The Future of Superhero Films
After the enormous success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe films (Avengers, Iron Man etc) and Nolan’s Batman series, comic book movies have now proven themselves not only as a great source of revenue, but also being of genuine artistic worth. Now that the most well known superheroes have been used, has the genre already peaked?
Nolan redefined the superhero genre, showing the depth and humanity of the man in the cape and cowl. Gone was the camp crusader of the 90′s, with Batman & Robin being one of, if not the worst superhero film’s of all time, most notably in one scene where Batman brandishes a Batman-branded credit card, and the declaration that he ‘never leaves the Batcave without it.’ The Dark Knight Rises inclusion of Catwoman eradicated Warner’s abysmal outing, replacing the Wrestlemania-ready ‘brought back to life by a cat’ vision and instead alluded towards Bob Kane’s original creation of a mysterious burglar and jewel thief. This is where DC has truly succeeded, realising the importance of character exploration. Next summer marks the return of Superman, with DC undoubtedly hoping that they can build a new critical and commercial reboot which can go one of two ways:
1) A second attempt-Hulk like flop, similarly to the Brandon Routh failed reboot just a few years ago.
2) Nolan’s successful in presenting Superman in a modern context, leading to universal critical acclaim and a sizable box office performance, paving the way for future DC films.
DC will be hoping that the latter is the case, with a Justice League film in the pipeline with a 2014 release date being considered, any chance of getting the green light will almost certainly be riding on the success of Superman. One big problem with such an intended release date is bringing Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern together without the stable support of individual lead in films as Marvel achieved so well with The Avengers. Zach Snyder has said that Henry Cavill’s Superman won’t be part of Justice League, which will ‘have it’s own Superman and Batman.’ With no foundations being built prior to its potential release, it’s hard to see a Justice League film performing anywhere near as well as The Avengers.
With a Hulk TV series in the pipeline, could this be the next step for superheroes? Going from the big screen to the small screen allows for much more character exploration than any 2 hour film would allow. With Marvel ever-expanding its Universe, TV series could easily strengthen any future films with cameos to keep the Universe a constant.
The Avengers and the five films that lead into it—both Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor have earned Marvel Entertainment almost $4 billion dollars, making it the fourth-highest-grossing film franchise of all time. With the announcement that Avengers 2 is due for a 2015 release date, and sequels to Thor, Iron Man and Captain America due prior to this, as well as a new entry based on Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s hard to imagine Marvel not making a ton of money from these films. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is building an insular world that can hold any number of heroes and story arcs, and the more success it’s current franchises gain, the more likely they are to transfer lesser known comic book heroes to screen. Reboots are inevitable, regardless of whether a film performs well or not, allowing for fresh vision as proven with The Amazing Spiderman. With the Superman insignia being just as recognisable as the American flag, there will always be a place for reboots whether it be on TV or the big screen, it’s just a matter of when.