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Digital Debate Wednesdays: Will the Comic Book Movie Boom Ever End?

Welcome to a brand new feature on the Ace of Geeks! Every Wednesday, we’ll pose a new geek-centric question for our staff writers and creators to debate for your amusement.

THIS WEEK’S TOPIC:

What is the shelf life on the current superhero movie boom? Will they still be as popular when Infinity War/Justice League makes it to the big screen, or are we coming into the tail end of it even now?

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Alexis George: Uh… is this even up for debate? I mean, how many movies are coming out in the next five years or so? I mean, they’ve realized it’s much better suited for the television format with Jessica Jones and the DC CW boom, but still…

Nick Bailey Jr: The (good) movies are getting more buzz now, than ever. If the quality remains, they will keep making movies and money.

James Paul Lucky: At their core they are basically Action movies or Dramas. Do you see those going away any time… ever? As long as the writing and performances are quality they are as viable as any other form of media.

Katrina Smith: Superhero stories are experiencing a renaissance because we need them. Some troubling parallels when you start thinking about the impact WWII (and the pre-war unrest) had on the golden age of comics– and the global moment we’re in now, with the comparable moment of triumph superhero stories are experiencing on screen.

Malkontent Blizzard: I think the biggest weakness of the genre is trying to figure out how close a static piece of art…the movie…should hew to a dynamic one…the comics.

Ellie Collins: I think by the time we get to Infinity War the COMMERCIAL success will be dying, but the fans are getting more rabid as the storylines get more intricate. So I think the fair weather will fall away, and the ones that stay will be monetarily dedicated.

David Losey: I’m getting a little tired of them. I’m only interested in Deadpool going forward. I think marvel’s move into netflix is great, and I’m going to check out arrow and flash to see what I think of them. As for films, I’m thinking wide commercial success will slow post civil war while dawn of justice will flop. Then again, in not hugely into comics so what do I know.

Jarys Maragopolous: Well, the first was in the late 90’s, early 0ughts, right? So it’s been around for 15 years at this point. For a movie genre, that’s not small. Not exemplary, but not small.


I would say the shelf life is probably close to split between “going for legendary” and “crashing soon. The thing about crashing, too, is that it won’t be quick and no one film will cause it. 15 years, a stretch that size would take a few years to collapse. So as long as Superhero movies keep drawing audiences, please thier fans, innovative and influence one another, we know they still have years left in them.

Good years, too, If they anything are like these last ones.

Mark Foo: The way I see it, Marvel will be making movies for years to come that will be well liked even if they’re not all masterpieces.

It’s WB that is more doubtful to me. They have yet to master the ability to make more than one type of movie. There’s definitely an audience for their brand of “Dark Knight but with… X” but is that sustainable?

Outside of those two, as long as film studios are looking for known quantities to adapt, they’ll keep mining comics. The fact that people as varied as Fraction and DeConnick or Bendis or Millar are getting development deals for their indie work shows that Hollywood is seeing more than just the superhero stuff, and that’s good for everyone.

David Losey: I’m inclined to show more interest with some indie projects from Image or Dark Horse. Possibly Peter Panzerfaust, or a collection of shorts based around Fable.

Nick Bailey Jr: Look at the merchandise, cartoons, etc. The future movie patrons are growing up on it the same as us. The cycle will continue.

Raven Knighte: My concern is that in continuing this trend, we as comic book superhero fans will lose canon. Already, some stories and/or characters have been retconned by the comic book writers/execs themselves in the quest for original stories. I can see a point in time coming where we will have superhero movies that take the character completely out of the comic book for a story that has absolutely no connection to the character’s history in ink – and possibly whole new canon from the comics – same character, same costume but different origin and different stories. I realize that things need to evolve to grow, but why not just either have a hero pass the torch… or just create a new hero with their own stories?

Ben Lee: I think one of the more significant points is that no one has really made a massive web of interconnected superhero/comic movies (and TV series) like Marvel has before, so it’s harder to say. It’s not exactly the old Superman film serials, no, but it’s a long story — really, though, even if you didn’t need it to understand the movie, The Avengers was based on the premise of understanding characters from FOUR different movie franchises in five movies before it (loosely, but, still). As a poor movie historian, I can’t say that’s unprecedented, but in the modern era of smash-bang-blockbusters, it’s certainly incredibly uncommon and difficult to do well.

No, DC doesn’t enter this discussion, because we’re not -really- talking about television (and maybe that’s a tangent for another week.)

Raven, as someone who loves him his comics very much, if you’re a Marvel fan, continuity has a habit of quietly retconning itself in the background (which war Ben Grimm and Reed Richards were vets in) or quietly shuffling itself around (Battleworld), though I’d agree characters like Nick Fury Jr. and Phil Coulson do absolutely show a trend towards making some adjustments and merging some things.

I’d argue the Ultimate universe already was an experiment in testing new canon, and I’m still of the opinion that the MCU treads the line that goes down the middle of the canon 616 and the Ultimate universes.

In DC, of course, continuity has this awkward habit of getting put into a bucket and thrown out of someone’s twentieth-story window every two to ten years or so, so while I cling to my old favorites (the old Teen Titans, for example) like…half of that stuff has been wiped out at least four crises ago.

I get it, but (personally) I’m not willing to protect it. If a few of the awesome things from the movies creep into some of the awesome things about the comics — and potentially bring some more people into this fun thing we read — these awesome serial stories that happen more often than once or twice a year will still and probably always be a different read than watching a movie, no matter how good their shared universe gets.

/quietly sneaks back out post-word-vomit

Raven Knighte: Those are really good points, Ben. I’m one of those old folk who do the whole “remember when…” thing, though, and when I go back to an old favorite storyline to find that it’s been changed and my favorite elements no longer apply, it makes me question my memory in general.

Ben Lee: Understandable, Raven. Fear not, DC is here to suddenly retroactively return damn near everything you liked back into storyline at some point in 2014-15-16, because that’s 100% less confusing for those of us that have read through multiple universe-altering events!

Raven Knighte: DC does love its retcon.
David Losey: Another point is that Hollywood works on a trend and tends to drive ideas into the ground. Right now we have Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and the grand daddy of them all, Star Trek leading the connected universe race. I think Wars & Trek have the staying power. Though Disney could over saturate the market with Star Wars the same way they did in the mid to late 90’s and early 2000’s with crappy sequels of Aladdin, Lion King, and the like that ended up going straight to DVD until John Lasseter righted the ship.

Also Star Wars and Star Trek are infinite and easy universes to mold around new characters. Marvel and DC have to worry about their characters aging. Case in point, Hugh Jackman doesn’t really want to play Wolverine anymore. Who do you replace him with? You could always kill him off and bring in X23 but it’s a bigger risk than crafting a new Trek or Wars film.

David Losey: Yes. But can you do that with Iron Man or some of the other X-Men?

Raven Knighte: Iron Man can hand off to Rhodie (War Machine). The Generation X crowd (Jubilee, Husk, Chamber, Gaia, M, Penance, Skin and Synch) can carry on after the X-Men. Spiderman hands off to Silk. There are ways.

Colin Carlisle: I feel that the stories are fast approaching the point that the average consumer is being, unintentionally, phased out as the target audience. I completely agree with Jarys that even if it starts to implode, it will take years before the studio gives up the ghost of its cash cow. In regards to retcon, I’ve only ever owned one print comic which leaves me seeing a character or easter egg, then spending x amount of time in a wiki hole reading about histories and teams and races. Obviously I’m not alone in this, since the dc and marvel encyclopedias are reprinting and circulating again. I had other thoughts, but I lost the train of thought they were on during an unrelated conversation irl. If it comes back I’ll post them.
Mike Fatum
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Referred to as a God Among Men, the Greatest Man that Ever Lived, and That Dude Over There…No, The Dude with the Long Hair and the Goatee…Yes, That Guy, Mike has grown up being known and loved around his apartment. In addition to being a successful film director and editor, he loves video games, movies, comic books, board games, and his wife and cat. He’s been friends with Jarys for over a decade now, and they started hosting a radio show together on college that became the genesis for the Ace of Geeks Podcast. When he realized he had so many talented friends who could write, the Podcast became an entertainment website, and here we are.

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