Films based on comics are serious business

08/03/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 2:40 PM

The release of the highly-anticipated “Guardians of the Galaxy” this weekend further shows that we are smack-dab in the golden age of comic book movies.

Already this year, we’ve had “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” And we still have the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot and the “Sin City” sequel (finally) to come.

And there are no signs of slowing down. Next year’s slate includes “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice,” “Ant-Man” and “The Fantastic Four” reboot.

After that, Marvel has already scheduled eight more release dates for films through 2019.

It’s as if studios can’t make these movies fast enough. The sequel to “Guardians of the Galaxy” was greenlighted before the first movie was even released (the sequel will come out in 2017). Ditto for “Amazing Spider-Man 3” (to be released in 2018). Part 4 is already in the works as well.

And DC Comics says it has eight more movies planned in its “Justice League” universe.

It all equals big box-office dollars for Hollywood. The combined gross of the top 10 movies based on comics is more than $4 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s a lot of iron, man.

Is it all becoming too much? Are we nearing comic book movie overload? I asked that question in a post on Facebook and started a lively “conversation,” with some thoughtful responses. It seems this target audience is vehemently passionate about their beloved characters, because many grew up with them and connect with them in emotional ways.

Southeast grad Richard Warren said that, growing up, he “loved reading comics because more often than not, the ‘wish’ of becoming something more than I was, was always appealing. The characters were almost human-like in the sense that they were going through the same troubles kids have.”

And that comes down to telling a good story.

“Comic books offer Hollywood a gold mine of amazing stories and characters that explore a wide range of genres and themes,” commented Wichita artist Dustin Parker. “Not just superhero fare like ‘The Avengers’ or ‘Superman.’ There are tons of great films based on nonsuperhero comic book properties.”

Local musician James Dean says these movies may have naysayers but that the genre is still developing.

“There are fun comic book adaptations from titles designed for high sales that will always be just that: for fun. Still, there are others that have transcended the medium and become true works of art in their own right,” Dean said.

And perhaps that’s why these films are successful. When Hollywood gets it right, fans follow. It is a business, after all.

DC Comics is certainly hoping to get in on the action. Many feel it is following the strategy set up by Marvel.

“They would never attempt to do a ‘Justice League’ movie without the success of ‘The Avengers,’ ” said local filmmaker Ian Blume. “Marvel takes chances and makes interesting movies, almost every move they make is met with skepticism, and yet they have succeeded almost every single time.”

Perhaps that’s because it had fans making the movies, Parker said, “rather than executives who don't value or understand the source material.”

As for me? I’ll see you in the line for “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Part 4.

About Movie Maniac

The Eagle's Rod Pocowatchit offers his musings on the screen scene.

Reach Rod at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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