When Warner Brothers announced that its sequel to Man of Steel would be a Superman/Batman team-up movie, it seemed somehow revolutionary, to me at least. It was pushing the envelope further than Marvels’ The Avengers or the prospect of a Justice League movie, which were obvious choices for movies with multiple superheroes. But a Superman/Batman crossover? That feels like something different.
A recent article in Entertainment Weekly has surfaced about another crossover, one less likely. Darren Franich reported on the possibility of a Marvel-sized crossover in the Fantastic Four reboot, that would potentially have the famed foursome team-up with the X-Men. Has the idea of the crossover become simple evolution to comic book movie adaptations?
For one thing, Marvel’s The Avengers proved that audiences will wholeheartedly accept multiple superheroes in one film. Its phenomenal success both critically and at the worldwide box office have Hollywood executives seeing a Star Wars sized cash-cow formula in their midst.
Is this a watershed moment in movies or simply perfect timing?
Comic book adaptations have flooded the movie market since the early 2000’s with X-Men and Spider-Man kicking things off. And that bubble hasn’t burst. Marvel has continued to pump out more films (three this year alone: Iron Man 3, The Wolverine and coming in November Thor: The Dark World) and Warner Brother’s looks like it’s beginning its D.C. run. Will we ever tire of the comic book movie? Personally, I’m surprised that it hasn’t happened already. With lesser known comic titles coming down the pipe like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, will the movie-going public hand over their money as easily? Or are we on the verge of over-saturation?
Perhaps the antidote for this potential fear from Hollywood execs is the crossover. It’s a relatively new concept for comic book movies and has more benefits financially than just a single film. Take Marvel’s The Avengers, as a movie having multiple superheroes. Removing Iron Man because of its success prior to The Avengers, both Thor and Captain America have three picture deals as offshoots from that Avengers movie. Though not a complete spin off, as both characters had films come out a year before Marvel’s The Avengers was released, would these movies have been made without an Avengers movie with sequels to come? Likely not. As well, Marvel could also decide to do another Hulk movie, all this from one killer cross-pollination of superheroes. Right now, nine movies are slated from one Avengers-sized discussion, plus a possibility of more. Oh, and I forgot to mention a TV show: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming out this Fall as well.
When will the bubble burst? Not anytime soon, it seems. Why then have comic book movies stayed around for so long, their strength only building? The answer could be in those films of the early 2000’s which kicked off this explosion. If you make a good film, if it’s entertaining and well-crafted, a wide and diverse audience will see them. These days, Hollywood balks at originality, and this simply wasn’t the case in the 70’s and 80’s. Instead, filmmakers have found a fountain of youth inside comics. Decades of monthly comic stories are now at their fingertips to whip into a screenplay and place on the big screen. If crafted well enough, many of the comic books themselves have acted as movie storyboards as well.
The comic book movie is likely here to stay, as nothing better has taken its place.
Now, I couldn’t have a discussion involving the new Batman/Superman crossover without mentioning the bombshell of the year (so far), that none other than Ben Affleck will play the Caped Crusader. My feelings, like most of those circulating on the internet, are mixed on the subject. Initially, I was bewildered. I’d like to think that the people who cast movies generally know what they are doing, but Ben Affleck? Once my feelings settled, I’m now trying my hardest not to judge before it hits the screen – or until I see the first trailer. But something doesn’t sit right. Ben Affleck is a mega-star. When Christian Bale donned The Dark Knight’s cowl, he was not nearly the box office draw he is today. The role boosted his exposure and he was easier to accept as Batman. Affleck doesn’t need any help getting his face out there, and it could be a legitimate distraction playing Bruce Wayne. Interestingly, he has spent much of his time in recent years shying away from being overexposed, but now he’s back in another superhero movie. And to think, Daredevil was such a distant memory; it’s almost like it didn’t exist.
Am I ready for this? Am I ready for Affleck as Batman?
Not yet. It needs more time to sink in.