but why doesn’t she get her own stand-alone film? Does Marvel feel that she’s not ready, perhaps? I hope I’m wrong and that Dr. Strange will be the star of his own film, but we’ll see.

Then there’s Thor 4. I was ecstatic to hear of another Thor film, then I found out they’re going to give Mjolnir to Jane Foster, as they recently did in the comics. Again, SJW’s I have nothing against Jane Foster becoming a superhero but for me Odinson is Thor. If someone else is going to wield Mjolnir, then I have no interest in that Thor. I have no problem with him relinquishing the throne to Valkyrie, that would free him up from his kingly duties to go on more adventures. Also, you already have a strong female Asgardian hero in Sif. I loved Jamie Alexander in the role, and I think she could more than carry a feature film as the character. One more thing on that, Natalie Portman seemed to be tired of the role of Jane Foster and doesn’t really want to play the character again. If this is true, then her performance may suffer from her not caring about the character and her just accepting the role because of the money.

Now we’re also promised a Black Widow film. This seems to be about 6 years too little too late as >SPOILER ALERT< she was killed off in End Game. How are we going to get invested in the character, knowing that she will have limited film appearances now that she’s dead? Yes, I know they can bring her back, but I always hated this. One of the things I hate the most about comic books is their propensity to kill off characters and bring them back. I never read the death of Superman and I never will because I knew it was a gimmick and when I saw it happen in Superman/Batman dawn of Justice I knew he’d be back in Justice League which made his death scene null and void, not to mention boring.

Now we come to the Eternals. I’ve never read an Eternals comic in my life and don’t really have any interest in this movie. I know that each time they launched an Eternals comic series it never lasted very long and they should have made this group the TV series that failed and given the Inhumans, which I read all the time, the big-budget film treatment. But, alas, the decisions were made and now, I guess we’ll see.

So far, the only film I have any interest in from phase 4 is Shang-Chi. However, as one commentator brought up (I forget who) this character isn’t a well-known character outside of the marvel universe, so what appeal does he have to the average filmgoer? Even people who don’t read comics have a vague idea who Captain America and Spiderman are. Don’t get me wrong my friends, l want to be optimistic, but I don’t see a lot of big box office receipts in the next two years for marvel films, oh, they’ll probably make money and not do as bad as say, Dark Phoenix at the box office, but don’t look for them to make much more than Apocalypse, whose receipts are lackluster for a marvel based film.

That leaves us with the DCEU. Could this be where Warner Brothers take over the superhero box office? After years of mediocre reviews and box office, they finally seem to be learning from their mistakes and coming into their own with the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman. The later of which is the first superhero film based on a DC character to make over a billion dollars worldwide. Now that Marvel is taking chances with less than stellar characters and pandering to woke politics can DC finally surpass their marvel counterparts and quash the competition? One would think so. But then they cast Robert Pattinson as Batman. Uh…yeah. The most boring vampire to ever grace the silver screen as the Dark Knight. Now, I’m willing to give Pattinson the benefit of the doubt and won’t judge his performance until I actually see it. In his defense, he has stated that he never liked playing Edward Cullen and only did it for the money, so maybe he’ll take the Batman role a bit more seriously and put forth some kind of an effort, but right now, I’m not enthused for the next Batman film.

Outside of sequels to Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Black Panther, I’m not really seeing great box office for Superhero movies in the next couple of years, these words may come back to bite me in the ass, and personally I hope they do, but the landscape is looking bleak on the horizon.

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About the Author

Kevin Given has studied with "Longridge Writers Group" and "Writer's Boot Camp" a speech/communications major from the University of Maine Presque-Isle/Orono sites. He has created the "Karl Vincent Vampire Hunter" franchise which includes 2 novels and 8 comic books. They can be found on amazon, Indyplanet and Kindle. For a limited time you can get digital copies of "Karl Vincent: Vampire hunter" #1 and "Files of Karl Vincent" #1 for free on Indyplanet. Kevin is producing the third novel in the series "Dracula Rising" (working title) and developing "Foul Blood" into comic book form.

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