When approached by a close friend who ask,‘What are the milestones for the comic book movies?’, I was immediately intrigued and at the same time worried that I’d mistakenly leave one out. After a fruitful discussion, and some additional thought, I have found the answers that I feel are complete. Obviously no list is ever really complete, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts and hopefully we can get some debate going around my selections and ultimately what would be your own.
Why you ask? Well of course because of Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando and John Williams! Christopher Reeve brought the comic book icon to a reality in a way no one expected and, in all seriousness, because in that movie he “Made you believe that a man can fly!” Marlon Brando because he brought a big name and serious actor to a comic book film and gave the film a dramatic edge to it as Jor-El. John Williams created a theme that has lasted from the late 70s to now and is still considered epic.
Why you ask? For the reinvention of Batman and Jack Nicholson’s Joker. As my friend once said “They took what was Adam West and his Anti-Shark-Pills and made a gritty, dark, action movie.” At the same time, let us not forget that it also made The Joker scary for the first time. I mean that scene where the reporter dies with a big smile on her face, sent shivers down the spine. Jack Nicholson also portrayed The Joker’s sick, twisted sense of ‘Art’ hauntingly well (remember his girlfriend Felicia?).
Why you ask? Because it was the FIRST R-RATED Comic Book movie to actually succeed. And it got Marvel’s foot in the door. [I did consider Men in Black and The Crow, but those movies are overshadowed by the actors in them (such as Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) or the tragedy of the main actor (like Brandon Lee) to really be considered a comic book movie milestone.]
Why you ask? Besides being a movie that people have been asking for, Marvel gave them what they wanted with big actors and a good director. I mean, it started off in Nazi occupied Poland! How more serious can you get? Plus, it showed that PG-13 comic book films can be better than Batman and Robin
Why you ask? Because it was the first comic book movie that EVERYONE in the world wanted to see. This movie also showed that you could actually have a Superhero in a bright red and blue costume and still be AWESOME. Most people forgot about Superman by this point and were following the Batman / X-men fashion sense, meaning “Black.” Also, it made web-slinging look fantastic! As Superman made you feel a man can fly, this movie made you believe a man can web-sling!
2003 & 2004: X-Men 2 and Spider-Man 2
Why you ask? Both not only continued the momentum of their predecessors, but they actually surpassed them. They both are together because while amazing, didn’t break any new ground.
2005: Batman Begins
Why you ask? It brought back Batman as a dark, serious, scary and dramatic character! It made people no longer attribute Batman and Robin or Batman Forever as their only source to Batman. It was also DC’s (and the Batman franchise) return from blunder that was Batman and Robin. As someone once said “You get thrown THAT far into a dark hole, you don’t think you can come out. But when you inject the franchise with a Film Noir director like Christopher Nolan, critics and audiences agree, it’s pretty good!” It also had a pretty spectacular cast, minus Katie Holmes, which was a big sell too.
2005: Sin City
Why you ask? Because that movie was ‘PRACTICALLY PANEL FOR PANEL’. It was the first comic book movie to do anything like it before. Watchmen and 300 followed suit relatively successfully. Not to mention that the film used green screen backgrounds in an artistic way, which helped bring the background of the comic book pages come to life on screen.
2008: Iron Man
Why you ask? The ENDING! What Marvel was aspiring to do (and are currently making happen) and what we want to believe will happen successfully. That is a motion picture marvel universe. “A SUPER HERO UNIVERSE CONNECTED BY WAY OF FILM!” While they tried and failed to even get the Justice League started, The Avengers is very close to being ready and the ground work has already started. I remarked that “We are on the horizon of what will be Comic Book Movies Finest moment. It’s a Golden Age…a Celluloid Golden Age for Comic Books!”
2008: The Dark Knight
Why you ask? Because it captured the attention of everyone and got comic book character roles to be Oscar winners! People who didn’t even see Batman Begins went to go watch it. This is mainly because of Heath Ledger. I mean, any guy who acts so unbelievably freaky, that even in a teaser trailer he scares you, should win everything! It entered comic book movies into the Academy! And finally, this movie is the only one to say “We’re not calling this Batman II.” No, this is The Dark Knight! It is equivalent to calling the next Superman movie “The Man of Steel!” Ballsy is all we can say!!!