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What's Next For Superhero Movies? 396

New submitter Faizdog writes "The Atlantic has a very interesting article on what's next for superhero movies after The Dark Knight Rises leaves theaters. DC in particular doesn't seem to have a good pipeline of readily available heroes to create movies around. The article discusses the challenges surrounding the upcoming Man of Steel movie, as well as how the circumstances around the successful Spiderman reboot may not necessarily translate to a Batman reboot. The author also mentions the necessity and viability of the comic book print medium continuing on in light of the film successes, especially in terms of revenue (the Avengers movie alone made more profit for Marvel than all comic book sales for the last two years). The article concludes with an interesting suggestion that television may be the ideal medium for comic book adaptations, as it may permit a richer and more complex story telling experience than a two-hour movie."
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What's Next For Superhero Movies?

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  • write a new story? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by notgm ( 1069012 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:14PM (#40753079)

    or has that been done before?

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:21PM (#40753221)

      or has that been done before?


      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:03PM (#40753911) Homepage Journal
        Why don't they just keep doing more Batman movies in the same vein as the current one?

        It seems well done....characters good, etc. Even if the same director wants to quit, couldn't someone else take over the reigns, but keep the same basic 'flavor' of the current movies.

        I don't like this having to 'reboot' every fucking 3-4 movies. I could understand it for the Star Trek movie....and it was done well. I've not seen the new Spiderman yet, but I'm confused for the need to do the 'origin' all over again....and start over. Sure I know new actors, but you don't start the story all over again, just because you have new actors.

        Hell, if they did that...James Bond movies would have been only an endless chain of origin movies....I think the audience can handle different actors playing the characters, but we don't need everything around the character to keep changing every 2-3 movies....leave the basic background story going forward and just change cast.

        • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:17PM (#40754139)

          It's more than likely they reboot for contract issues. "Amazing Spiderman" is not "Spider-man" so they don't have to honour contracts/buy out individuals who have a stake in the series. Given that specific example, Tobey Maguire had signed a deal for Spider-man 4 & 5 but the director didn't like the direction it was taking or the actor so they scrapped Spider-man 4 & 5 and rebooted under the new title.

        • by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @06:35PM (#40757583)

          One reason I don't see addressed below : Licensing rights.

          Marvel Studios sold off the rights to the Spiderman movies to Sony back in the late 90s (before Marvel had their own movie production studio) with a "Use it or lose it" clause. Basically, Sony has to keep the franchise active, or control reverts back to Marvel. And Sony really doesn't want that, especially with what I'm going to outline below. So in the meantime, Sony grabs up some cheaper actors*, particularly in the lead role, a no-name director who won't give any lip, and churns out this quick flick to make sure they get to keep their rights.

          Consider what Marvel Studios has been up to recently, [] and that's been in the public eye since Iron Man 1 back in '08. Also remember the minor spoiler cameo [] during the credits of Avengers. In the comics, that particular villain sparked a multi-series cross over, bringing together Avengers, a few XMen, Spiderman, 75% of the Fantastic Four. With all that in your mind, is there any doubt that Sony wants to make extra sure they keep complete control over Spiderman's movie rights? Marvel's probably going to want him back pretty soon, and Sony will require a LOT of money to negotiate the return of rights. They're certainly not going to let the rights lapse, and they're probably not going to spend a lot of money or effort on a franchise that they're planning on selling.

          *I dig Emma Stone as much as the next guy, but a big-name star she isn't. Likewise Martin Sheen and Sally Field are a bit past their prime, and certainly aren't too expensive for background roles. Denis Leary is somewhat recognizable for the Fireman show, but the other 80% of his work in the past decade has been Ice Age and it's runty offshoots. It's like Sony was aiming for recognizable names, to help sell it, but not TOO recognizable, because we don't want to pay them too much.

    • lol love it!

      "Breaking news: Marvel's IP is deeper than DC's".... no shit Sherlock! [] []

    • or has that been done before?

      There's no money in it anymore for authors. They got tired of getting screwed out of royalties from Hollywood Accounting [] which used fraudulent accounting tricks to convert a net profit into a net loss.

      Authors are refusing to partner with Hollywood, so they are resorting to easier content like remakes or TV-shows-turned-into-movies or comic books.

      Hollywood hasn't made a movie in YEARS that was a good story that didn't rely on CGI.

    • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @04:10PM (#40755091) Homepage

      The vast majority of movies that are created aren't based on pre-existing content. However, the movies people actually care about and go watch generally are. For instance, if you look at Slashdot's "Movie" tags, it's entirely comic books and Star Trek and Star Wars. Not much on "The Queen Of Versailles" or "The Imposter" although these are both supposed to be excellent movies.

      Nothing wrong with that, but it's bizarre to complain that you want to see original content, and then not go see the original content that is easily available.

  • by Spiflicator ( 64611 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:14PM (#40753081)
    I think Drew Carey would be excellent.
  • Marvel's on it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:17PM (#40753137) []

    And I'm not even a comic fan. Who was this article written for?

  • No mention of TV? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:18PM (#40753149)

    Interesting that the article suggests movies possibly superseding the original comics, but doesn't even mention TV series based around these characters, despite the popular and critical success of many such series. Batman: The Animated Series almost single-handedly pulled animation out of its 1980s kiddie ghetto.

    • Re:No mention of TV? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:23PM (#40753261)

      Agreed, and I agree with the conclusion of the summery that "television may be the ideal medium for comic book adaptations", as B:TAS is probably the best adaptation of Batman in any medium outside of the comics. Further, I'd say that it was better than many periods of the Batman comics.

      I guess it all comes down to who is in charge and how faithful they want to stay to the source material and create stories from there.

  • The patterns are well established and well adhered to. Plus, I'm so tired of listening to "journalists" hyping the latest $200M snoozer. Many of them are great cable entertainment, but not much coming out is worthy of a theater ticket.

    • Agreed. At home the floors aren't sticky, you don't have to rub shoulders with a stranger, and you can have beer.

      • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

        Agreed. At home the floors aren't sticky, you don't have to rub shoulders with a stranger, and you can have beer.

        speak for yourself.


      • And, if you drink too much beer (or coke, coffee, or whatever), you can hit the pause button while you pee. At the theaters, it seems I always have to pee during the best part of the movie.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:20PM (#40753199) Journal
    And I don't mean stop making movies, I mean they should turn to their dirtier and darker titles like Preacher [], Fables [] or Scalped []. I guess those center around a more anti-hero or "regular" hero but if done right they could be a great movie franchise. Personally I'm sick of superhero movies and though they have been lucrative I hope that we get a little break here before it gets ridiculously diluted. In the movie industry too much of a good thing can go bad real fast.
  • Please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck...

  • After all, that bat dude made money, so can "Starfox" from the Avengers.
  • Rumoured, anyways.
    I don't even care if it ends up being good, it's guaranteed to be funny.

  • The Incredibles 2! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:22PM (#40753243)

    Pixar's The Incredibles was everything I could have possibly wanted from a super hero movie. How about a sequel to that?

    • by Picass0 ( 147474 )

      You're not alone in wanting to see a new Incredibles. I'd love to see Pixar use it's new corporate ties to Marvel to have a few cameos by some 60's Marvel favorites. The Incredibles meet an early Fantastic Four, or a Ditko style Spidey, or Namor the Submariner, or a Grey Hulk...

      Yeah, I'd see that movie.

      • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:08PM (#40753971) Journal
        Parody is a huge part of the Incredibles, sticking characters foreign to The Incredibles universe would strip away something from the IP. I dont think it is something Brad Bird would allow to happen. As far as I know he owns/has control of the IP and hes pretty protective of it.
      • If you are into comic books, I doubt you want a "richer and more complex story telling experience".

        I think that would ruin it, personally. It's a nice nod in the direction of comic superheroes, without being bound by anything that happened in them.

        I thought they did a really good job of side-stepping the whole thing. I mean, you can't have "Gazer Beam" as well as the 'serious' ones. Most of them had tongue in cheek names.

        Seems like trying to bring those more directly into the story just would sort of wre

  • by madhatter256 ( 443326 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:23PM (#40753269)

    Wasn't Leonardo Dicaprio spear heading production of a live action Akira?

    That would be so cool if it was made the right way.

  • Animation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by residieu ( 577863 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:24PM (#40753287)
    Young Justice and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes have both been excellent examples of comics on television and show how you can have longer-running plot arcs without the difficulty of extending series past 3 movies. You can also have the comic book trope of a villain being beaten and coming back next season that you never get a chance to do with movies.
  • ...that all new superhero movies for the next few years will be tame and mushy, non-provocative, non-political. It's a liability issue []. (See point 3 in the lawsuit.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:26PM (#40753307)

    Disney's already working on the John Carter sequel - CowboyNeal of Uranus

  • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:32PM (#40753389)

    The next new thing I think is going to be MMO inspired movies. Blizzard, for example, is in a great position with World of Warcraft, they have tons of content already written, and I'm sure fans would pay gobs of cash to see an epic character's take on a world they already know, and with appropriate special effects and drama only approximated by the capabilities of the game. The difference between that and a comic book movie, where the source material has also been previously written in a world people are already familiar with, is minimal. They just might be video game movies that don't immediately suck, so long as they stay reasonably true to the source material, which is why many comic book movies do well. They differ just enough to allow the production crew to imprint their take on it, and they're familiar enough to ring home with audiences.

    If you think it's ridiculous, consider going back in time and telling yourself 20 years ago that the movies would be absolutely dominated by remakes and reboots and comic book movies, and imagine your double's response.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:34PM (#40753421) Homepage

    It is about damn time we had the Tick on the big screen. and they can still get the actor that did an amazing job with it.

    We want the Tick!


  • The next step is robots, then zombies, then vampires and we're back to superheroes again.
    • Hey, you forgot aliens. Humanoid aliens, acid-blood aliens, hunter aliens, cute aliens, blue aliens. You can't simply leave out aliens. And cowboys...they'll throw some cowboy movies in there two. If you're lucky you'll get cowboys in space (Serenity), if not, you'll get aliens in a western (Cowboys vs...well, you get the picture).

  • I think they should do a movie featuring a female superhero like Wonder Woman, where the female is main star, not like CatWoman or one of the female X-Men. There's probably some choices better than Wonder Woman, but I don't follow comics that much. Guys would go watch it to see a woman in a skimpy costume, and lots of women would go see it as well. I think it could work.
    • Well, there was a Wonder Woman TV show in the works, with a more "up to date" version of the character. They filmed the pilot, but no one picked it

  • Can they stop re-making movies already. Everything in theaters this year other than two or three movies are all remakes. Why not take some other short story and mold it into the next Bladerunner or something?!?!

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:42PM (#40753537) Homepage

    I'm in favor of the idea of an ongoing TV series. Heavy super-powers may drain budgets, but I think something like Batman could be done in a way that would make an excellent TV series, especially if it could get a budget approaching what Game of Thrones has. Ultimately, these characters and storylines were developed for an episodic medium, and I think you could get even better results putting them into another episodic medium rather than making a couple of big movies.

    Of course, budget is only have the problem. You also need talented writers who can deal with the cultural relevance of some of these characters. I think getting good writers might be the most difficult part. I would be fine with some more high-quality animated work if they could get good writers.

  • I'd love to see a Witchblade or The Darkness in live action + CGI form. The tech is obviously mature enough for it now. Get the people that worked on the design for the Alien/s/Predator movies props to make it look semi-realistic. Probably not iconic/popular enough for the mass audiences though. (possibly too dark for some as well.)

  • The problem with making comic book stories on television is that you don't have the budget. Special effects cost money, and any truly 'super' hero is going to need special effects to wow the audience.

    Without the multi-million dollar budget you get in movies, there are few superhero stories you can make well. Maybe something with minor SFX like Arrow (the Green Arrow TV show coming out in the fall), but nothing with real powers and real sensawunder. At best you'll just make lame soap operas like Smallville that occasionally hint at super powers being used in the background.

  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:43PM (#40753575)

    I have this vague distant memory of when comics were celebrated for bursting with imagination and exploring all sorts of important social issues (racism, sexism, various other isms). With complex twisting plots

    While movies, by their nature, can't get that intricate, studios seem to think that people want nothing more than brainless Bay-esque explosion festivals. Then once in a while they accidentally spit out something like Avengers (Can't comment on batman since I haven't seen it yet) where they have something resembling a plot and depth of characters. Yet can't bring themselves to accept that people are tired of the same old Hollywood cliches and want something genuinely new and interesting. Something that tugs on your emotions and somehow pulls you in so deeply that you actually care about the characters as if they were actual living beings.

    Here's a hint hollywood... I saw Avengers SOLELY because it was written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is the first movie I have seen in theatre in years, and it's the first movie I have EVER seen where I can honestly say that I would happily fork over money to watch it in theatre again. Why? Because despite Avengers being another comic regurgitation, he still managed to do the above.

    Can we have that back again? Please?

    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:10PM (#40754025) Homepage

      studios seem to think that people want nothing more than brainless Bay-esque explosion festivals

      I'm actually an advocate for taking the action film to its logical conclusion: a film entitled Blowing Stuff Up, about nothing at all, that features at least 90 minutes of well-known stars in a world of explosions, car chases, gun fights, etc doing what they're doing for no particular reason. Hey, at least it wouldn't pretend to be something sophisticated.

  • by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:48PM (#40753665) Homepage

    I think they really missed a chance to turn Smallville TV show into a movie enterprise. They had most of the characters assembled, and could have done a proto justice league type movie.......

    I'm not really expecting the Superman movie coming out to do anything. In fact, it could be a huge flop......and I don't see anyone doing a Justice League movie anytime soon either. You really need to do like what they did BEFORE the Avengers. You need to have a movie or two to give the origins of some of the main characters. So, say a superman movie......a flash movie......a green arrow movie.......

    Or just spin off Smallville's version of them and put them on the big's not like the cast of that show is really doing a lot right now.......

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:48PM (#40753667)

    >> what's next for superhero movies?

    Reboot the same lame Batman/Superman/Spiderman/Xmen/Hulk/whatever story again, this time after only two years, not five, and this time, it will be "darker than last time."

    Why not? People seem to fall for this every time.

  • the original comics - the successful ones - have a rich history behind them, and in many cases the nature of what they convey happens to translate well into a good action film, aided already as they are by a visual medium.

    with such a rich history behind the development of the stories and the characters, it is incredibly hard for any film to screw that up: they would actually need to make quite an effort to destroy the film, by cutting out too much, deviating from the original too much, or trying to introduce their own "creative" storyline elements that are out of tune with the characters.

    no - the problem that the original article is referring to is, i believe, this: that it took a *hell of a long time* for the comic books to come up with the successful and compelling material that was portrayed in them, and thus it was a relatively easy (if somewhat expensive) task to convert that material into a film. for that success to be *repeated* it would therefore make sense for the comic books to continue further story development, which may take at least one maybe two decades to complete... but film enthusiasts don't want to wait that long. herein lies the dilemma...

  • Hollywood seems to love re-boots, so why doesn't someone adapt Grendel?

    Every movie would be a re-boot. If it was on TV, every season could be a re-boot.

  • For the Rubberband man!

  • XKCD (Score:4, Funny)

    by nogginthenog ( 582552 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:57PM (#40753809)
    XKCD the movie. You know you want it.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:06PM (#40753943)

    The dark, edgy reboot as Gilligan and the Skipper land on the "Lost" island. A threeeee hour tour. A threee hour tour.

  • So far, all the superhero movies have been start-from-scratch, where the movie has to intoduce the hero, tell the origin story, set up a Big Bad to get the hero moving along the path to heroics, etc.

    So each superhero movie has been more or less the same as all the rest - change the character, nudge the origin, different baddie - but overall, same formula.

    But actual comic books don't do this (very often). When you buy a comic, you already know the hero's backstory - what you are getting is a story featuring that hero.

    I postulate that with the superhero movies doing so well - and with so many characters having been introduced to the non-comic-reading public, that it will become possible to do stand-alone movies featuring known characters.

    So you could do, for example, Arkham Aslyum (per the graphic novel) where the opening scene is Batman showing up at the front gate and meeting Gordon to be briefed on what is going on inside and why Batman is needed there - without having to show Batty's parents getting murdered, the discovery of the Batcave, the origin of the Batmobile etc etc.

    You might have to do a couple of establishment scenes to show how this Batman differs from whatever movie came out last, but that's trivial compared to a full reboot.


  • by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <[knuckles] [at] []> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:18PM (#40754161)

    I want an Atom movie. And Flash.

  • by CHK6 ( 583097 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:26PM (#40754281)
    Seems like anytime a really good show comes on it gets cancelled because it cost to much to continue the production. So DC and Marvel comics beable to keep the costs down and still be really entertaining?

    If Firefly can't make it, then I doubt a comic book hero story line can make it.
  • by aaronb1138 ( 2035478 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:34PM (#40754395)

    I would love to see TV properly exploited as a medium to explore superheroes, other comic book lore, and similar storytelling. Unfortunately, with the exception of Heroes and Buffy, the TV networks have largely been unwilling to put the money and risk into giving any comic book styled work the necessary support.

    Good, long term plot based writing only appeals to the networks when they have a LOT of extra capital to throw around with development. One only needs to look to Joss Whedon's other works such as Dollhouse and Firefly to see plot lines and characters bearing strong parallels to the comic book format to see what I am talking about.

    The networks are pretty much a lost cause at this point. It seems TNT, USA, Showtime, and HBO are the only ones willing to incubate a variety of shows in which plot arcs matter as much as the stand alone episode. NBC gets the closest to an honorable mention since they were willing to back Heroes and The West Wing years ago (different genre, but Sorkin's storytelling is very similar to comics / graphic novels in every TV show he touches).

    Even SyFy (what a terrible restyling) is dropping it's cache of long development series, Eureka and Warehouse 13 in favor of yet more illiterate programming.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"