Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Golden age of superheroes movies

For the purpose of this article, only marvel and DC superheroes are considered to make it simple and to avoid having to list down every superhero movie during this age.

The golden age began since the release of x-men in 2000. Superhero movies received a welcome back party. Previously, there was only the superman movie series (1978-1987), and the batman series (1989-1997), each lasted 4 movies wherein the last in their series has been disappointing to many.

At that time, the box office mark of superhero movies are not expected to exceed half a billion USD. X-men did well but didn't broke that mark, not even for the next 5 movies (2000-2013) based on it. Following x-men was everybody's favourite, spider-man (2002-2007). The series was very well received and broke a lot of box office records for all three of its movies. The third spiderman became a bit disappointing, and even more so when Sony decided to reboot it barely 5 years after the last we saw of Spidey. The only other reboot that happened that soon was the hulk.

Released in 2003 with liberal imagination that Bruce banner's father is the main villain to the hulk, it was not as good as it's reboot. Anyway, hulk not getting a series on its own may have been because of the 2003 movie. Along with the avenger's version, we had seen enough of a different version of the hulk for now, thank you.

Another superhero series that is going to get rebooted is the fantastic four. At least it has been a long while since we saw those and they only lasted 2 movies (2005-2007). The upcoming 2015 movie would mark 8 years since we saw them last.

But all these reboot started with Batman Begins (2005). It was also 8 years since the bat nipple, and it was high time for Nolan to deliver the best Batman we have on the big screen so far. For the second installment in 2008, joker took the movie to great heights and it landed over the billion dollar mark and stopped at no. 3 globally. This was the first superhero movie to do so. It's a shame that heathe leager died and they can't have joker for the finale.

What's more shameful for DC is superman returns in 2006. This counts as the fifth installment of the earlier superman movies and it earned below the half billion dollar mark. Why is it shameful? It's because they missed the opportunity to reboot superman then. Man of Steel (2013) arrived 7 years later and now they had to use a different actor to play batman in it's sequel coming out in 2016. If this batman is not in the same continuity with Nolan's trilogy, then we have the shortest reboot yet (4 years). Say if they decided to plan coherently early on in the game, (but Warner brothers was busy with harry potter then) right when x-men came out, then superman return could had just been man of steel back in 2006, and they can have man of steel 2 somewhere before batman vs superman in 2012! Now that is a movie that could rival the Avengers. Well to be fair the dark knight rises did well too to earn slightly more than the dark knight and is about 2/3 of the avengers in earning terms.

In 2008, the year that marked the entry of superhero movie into the billion dollar club, also marked the coming of Iron man and the Incredible Hulk. Iron man became a very successful movie trilogy with maybe more on the way. The third in its series (2013) beat the dark knight rises in the box office. No doubt this is due to the avengers help, but it was amazing considering that he is a totally unknown superhero in the big screen before 2008, as compared to batman.

Marvel studios pushed on and linked their movies, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and generated so much hype that was part of the factors that made the Avengers the highest milestone so far in the golden age of superhero movies. My personal opinion is that it is unlikely that Captain America would receive much attention had it not been for the premise of a shared universe. It is set in world war 2 which most of the living people now did not personally experience. Now, in 2014, Thor the dark world and captain america winter soldier each earned more than its first movie, no doubt fuelled by the avengers hype.

And now for the biggest movie event in history, the Avengers (2012). The movie combines separate heroes with their own movies and pit them against a threat greater than what each of them is capable of defeating alone. Hulk, Iron man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and black widow. The box office response to this is tremendous. More than 1.5 billion dollars has been earned, putting it at the third place behind the two Cameron movies. To Marvel studios, this is the end of phase 1. Now we are nearing the end of phase 2, with only guardians of the galaxy (2014) left before Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).

This upcoming movie is expected by everyone to earn more than its predecessor, possibly even beating Titanic's record. Thus, a lot of other superhero movies avoid getting a 2015 release year. Only ant man, marvel studios own movie and fantastic four, a reboot that need not suck in too much money are the notable scheduled superhero movies then. Even Warner brothers wised up and pushed batman vs superman back to 2016. (They initially wanted to release justice league in 2015!)

However, the year of 2016 is now full packed with sequels. Batman v Superman, The Amazing Spiderman 3, captain America 3, X-men apocalypse, and an unnamed marvel movie. This year alone we are treated to 4 of them, last year too (Iron Man 3, Thor 2, the Wolverine, Man of Steel). By comparison, 2015 would feel a little empty.

Although this means that we might have to wait a long time before spiderman or wolverine joins the avengers, I am glad that there are 3 studios that produces marvel character movies. It makes the presence of marvel so much more stronger on the silver screen and gives us many different forms of enjoyment.

As with all ages, the golden age of superhero movie will not last forever. The end of the golden age might come when the superhero movies saturate cinema so much that the overall sales for them drops down to below half a billion and keeps on going lower. It might also come if marvel decided to reboot its cinematic universe. Or simply that the studios are so engrossed with money that they sacrificed the art element in the movies.

Regardless of how it ends, the superhero genre are here to stay, like the romance, western, horror, sci-fi etc...

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