There is no stopping comic book adaptations anytime soon. On the heels of Deadpool’s massive success this past weekend, if the notion that comic book films are box office gold wasn’t clear it enough, it is crystal clear now.
Deadpool is just another link in the chain of Hollywood creating movie money with comic book adaptations. Dating back to Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), studios found a source of established content with a built-in audience in these comic books to build lucrative franchises. It’s not that simple to create box office magic through comic book films (just look at last year’s Fantastic 4), but if studios hire the right director and a writer pen an adequate script, most often than not they have a hit on their hands.
Since Batman was the inciting box office hit that alerted studios of the cash cow they were about to stumble on, it’s no surprise to see the Caped Crusader invading cinemas again in next month’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This will be the fifth version of Bruce Wayne on the big screen, and the first since Christian Bale took him to a new gritty and human level in Christopher Nolan’s masterful Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012). Now Ben Affleck will don the batsuit and duke it out with the man of steel for DC Comic supremacy—and there isn’t much excitement for it.
DC Comics is in the midst of creating (on the fly) their own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After witnessing the money pouring into the Iron Man and Avengers films, it’s no wonder DC pushed hard to bring back their best heroes for an impromptu creation of the Justice League, even if their most beloved character was fresh off one of the best film trilogies ever.
It’s four years later and we have another new Batman. Again.
Don’t get me wrong, the final trailer for the film shows Batman kicking some serious ass, but I’m getting tired of all these reboots of the Caped Crusader. And while Ben Affleck certainly has the acting chops to carry his own, Christian Bale took the Dark Knight (dualistically juxtaposed with villains Ra’s Al Ghul, Joker, Two-Face and Bane) to a whole new level I don’t think can ever be reached. It’s a tall order to follow.
Batman v. Superman may very well end up being a great film, but if it follows director Zack Snyder’s last effort, Man of Steel, don’t expect well-executed character development – one of the pillars of The Dark Knight films. It’s really hard to give your protagonist an intimate arena to struggle and mature in an overblown CGI-fest, which was the downfall of Man of Steel. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but given Zack Snyder’s history, I truly lack faith in him.
Deadpool’s success has many reasons, but one of the most obvious is the comic book fatigue audiences are starting to experience. People won’t ever stop watching these movies, but after a while, the end of the world just isn’t a big deal anymore—an exhausted trope in comic book films. Humanized character arcs and fresh new takes on superheroes are needed to infuse more life into this genre beyond end-of-the-world cliches. By the looks of the earlier trailers for Batman v. Superman (which spoiled most of the storyline), it seems to fall into the same mistake as its predecessors.
What Marvel developed in five films, DC is trying to do in just one movie. This may be a reason why Batman v. Superman feels so bogged down by storylines and characters. In this one film, we are being introduced to Batman, Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Doomsday and possibly Barbara Gordon and the Flash. That list doesn’t even include Superman, Lois Lane, Martha Kent and a cameo of General Zod as incumbent characters from Man of Steel.
This Batman and Superman mash-up only exist for one reason: to fast-forward the production of the upcoming Justice League by interweaving this characters as quickly as possible. This also sets the stage for more spin-off movies, including Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
Does the world need another Batman story? No. But in this new world where every other movie is making billions of dollars, a movie featuring both Batman and Superman seems like a shoe in to gross at least that much, if not more. This highlights the reasons why this movie is being forced upon us, but even though I’m not that excited about it, I welcome it. It won’t be as good as The Dark Knight, and I’m definitely not as excited as I was for The Avengers, but seeing Batman and Superman go nuclear on another city will be most enjoyable to watch. Come March 25, I’ll take a visit to my local theater to watch this epic movie.