Recently, Steven Spielberg said that the comic book movie genre will ‘go the way of the western’. We are coming to a pivotal point in Superhero film franchise history, with 2016 having 8 Marvel & DC films being released. Beyond that, each year becomes more packed with comic book heroes taking up major film release spots. Will it last? I’m not sure. But if it doesn’t, what will replace the phenomenon that is comic book films?
We have two big releases in 2016 that may reinvigorate the video-game movie adaptation market; Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed. There have been a few films that have managed to do okay such as Resident Evil and Tomb Raider, but neither have reached the dizzying heights of comic book movies.
If both Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed do well, we could see a major jump onto the video-game bandwagon from the top studios. Similar to comic books, there are plenty of source materials to play around with. Especially if producers are willing to take them seriously, this could be a financial move that may surpass the success of the comic book world.
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Comic Book Rebooted Universes
Yes, I know this doesn’t really answer the question. But we all know, Hollywood loves reboots, what better way to follow the success of comic book films than to reboot them all. Imagine the amount of buzz surrounding the recasting of the major superheroes. Imagine having a unified universe, whereby one studio may own the rights to all of the Marvel properties and was able to interconnect the story lines of all of the heroes.
If an ending point was established for comic book movies, and a last hurrah was agreed upon, then this idea may happen. With all the old contracts of their more established actors finishing, Marvel could cut the cord and start again. In the comic book world this happens all the time as a chance for new readers to hop aboard.
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Perhaps the saviour for the big screen comes in the form of the small one. Imagine if they made a mega film universe similar to Marvel’s but with the world of Game of Thrones. Or if they took some of the serious dramas like Breaking Bad or The Wire and had trilogies based off them.
Many TV shows have huge fanbases that would love to see their favourite characters on the big screen. There’s plenty of source material, similar to comic books, and with TV’s inbuilt nature of telling stories that never end, that could translate to this trend.
This may sound odd today, but the technology is out there. From Facebook’s Oculus Rift to Sony’s PlayStation VR we are seeing big companies take VR seriously. If VR is able to cement itself as an entertainment device, similar to our smartphones and tablets, it could revolutionise the movie industry.
Content released exclusively for VR platforms or existing products being remade to suit. Imagine if Edge of Tomorrow was remastered to have VR features, the futuristic battle scenes would be intense!
This is actually already happening: Christopher Nolan’s Akira, Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell and supposed live-action adaptations of Death Note and Cowboy Bebop. There is an endless list of Anime and Manga that Hollywood could shameless copy from.
Return of the Western?
Perhaps we come full circle and return to Westerns. There are two Westerns being released this year, The Hateful Eight. and The Revenant, and I could see Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott Eastwood, reprise many of his roles in rebooted form.
How about the rise of a different genre? What if horror films were actually any good? What would happen if producers put more money behind sci-fi ideas? Genre films have been the bread-and-butter of the movie industry with each studio having a catalogue of different genre films to boost their yearly results. But, what if one genre stood out?
Is it the time of the genre?
Trends often repeat and like the Western suggestion perhaps another trend from the 80’s could see a resurgence; the action star. Yes, I’m taking the Arny’s and the Stallone’s. Why not? Bring another host of jacked up guys to play these roles and start making new franchises centered around them.
There are countless Wrestler’s who’d jump at the chance, also perhaps a few from the UFC or other fighting tournaments.
We have Star Wars being released this year (yes I know, I can’t really believe it either) and we also have another Star Trek next year. The past two years we’ve had a space film near the end of the year in the shape of Gravity for 2013 and Interstellar for 2014. This year it comes in the form of both Star Wars and The Martian.
Clearly audiences like these types of films, otherwise Hollywood wouldn’t keep making them. More importantly, directors like them, and good directors. Although many don’t end in franchises, that may change in the future with Star Wars attempting to have two films a year for the upcoming slate.
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In all honesty, however, how long comic book films will last all depends. It depends on us as the audience and how much we can tolerate and it also depends on the studios and how much they continue to invest. The saving grace of comic book films is their fantastic stories and the production teams behind them. If studios attempt to save on talent and place them elsewhere I feel that the attention of audiences will follow suit.
What do you think will succeed comic book movies in the film industry? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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