Comic books. Once a laughing stock of the journalistic world, now a multi-billion dollar powerhouse of cinema glory. From the moment Stan Lee put his fingers to the typewriter, these child oriented cartoons have been the calling card for nerds and geeks the world over. Their humble beginnings have grown into the pinnacle of pop-culture and the most highly anticipated movies in recent history.
For the past few decades, we were teased with comic book renditions of movies that shocked and awed the masses of nerds across the country. We got the first real taste of our heroes on the big screen with Christoper Reeve’s 1978 Superman. After our sense of good and right had sunk into our hearts by America’s golden boy, we were then introduced to the darker side of justice with Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Both of which spawned multiple sequels that sadly ended with poor reviews and the unfortunate demise of comic book movies for several years. It wouldn’t be until 2000 when comic book fans hearts were reignited with the release of X-Men. The first team movie to be released and the spark that would light the comic book fire under movie executives for the following decades.
With the success of X-Men and its future sequels and spin-offs, Hollywood was forced to rethink their previously abandoned comic book well of material. Other movies began popping up with other characters to help spread the seeds of heroes. Movies like Daredevil and the hugely successful (and recently rebooted) Spider-man trilogy pulled new fans to the genre and drove box office sales sky high.
Now we enter the age we live in now. The age of the Marvel Universe and the newly developing DC Universe as well. We have seen The Avengers and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy explode onto the movie screens and set new records all across the boards. They have become larger than any old school comic book fan could have ever imagined, and all within just a few years. But how many times can these characters come on to the big screen and still be as powerful and fresh as they are now? Comic book movies have endless wells of stories and characters to draw from and could theoretically make movie versions of these tales for almost the rest of time. But in all reality, could we really expect these actors to devote the rest of their careers to the dedication of just one character?
Men like Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman have already played the same characters now five or more times and the demands are still pouring in. Jackman has even stated that he is wanting to see his X-Men universe merge with that of The Amazing Spider-man and The Avengers. But how much more can we as an audience really expect from these great performers? How many times will Hugh Jackman be able to extend his adamantium claws and release his inner animal? How many times can Robert Downey Jr. put on the suit and fight alongside his Marvel comrades? These people cannot do this forever and we will have to come to terms with the two possible outcomes of these mammoths of cinema.
The first option is that they are going to have to set a limit and an end to an individual series or universe and find a way to draw everything to an epic conclusion. This will be a way to end this era of movies and bring closure to all the fans of these huge icons of pop culture. But in doing so, they run the risk of never knowing when to quit or how to end it all. Things can always go wrong with this as well. Such as actors leaving or passing away, or executives cutting budgets or funds for films. No one can ever know what could happen. The other option they can take into consideration would be to keep these films going for as long as they see fit. To turn these two universes into their own version of the James Bond films. With new stories and new actors stepping in every now and then, they can constantly evolve the series and continue to milk the profits for as long as they are there. Also, this gives them the opportunity to do individual movies on individual stories in the comic universes that don’t necessarily tie into the other films. This runs the large risk, however, of things becoming old and dated. People will not be as drawn to these as they once were, and there will never be as much hype about a movie as there could have been in the first option.
There is no real way of telling what the outcome will be for the future of these films. We could be stuck right in the middle of a journey with them or we could be on a never ending train that will go on long after we’re gone. With the infinite possibilities for stories we could be in for one of the longest rides in cinema history. But until we know any different, my guess is we just hang on and enjoy the amazing works of art we are being given by the wonderful minds at Marvel and DC.