As another year passes, we take a look at the stories that have gone by. Unlike most of the other articles you will read, I’m not going to give you a list of the top selling comics that are out there. If that’s what you want, just Google it and pick one of the thousands of results you’ll get. What I am going to do is take a look at the industry as a whole. If you haven’t noticed, probably because your nose has been stuck inside the pages a good comic, we are in a new golden age of comics, and the ride doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. I want to look at comics and movies in this first installment, followed by a look at Marvel, DC, and the independent publishers.
To start my trip around the industry in 2015, let’s take a look at the phenomenon that comic-book movies have become. While pulp characters in the movies have been around since the serials of the 1940’s, most agree the latest wave of funnybook films started with the first X-Men movie in 2000 and was solidified as an actual money-making genre with the release of Spider-Man in 2002. Granted, there have been some missteps along the way, but after Disney acquired Marvel, and showed the rest of Hollywood how to really foster, and handle these properties, the comic book movies have become box-office leaders. We will exclude Star Wars from this equation, of course, because that is a force of nature all unto itself.
So, what do we have to look forward to in the realm of comic book movies in the coming year? Well, simply put, a ton. The steam roller that has been rolling along over the past couple of years kept charging forward in 2015 with the releases of the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron, which earned $1,398,858,115, and Ant-man making$518,585,201 . Even the bomb that was the Fantastic Four made $167,977,597. While these movies did great, 2015 will pale in comparison to the lineup that is coming in 2016. Next year we will see releases of Deadpool, Batman vs Superman, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Suicide Squad, and Doctor Strange.
While we can continue to scrutinize how the movies reinterpret these characters, I don’t think that it’s the biggest story when we take a look at the industry as a whole. I’m more interested in the reverse situation, tracking the influence this phenomenon has had on the printed comics. While it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal when it comes to DC, Marvel is a whole different story. Marvel has shown us that if they don’t own a character’s film rights, they will get no love in printed comics. Fantastic Four is the biggest and best example of this; the team doesn’t even exist in the comics now. Their characters have been moved, killed or changed and, as a unit, well, they just aren’t around anymore. Fortunately, with the huge dud that the last FF movie was, the Fantastic Four will be coming home to Marvel, and Disney. So don’t be surprised if you see them creep back into the comics again, with some kind of BS line about it being time to bring them back.
The mutants are the other group that has been getting no love from Marvel. Mutants have been stuck into a dark corner, and they are even raising doubts about the whole backlog of Marvel stories concerning them. With the introduction of the widespread acceptance of the Terrigen mist, are they even really mutants anymore? This quickly became the new way to make heroes and give us a new reason for super humans in our midst. They are not mutants, they are Inhumans. To many people this is no big deal, but I see a terrible underlining problem here. These are business decisions, and not creative ones, and big business drives the big two publishers now. Sure, they want to give us good stories, but those stories have to conform to the business plan. If you don’t see a problem with this, well you’re not a big fan of the Fantastic Four, Peter Parker as Spider-Man, Steve Rodgers as Captain America, and so on.
Marvel, under the hand of Disney, has taken the ropes of these long-established heroes and is twisting them, changing them into what they feel will be a wider appealing set of heroes. While Marvel’s “Secret Wars” has been a masterful way of changing their universe, I’m left wondering how much of it has been put in motion from the direction of their Mouse overlord? It’s a shame that we will never know if this is the case or not.
To end on a good note, I want to point out what a boon Hollywood has become to comic creators. It’s something that Mark Millar, mister Hollywood connection, has benefited from greatly. Hollywood has added a great new revenue stream to the creators of comics. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to put in all the blood, sweat and tears into making the comic, but now you have a potential buyer that will grab the film rights to anything they think has legs. If you’re interested, Google non-superhero movies, and see what comes up. In an industry where many creators seek out a living, this is a welcomed new potential for revenue if you can grab the attention of Hollywood.
On a closing note, I have to say that I am super excited for the future of the upcoming comic book movies. I firmly believe that the new Deadpool movie will blow up and be the highest-grossing superhero movie to date. Needless to say, it is a beautiful world we live in now, where we can look forward to several comic book movies every year.