ComiConverse Expert Contributor.
Many comic book fans, DC and Marvel alike, tend to always find a silver lining in movies that are generally considered to be a “flop”. Our Joseph Gioeli plays Devil’s Advocate and poses the question: “Are comic book movies testing fan’s loyalty and optimism?”
Comic Book Movies: Are They Testing Fans?
We may not be in the Golden Age of comic books, but we are certainly living in the Golden Age of comic book adaptation movies. Between 2000-2016, Marvel and DC averaged over 3 movie releases per year, and since the beginning of this decade, they have averaged 4 films per year. With the annual average growing, and only set to continue on this path, the studios know that not every film is going to be a Dark Knight-level blockbuster, but does that mean that they should just strive to not fail?
Across every comic book publishing company, and every production company, there have been “flops” – or movies that critics and/or fans did not like and that, in all likelihood, did not do well at the box office. Conversely, every production company has had incredible blockbuster success that revitalizes the comic book franchise as well as the company. And there lies the question at hand. Are these comic book movies – more specifically, their creators – resting on the fact that even if they make a “bad” movie, loyal comic book fans, at very minimum, will still flock to it?
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My answer to that: Yes.
If you look at the major comic book film distribution companies – 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture – they have all had at least one major “flop” on some level and one phenomenal success story.
For 20th Century Fox, they faltered badly on X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) on almost every level. They also had a mild swing-and-a-miss scenario with X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and their portrayal of the Phoenix Saga. Although, to balance those, 20th Century Fox has released cinematic masterpieces such as X2: X-Men United (2003), Deadpool (2016), and more recently, Logan (2017).
In Warner Brother’s case, many believe they are in an uncontrollable downward spiral of terrible films; among them, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and Suicide Squad (2016) – basically anything within the DC Extended Universe, but that’s a story for a different time. Opposing what many see as “the demise of Batman” by Warner Brothers and Ben Affleck, they are also responsible for arguably the greatest comic book film of all time in The Dark Knight (2008).
Finally, with Walt Disney, to the surprise of few, they have not had a monumental fallout with films to this point, although they did stumble a bit on the Thor sequel, Thor: The Dark World (2013). In true MCU fashion though, nearly every other film they have released under this production company has been wildly successful; highlighted by Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and The Avengers (2012).
Coming back to the original question at hand, even after a poor, or in some cases, disastrous film premiere, we always seem to find ourselves excited and waiting in line for the next film release.
Even after a disappointing venture by X-Men Origins, loyal fans were still ready for the rest of the franchise. The payoff was worth the disappointment though, with film releases like The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the aforementioned Logan.
So where do we as loyal comic book fans, stand in the eyes of the major film production companies?
Truly, I believe we are their bread and butter. The majority of people seeing these movies did not grow up around comic books and are not putting as much hope and optimism into these films as we are. These companies know that even if they botch a storyline or poorly cast a character, we will always be there to hold them up.
Does this mean we should boycott comic book movies altogether?
We should be embracing the Dark Knight’s, the Deadpool’s and the Guardians of the Galaxy’s in hopes of consistent film quality on that level.
In that case, everybody wins.
Joseph Gioeli is a contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @joegioeli