Tag Archives: Comics

The Success and Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel

For the past 10 years Marvel has been able to create success by producing twenty movies that fans have fallen in love over. How has Marvel managed to keep the attention of moviegoers through the span of movies, and how have they been more successful than other movie companies? According to the director of Captain America Civil War and Winter Soldier it is simple, “They don’t have Kevin Fiege.”

There is more that helps point us to how Marvel has been so successful. For starters, Marvel constantly puts out good movies. The consistent quality over the course of these past ten years has been impressive. There is no true standout “bad” movie in this series of movies. Kevin Fiege, who oversees the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, does a very good job of planning most of the movies almost three years in advance of their release.

According to Paul Bettany, who voiced Jarvis and played the character of Vision in a handful of the Marvel movies, “The movies are made by fans…Their love for these stories is really infectious and you become really invested, and there’s a lot of invested people beyond the financials of it all.”

On top of that they have been able to connect every movie together in a 20-movie series! The interconnection of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is something that no other movie franchise has done successfully or even tried. In an article written by Peter Suderman over at Vox.com, he talks about how the connection is almost like the MCU is more like a serialized television show than a collection of marginally related movies. Each movie is just another piece of a television series except they are released 6 months apart and are two hours long.

Now all of this is great and all, but what happens when so many of the actors that play major roles in the movies leave the company. The MCU was originally built off the three characters of Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man and all three have contracts with Marvel ending in the next couple of years. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth all have talked about how Avengers 4 may be their last movies in the MCU. There have been rumors about Chris Hemsworth doing one last Thor movie and Chris Evans has stated he is open for a contract renegotiation with Marvel but nothing is set in stone. On top of that Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris Pratt (Star Lord), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), and Samuel L. Jackson all have just one or two movies left on their contract.

Marvel

If all of these characters end up leaving what does that mean for the franchise? They have to try and get fans to fall in love with the new characters like they did with Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. The new characters need to be memorable and Marvel already started to do this with the characters of Spiderman, Black Panther, and to some extent Ant-Man.

Moving forward with Avengers 4, the next movie that is supposed to explain everything from the tragic ending of Avengers Infinity War. (SPOILERS AHEAD THROUGH INFINITY WAR!) With characters like Spiderman and Black Panther turning to dust in the final scenes, fans are eager to see what will happen and how these characters might come back. We can assume all of the characters who died will return due to their future releases of sequels in the coming years. Many fans speculate that Captain Marvel, whose beacon is seen at the end of Avengers Infinity War is a huge key to what will happen.

Marvel

Also, a theory has been floating around about quantum realms and time travel thanks to the recent Ant-Man movie. However, with no trailer released yet, we will all just have to wait and see what crazy spin Marvel will throw at us next.

-Brandon Haraldson

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Failure – The Ongoing Struggle of DC Comics in Film

Cinematic universes. The goldmine idea of having crossover movies that Marvel Studios has taped to create a film empire that other film studios try to replicate. While many cinematic universe projects like Universal’s Dark Universe or Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man usually fail and fizzle out after two movies, Warner Bros and the DC Comics superhero films have held on, for better or worse.

After a failed first attempt in 2011 with Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern, Warner Bros decided to try again with cinematic universes in 2013 with the Superman film Man of Steel. This film would mark a new era of DC Comics films after Christopher Nolan’s beloved Batman trilogy came to an end. This universe was to be carried by the vision of director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), and producer Charles Roven. 

DC Comics Man of Steel starred Henry Cavill  and was released to moderate success, making roughly over $600, and being generally accepted by viewers and critics. Warner Brothers then announced a sequel featuring a new Batman portrayed by Ben Affleck would be released along with an entire slate of movies featuring projects like The Flash and Justice League sequels.

In 2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released and critically panned, with audiences and critics not enjoying the dark and grittier tone of the movie compared to the competing Marvel films. Suicide Squad also released to more critically panned reviews. Regular audience viewers were more approving of the film however, pushing the film to make over $700 million dollars (surprisingly making more than Man of Steel and almost matching Batman v Superman). This would set in motion the deep changes that were to come for the DC universe.

Wonder Woman, seeming now like lightning in a bottle, leapt into the box office and did extremely well, being loved by both fans and critics. It was hopeful, optimistic, fun, and wasn’t trying hard to build a franchise. Suddenly, the dark and gritty vision of the Justice League that Zack Snyder had started filming was looking problematic. During this time, Charles Roven left his position of looking over the DC films and instead handed the reins over to comic book writer Geoff Johns and producer Jon Berg.

DC Comics

The success of Wonder Woman and audience response to Suicide Squad split DC into a couple different directions. Films not previously announced on the film slate were announced left and right, mainly focusing on different Harley Quinn spin offs. Other projects, like The Flash, were suddenly trapped in production hell, as rumors of actors like Ben Affleck wanting to leave the franchise grew amongst other studio meddling stories. Zack Snyder while working on Justice League was suddenly replaced by Avengers director Joss Whedon. This move on Warner Bros part was likely to infuse the light and hopefulness that Marvel films and Wonder Woman were able to provide.

Justice League was released to negative reviews and numerous controversies and stories, ranging from Henry Cavill having a CGI mouth due to reshooting with a mustache and entire important chunks of film being removed due to a Warner Bros mandate to keep the film under 2 hours. It was also the lowest grossing box office film of any DC film so far in the series. This heavy blow began another restructure of DC, with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns leaving their roles, and being replaced by Walter Hamada.

Currently, DC films is different. Superman star Henry Cavill has recently left the role, and Ben Affleck’s part as Batman is up in the air. All DC projects are to be lighter and hopeful. They also are creating solo films that aren’t connected, differing from Marvel. Personally, as a huge fan of the initial film Man of Steel and these characters in general, it’s sad to see everything fall apart. I followed these films religiously, but have become numb to the idea of them being anything great. What do you think? Should Warner Bros have continued to try and build up this franchise, or should they have found their own avenue?

-Tarrell Christie

Comic Books Breathe New Life into Old Stories

We’ve all had it happen to us. We get invested deeply in a TV show, maybe for a season, or maybe for many seasons.  And then one day we get the terrible new that our favorite show has been cancelled. The problem is, some of us aren’t finished enjoy it. Some producers are finding a new way to keep their shows alive in a surprising way…through comic books. Many series have already taken to this trend.

Superman

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Smallville are two great examples of television shows that lasted for many years, but when they were done, fans still wanted more. Luckily for them, there were still plenty of stories to tell in those universes, and comic books provided a low-risk environment to continue the story for the fans who couldn’t get enough. Media producers usually want to keep their franchise alive just as much as we want to see them continue. They have poured their heart and soul into their shows and worked very hard to deliver them to us. Whether it is a television show, a movie, or even a video game, comics can be a great way to continue the story for all of us who aren’t done with it yet.

buffyThe problem starts when the studios and networks no longer wish to support the show. Comics allow for these deserving series to have a proper continuation. For producers this could be a far safer bet than continuing to produce a television show that is not going to be successful any longer. If the comic afterlife is a success, then everyone is happy. The fans get more story, and the producers make a profit. However, if comic continuation looks to be a dud, it is not nearly as hard of a hit to take. The general costs of making a comic are $40-$120 a page for a Penciler, $20-$80 per page for an Inker, $20-$50 per page for a Colorist, and $5-$20 for a Letterer per page. Even when you add in the costs of writing talent this still adds up to be far less of an investment than a single episode produced for a television network.

Comic books allows for things that are not always possible on camera. In the world of television production, actors can have budget disputes, be fired, quit, or even pass away. With comics, as long as the permission is given for the likeness to be used, the “on-screen” talent can be immortal. They can have cameos, or their characters can last for much longer than their contract would originally allow for. And drawings never ask for raises! Take a look at Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Dark Empire. This was a comic series produced in the 90s, and on the page the actors look as they did while filming Return of the Jedi, when in reality they have all visibly aged.

Batman

Video games are another medium where comics can perfectly add on to. No matter how much replay value a game has, at some point you run out of story. If the game is good enough, fans will want more. Games such as Batman: Arkham City, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution are both deep story-based games that have engaging plots that have left audiences wanting more. Enter DC Comics, which took both of these titles and made comic books based on the games, and released them about six months after the game’s initial launch. The comic book series Arkham Unhinged is a whole new set of stories that continue where Arkham City left off. Two years after Arkham City, and monthly issues of Batman: Arkham Unhinged are still being produced in monthly installments.

In short, I believe more producers should look to the comic book medium as a way to continue their franchise. It is less of a financial risk, and it is in a medium that is still thriving. Comics can immortalize characters and talent and continue to deliver engaging stories to fans. The stories can continue, and we can keep getting the stories we want and deserve. Do you think more franchises will get a reboot in comics? What would you like to see re-imagined in the panels of a comic book?

– Kyle Hogan

Violence in Media: How Comic Books Faced the Fire First!

Recently, video games have faced an onslaught of critics denouncing the industry’s development of violent video games like the Grand Theft Auto or Gears of War franchises. In a recent Supreme Court Decision, Brown vs. EMA (Entertainment Merchants Association), the court upheld that California’s law to prohibit the sale of violent games to children under 18 was unconstitutional.

The majority opinion written by Justice Scalia compares the current video game argument to that of comics fifty years earlier. Justice Scalia writes:

The crusade against comic books was led by a psychiatrist, Frederic Wertham, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that ‘as long as the crime comic books industry exists in its present forms there are no secure homes.’ Wertham’s objections extended even to Superman comics, which he described as “particularly injurious to the ethical development of children. But efforts to convince Congress to restrict comic books failed.

Here is the historical context of Scalia’s statement. In 1954 Dr Frederic Wertham published the book, Seduction of the Innocent, which correlated reading violent depictions in comics with juvenile delinquency. Seduction was the capstone to Wertham’s attack on comics, and in 1955 a US Senate hearing was held to argue the validity of Wertham’s findings.

The Senate concluded that the comics industry should create a regulating body that identified violent content. To avoid government censorship, the industry reacted by creating the Comics Authority Code.

After the adoption of the code, the debate fizzled with the last comic book burning. That’s right folks! Here. In the United States. American Citizens were burning books. But I digress…

The code was implemented, like those of the MPAA or the ESRB, by affixing a stamp of approval on the comic, deeming the book appropriate for all readers. The difference between the Comics Authority Code and other media regulating bodies was that if a publisher, writer, or illustrator did not follow the guidelines, the comic in question was doomed to fail.

By the mid-1980’s, creators began combating the code by completely ignoring the guidelines and as a result redefined the industry. The Code has since died out completely, and publishers have created other rating systems.

As the debate over violence in media continues keep in mind that it is not a new phenomenon. The comics industry took its licks way before video games, and I would wager that the video game industry will thrive similarly to its comic book forefather.

– Jason Allen

The Year of The Superhero Flick

This year seems to be the year of comic book superhero movies, and I of all people am not complaining.  This trend does not seem like it is going to let up in the next couple years with movies that will intertwine and tangle with each other to form sequels upon sequels.  Take for example all of the Marvel comic movies that have came out recently such as The Hulk and Iron Man.  At then very end of these movies after the credits comes an Easter egg of the next upcoming movies to be released and the eggs at the end of those movies were for Thor and Captain America who are all ironically part of the Avengers.

All these movies are leading up to a grand finale where they can put all of these action hero’s into a movie together.  Same thing with the X-Men franchise after the first three came out they stared to do X-Men Origins Wolverine, which is expecting another film in the next year or so.  Now, X-Men First Class in coming out in June, which is basically the story of Magneto as a teenager and Charles Xavier, better known as Professor X.  The creators are also talking about doing  X-Men Origins on not only Wolverine, but for some of the other main characters from the group.  Oh yes, and did I mention that all four of these movies are coming out in the next two and a half months?  So needless to say, the box office should be pretty interesting in the upcoming couple months.

– Steve Marksteiner –

 

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