6 Specific Reasons Why Superhero Movies Ruined Comic Books
If you're into comic book characters, this current explosion of superhero cinema is basically an ongoing orgy of amazingness. Even weirdos like Deadpool and Ant-Man are getting movies and, more surprisingly, they're actually profitable. Hollywood could probably have Armless Tiger Man battle Snowflame, the cocaine-powered supervillain and, at worst, double their money. It's that much of a spandexed renaissance.
If you're into comic books, however, you should be pretty pissed off right now. Why? Because it turns out those gorgeous movie types cosplaying as your favorite ink-and-paper creations are ruining them more than they'll ever know or care about. Before you buy a ticket to the latest cowl-heavy blockbuster, consider that ...
The Moviemakers Regularly Shit On The Comics
Along with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Bryan Singer's X-Men movies are often credited with digging the superhero genre out of the gutter by finally treating the source material with respect. This is slightly ironic, considering that Singer apparently hates that material. In fact, according to Hugh Jackman, Singer outright banned X-Men comics on set.
"Yeah, I love #137 but, personally, #142 is ... Bryan! H-How long have you been there?"
"You're both fired."
Singer's reasoning? He wanted realistic, three-dimensional acting and feared reading weird, dumb baby comics would possess the actors into performing "over-the-top" and thus killing believability. Because when you're making a movie about a 160-year-old man with giant steel claws and a flying woman who can control the weather by shouting, "WEATHER, DO THE THING NOW," you absolutely must be subtle about it. Josh Trank, who directed the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, also told actors not to read Fantastic Four comics at all, but, OK, you probably saw that one coming.
Then there's director David Goyer, who understands literally nothing about comics and respects them even less, despite writing three Blade films, two Ghost Rider films, two Superman films, and four Batman films. When asked about Marvel's She-Hulk, he dismissed her as nothing but "a giant green porn star," created by horny, powerless men and masturbated to by hornier, even more powerless men. And the Hulk. According to Goyer, She-Hulk exists simply to be the only girl Hulk can bone without squashing her like Bambi under Godzilla's foot. There's a tiny hole in this theory: She-Hulk isn't Hulk's girlfriend; she's his cousin. And a lawyer. And a feminist icon.
And awesome, if that wasn't clear already.
Perhaps Goyer endured something traumatic in his childhood involving the color green, because he also shat all over classic DC Comics superhero (and perpetual Justice League member) the Martian Manhunter. After asking a crowd how many people had heard of the character, he followed up with, "How many people that raised their hands have ever been laid?" He then called the character's name and origin stupid and proceeded to describe a new one where he's grown in Area 51, breaks out, and "fucks She-Hulk" (who lives in another universe). We're only 60 percent sure that last part was a joke.
Finally, there's good ol' Zack "let's rape Batman" Snyder.
Eventually, Snyder decided the rape should be metaphorical.
More recently, Snyder outright said he likes Batman and Superman not because they're superheroes but because they're better than superheroes. Soak in these words of wisdom:
Ant-Man has been around for over 50 years, and his movie just made half a billion dollars. He's as much a "flavor of the week" as The Beatles are. All this proves is that Snyder grossly misunderstands other heroes MORE than he grossly misunderstands Superman. Also, don't tease us about Blankman 2 if you're not going to deliver. That's just mean.
Marvel Is Sabotaging Marvel Characters (When They Don't Own The Film Rights)
Can you spot the difference between this 2007 Marvel character montage poster ...
... and the 2015 edition?
Hulk's posture has improved considerably.
Aside from the Marvel Universe's growing stray dog problem, notice the complete lack of X-Men? They were front-and-center in 2007, as you'd expect from one of Marvel's top cash cows. But in 2015, they're nowhere to be found. They're not in front, they're not in the middle -- they can't even chill in the back with Doc Ock and Devil Dinosaur. Why so callously demote the Godfather of Marvel franchises down to Fredo like they just did? The answer is depressingly simple: Marvel doesn't own the rights to X-Men movies; Fox does. Marvel makes no money off those films -- Fox rubs its dick on the profits and dares Marvel to sniff them.
As a result, legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont (who's more or less responsible for the X-Men even being a thing) has revealed that writers are expressly forbidden from creating any new mutants, at all. New characters immediately become creative fodder for Fox, and the last thing Marvel wants is to help their enemies make more money. They've even written it into the storylines -- the new series Extraordinary X-Men boasts a cataclysmic event that outright sterilizes mutants so they can't baby up and keep the superpower gene pool nice and wet. As Storm laments, "This is all there is ... this is all there will ever be."
This leaves Fox with a pitiful 244 characters to choose from.
The already-existing characters aren't faring much better. Take everyone's favorite Hairy Sue, Wolverine, who died two years ago and has pulled a Bruce's parents by (alternate universe versions of Wolverine aside) actually staying dead. Just as he's making shitloads of money for Fox. Weeeeeeird.
But the X-Pawns aren't the only victims of Marvel cutting off the spandex to spite Rupert Murdoch -- the Fantastic Four movie rights also belong to Fox and, despite their movies being less profitable than a child's lemonade stand, Marvel still doesn't want to give their rival any ammunition whatsoever. For example, Marvel banned any trading cards featuring anybody from The Fantastic Four, hero or villain. We're not sure what's a bigger shock: that Marvel's banning trading cards of their own intellectual property, or that Marvel still makes trading cards at all.
They sent the same thing to Pog designers.
Then there's how Marvel just straight-up canceled the long-running Fantastic Four comic, because what better way to ensure the other kids can't play with your toys than to set them on fire? Marvel absolutely would've done the same with X-Men, except they're still too popular for an outright canning. But it's (probably) coming. Enough go-nowhere stories, with no new faces and no living Logan and the entire mutant world will end with a whimper. Until Fox forks over the rights, and then BOOM, everybody had faked their deaths at the same time.
The Original Writers And Creators Don't Get Shit From The Films
Despite Deadpool's adorable insistence that writers are "the real heroes here," the comic and movie industries work overtime to keep that heroism as unsung (and unpaid) as legally possible. Because why bother rewarding someone for their ideas if they're not pretty enough to act them out?
This is a nice way to hide the fact that the movie was written by putting Spider-Man comics
in a blender with a Reddit thread.
Obviously, writers get paid for their original ideas, but thanks to an industry-wide practice called work-for-hire, once they get their writing check, that's it. They don't own anything they create, and they certainly don't receive royalties should their characters or storylines make it into the movies. They probably don't even get discounted popcorn when paying to see their stories play out at the local cinema. They're basically creative broodmares, cranking out art babies and immediately giving them up to handlers who will pretend they birthed the thing all along.
It's not just the anonymous drawing board slaves that get fucked, either. Jack Kirby, the legendary genius behind hundreds of characters for both Marvel and DC? He never got a thing beyond his weekly salary, which while meager was still more than his estate has gotten since his 1994 passing. This despite his creations -- including such nobodies as The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and virtually every Avenger -- making comic conglomerates billions upon billions of dollars. His children eventually got an undisclosed amount from Marvel, but only because they threatened the company with a Supreme Court smackdown. That's apparently what it takes to reward the idea guy who shaped your industry: a legal AK-47 to the skull.
On top of everything, he had to work while being constantly assaulted by flying dwarfs.
Stan Lee, the public face of Marvel, fares little better. Sure, he's in every Marvel movie and goes to all the conventions and whatnot, but he makes about as much off these films as you do. As he revealed to CNN, he receives no profits off the films, and his executive producer title is pure honorary hokum -- he might as well be "Mega-Super Ultra-Cool Superhero Jesus Man" for all the financial good it does him.
Even when writers go as far as to cast characters for the movies, they don't get anything more than their usual barely existent pay. Just ask the guy who changed Nick Fury from a crusty old white man into Samuel L.M.F. Jackson.
Sadly, the movies ignored the part about him having pizza in his mouth at all times.
Not that shit happening the other way around is any better ...
The Films Are Starting To Change The Comics
The Nick Fury that wore Samuel L. Jackson's face like a dead skin mask was originally an alternate Fury, from the Ultimate Marvel Universe -- Old White Dude Fury was still the default. But thanks to Marvel Studios running with Jackson Fury (which would be both a great band name and a great porn pseudonym), Marvel Comics followed suit and retired Hasselhoff Fury in 2012, replacing him with his son, Nick Junior. Who happens to be black. And bald. And has an eye patch.
Even the characters agree this is the stupidest shit they've ever read.
This is far from the only time comic books have screwed with classic characters and settings to keep in lock-step with the 500-inch idiot box. For decades, the X-Men wore colorful spandex, because their world might hate them and spit on them for who they are, but that doesn't mean they can't look springtime jaunty while dealing with it. When Hollywood slapped them in all-black like it was the 1920s and Charlie Chaplin was playing Magneto, the comics suddenly de-colored too.
How will we know who's Wolverine?!
Hawkeye once wore a shitload of purple and blue, with a mask sharper than any arrow in existence ...
... until the movies decided Jeremy Renner's doe eyes and pouty lips are simply too pretty to cover up, and like magic the comics quickly agreed.
Real pants?! Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are rolling in their graves.
And then there's Star-Lord from Guardians Of The Galaxy, who had several costumes over the years, but the running theme was that he always looked like some kind of space cop:
The man does not have a good eye for helmets.
Then along came Hollywood, who took advantage of how nobody knew who this character was and turned him into Space Indiana Jones ... so that's what the comics are going with now too.
All these changes would be understandable if turning the comics into graphic novelizations of Hollywood blockbusters made the company money in any way. Unfortunately ...
Comics Sales Are Going Down, Not Up
In perhaps history's most blatant case of "Why read when you can always not read?" comic book sales are way down, but only if the comic competes with a movie. Watercolor Tony Stark can speech-bubble all the words he wants, but they apparently mean nothing unless Robert Downey Jr. actually says them.
A quick look at most any sales chart proves this. Books about The Avengers fare shockingly poorly considering how massively popular their films are. The Hulk, for example, started a new series back in 2014 and it sold a whopping 44,000 copies -- awkwardly putting him under Batgirl and Aquaman, who haven't had a movie in decades and never, respectively.
And needed Khal Drogo to keep people from laughing at the idea outright.
But that was two years ago, you say. Maybe people appreciate loose leaf more than HD these days? Ha, nope. January 2016 sales figures place Superman at #47, Hulk at #40, and Batman at #8. Brucie had the top-selling comic of 2014, but you know what he didn't have that year? A movie. Bats' comic book numbers magically dip the year Ben Affleck growled him back to big-screen life, so if he's going to be in all these DC Universe films now, the Wayne fortune is about to shrink quite a bit.
Shit, the same thing even happens to Star Wars. In 2015, the wacky adventures of Luke and his Papa owned 19 of the top 50 sales spots, including #1. By January 2016, shortly after The Force Awakens came out, they only owned four spots, with that month's #1 spot going to The Walking Dead instead (TV works better than film, apparently). Since Disney plans to turn "new Star Wars" into an annual tradition, like the Super Bowl or flossing, don't expect the paperback Skywalkers to come roaring back anytime soon.
Some Skywalkers may not even have a book.
Same goes for Iron Man, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, and any other hero you're about to see on the big screen every goddamn year. They might get a quickie hype-driven sales boost, but ultimately the movies always win. Enjoy being in the top 25, Doctor Strangelovitz. It's all downhill from here.
Anything That Isn't Marvel Or DC Is Getting Thrown On The Back Burner
Thanks to Hollywood, comic book companies have basically turned into political parties, in that people give a shit about only two of them, while everyone else frantically fights for any slight scrap of attention. Do you honestly think Warner Bros. (who owns DC Comics) and Disney (who owns ... everything, including Marvel) give two super-shits about any character they don't have completely in their pockets? No way -- third-party asides like Dark Horse Comics might as well not exist, to the unending disappointment of anybody holding their breath for Hellboy 3.
Or Sin Ci- never mind.
Then there's Vertigo Comics, whose titles beat Hollywood to the gritty reboot punch by drowning in grit from Page 1, Panel 1 on. Vertigo is a DC imprint, but if the characters don't have muscles and revealing tights, Warner Bros. couldn't care less about them. Anything that doesn't fit with their Justice League universe has been delegated to New Line Cinema, who might get around to releasing Vertigo movies sometime, maybe (unless another Horrible Bosses sequel doesn't monopolize their time). At one point, Guillermo del Toro was set to make a "supernatural horror Justice League" film, but New Line dicked him around for so long that he stepped off.
We almost had a del Toro Swamp Thing movie and a del Toro Hellblazer movie at the same time.
It keeps going. Warner Bros. had a film adaptation of the classic manga Death Note on their calendar, but have now given up on it, presumably because it's really hard to shoehorn a guy who kills by writing his enemies' names in a book into scenes where he quips delightfully with The Flash.
By now, the only real hope for superhero film fans sick of the unending Avengers and Justice League monopolies is Valiant Entertainment, who is apparently dead-set on creating a cinematic universe of its own (of characters 99 percent of the population has never heard of). They've signed a five-picture deal with Sony, got DMG Entertainment to pay them nine figures to make more films, and plan to sign more deals with more studios to make even more movies soon enough. Basically, they're seeing us drown in an ocean of too many superheroes, and feel the solution is to cover us in water from another ocean.
This may prove to be the move that finally bursts the bubble of all things superheroically cinematic, but at least then we won't have to continue seeing the poor Waynes and Uncle Ben get capped over and over.
Jason is on Facebook and Twitter, at least until The Avengers and Justice League read this and hire The Punisher to fucking waste him.
For more depressing realities of comic book films, check out 5 Problems In The Background Of Every Superhero Movie and 5 Ways The Rules Of Reality Ruin Superhero Movies.
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