If you’ve set foot in the theater any time in the past few years, you’ll see the evolution of the classic comic book store. All of your favorite classic superheroes line the hallways in live-action posters enhanced with special effects and brilliant artistry. You can even sit right in the middle of all the action with a big bag of popcorn in the 3-D movie. Yes, comic book superheroes are all the rage again, migrating from the page, to television cartoons, and right into live action adventure thrillers. The interesting part is how these classic story lines and characters have inspired a genre of their own, with enough flexibility to create totally innovative new movies series while remaining grounded in their page-turning roots.
DC Comics Superheroes
Batman has crashed the cinemas for years, retelling the saga of this classic superhero, the orphaned millionaire who magically keeps his two very public identities far away from each other. From the first Batman: The Movie in 1966 based on the cheeky television series, to the most recent Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, the movies have delved deeper into the identities and motivations of Batman’s nemeses to find dark reflections of himself while also calling into question what it means to be a vigilante.
Superman, aptly described again and again, and once again in his most recent cinematic appearance, Superman: Man of Steel, is from the planet Krypton and is practically indestructible and perfect in every way due to the density of his original planet…unless you happen to have kryptonite. He’s classically heroic from his infancy, when he was flung into space by his scientist father and landed in a humble American farm home and discovered his powers by lifting a tractor to save his new Earth dad. From his humble beginnings, Superman’s story has evolved over the years based on his original story and molded by current events and patriotism.
From commanding weather and reading minds to getting really big and angry, Marvel Comics brilliantly turns normal people going through life into imaginative and unlikely angst-filled superheroes with odd powers.
Iron Man, most recently seen in the cinema in Iron Man 3, runs slightly parallel to Batman in the Marvel Universe, throwing his vast wealth at gadgets that equip him for vigilante justice. However, Iron Man doesn’t live a secret double life, nor does he augment his crime fighting with philanthropy. Armed with quick wits, a snarky attitude, and brilliant powers of tinkering, he rises to the occasion…all the way up into outer space and through wormholes as he did in The Avengers if need be. Another Avengers character, the Incredible Hulk, gives a new meaning to what it means to manage anger. His origin story and struggle to harness his power has also been given new depth on the big screen based on his classic comic book self.
The X-Men movie series has also been a huge success, delving deeper into the origins and inner-workings of classic comic book characters. Although characters like Wolverine and Charles are depicted as heroes, The X-Men series also explores what it means to have powers and use them to create the world you believe is just. The line between hero and villain is blurred beyond recognition as characters remain true to their roots but are influenced by the imaginations shaped by today.
Comic book superheroes have lived on through immense technological development, times of war and peace, and massive cultural shifts. As they’ve moved from book to television to big screen, they’ve evolved both with the times, and become more complete and complex characters.