Modern superheroes are taking more money from civilians than their villains ever dreamed of, but it's the same few heroes being replicated more often than the dollar bills they're earning. Every Superman movie since 1980 has been a mistake, there are enough Batmen for a Bat-Basketball team, they rebooted Spider-Man like it was two hours of blue screen of death (which would still have been better than Spider-Man 3), and Iron Man has appeared in more entertainment gossip pieces than the actor who plays him.
Not so much method acting as giving the coolest guy the coolest stuff.
The whole point of superheroes is imagining things above and beyond what's possible. (I've already come up with 6 Ways to Build a Better Batman.) "Strong guy hits people" and "rich guy wins over the homeless" are already far too common in the real world, never mind cinema. The industry has gotten so desperate that news of an Ant-Man movie wasn't followed by laughter and the real announcement. Ant-Man's only qualification for superheroing is being invented around the same time as tie-dye clothing and unprotected group sex, and being a worse idea than both. Comics are stuffed with superheroes who would make much better heroes.
The X-Men are the most diversely powered superhuman group in fictional history, so it's strange that their only spinoff is "White Guy With Knives, Twice." He's already come back from one unsuccessful movie that should have killed him off (Marvel may have confused superheroes with slasher movies). An angry man waving knives around isn't a movie franchise, it's your father carving Thanksgiving dinner.
"It's time you got an honest job doing situps all day like me!"
If you want spinoff movies -- and Marvel knows that every addition to the film franchise is at least $100 million, so they really do -- the X-Men have more interesting characters than every soap opera in history fighting to the death inside a nuclear reactor. And the most moviegenic is Hisako "Armor" Ichiki. Armor is a badass girl with a robot suit made entirely of psychic special effects. There is no nerd money that combination of niches wouldn't earn.
When she dresses in pink, it's to punch your face in.
Did we mention it can scale in size, making Armor the only person who can think "Pacific Rim is awesome" so hard that it actually happens?
Hisako doesn't take no drift from nobody.
An awesome female lead and an ability that kicks ass when it's active, but doesn't render her permanently immune from harm (it's hard to build tension when the hero's only power is "can't actually be killed," Logan). As a teenage girl who could stomp the sharpened weasel into two-dimensionality, she seems specifically written to take the piss out of Wolverine. And he's had two tries already.
When she flicks a V, it stands for "Very Badly Wounded."
Iron Man is more cinematically popular than popcorn. He's made more money for Marvel in our world than he ever did in his, and his entire power set is "making awesome new things." He's the perfect launch point for a spinoff. And the comics have already introduced one.
The Rescue armor
Rescue is what happens when Tony finally builds something that can't be misused by bad guys. The way he said he would three movies ago. I'm no security expert, but when your suits have been used in attempts to assassinate the president of the United States, you might not have reduced your contribution to terrorism.
"The real terror is what this techno-corset built for a man half my belt size is doing to my kidneys."
Rescue is an unarmed repulsor-powered protection and rescue system, and he gave it to longtime ally Pepper Potts because he knew he couldn't wear it for 40 seconds without hot-wiring a plasma cannon into the codpiece. And never mind civilians: Rescue could save superhero movies. Keeping these inhuman ass-kickers interesting has become a serious problem. We need new story structures beyond "Here's a good guy and a bad guy and some rocket punching and now just a good guy." Do you have any idea how bad things have to get before I say something bad about rocket punching? Rescue offers a whole new arena for awesome special effects: the superhero disaster movie.
Disaster movies are big business, but they've always been crippled by a ridiculous lack of real conflict. When your only hero against the rising oceans of bullshit is an earnest stubbly man with a laptop, you're just marking time till the 80-minute mark so he can shout "Wait a minute!" and technobabble it all away.
Now imagine a movie where someone could punch 2012 in the face!
And if any movie ever deserved it, it's 2012.
Instead of churning out villains who fail to threaten the immortally armored hero -- remember, it only took them two movies to shrug and say "Let's try that guy with whips" -- you can have your hero fighting an unlimited special effects-fest. A Rescue movie would be the ultimate crossover, not between heroes, but entire genres, a clash of cataclysm-level computer graphics in a whole new field of cinema excessexiness. And that field would be erupting into a supervolcano underneath a crashing space station.
"I'm an ultimate supergenius with the most advanced equipment ever made!"
"Cool, what are you going to do with it?"
"... iunno. Punch people, I guess."
Punch people AWESOMELY.
Superhero movies shouldn't be a single genre. Right now they all boil down to super-Rocky -- get beaten, get angry, get back -- and that's awesome, but punching people shouldn't be your only strategy when you've got more electronics than the NSA's Christmas list. Superheroes should strike in every genre of movie, and Oracle offers the most intriguing: the superheist.
Barbara Gordon is Oracle, Gotham's ultrahacker, the only mastermind in the city coordinating groups of people against crime. Heist movies make so much money that even Ocean's Eleven got two sequels, and their only superpower was George Clooney's photogeny. Imagine a heist in the heights of Gotham spires, retrieving information about an evil kingpin's secret plans, with heroes like Black Canary, Shiva, and Lady Blackhawk. All heist movies have characters who are practically superhuman in their single specific skill anyway. Might as well make it official.
In fact, if we could just make this movie in the meantime, that would be awesome.
Make the bad guy the Riddler and he can finally become as cool in the movies as he is in the Arkham games. The superheist is a huge pile of money on the table just waiting to be taken. Which is also usually the plot of these movies.
Marvel's strategy has always been stitching together as many titles as possible. In the '70s, you needed a degree in string theory just to follow all the interlinking issue numbers. They gambled on giving every Avenger a movie before the big ensemble, and it paid off with almost all the money there is, so now they're going back to cover the Avengers they missed.
And by "go back" they mean "Go back 50 years to when someone was stupid enough to think Ant-Man should be on the same team as Thor."
"Let's see: immortal god, unbeatable monster, hyperintelligent weapon of mass destruction, really small people. Excelsior!"
(Note hyperintelligent Tony Stark giving himself a clause to get away from those assholes right at the start.)
Ant-Man! The worst Avenger ever, and that's a position with more serious sucking competition than the Best Oral Sex Scene award. And we're getting him before Black Widow, the elite Russian superspy who's already been in two major movies. The Avenger who killed more bad guys with a catsuit than Captain America did with a World War II superdrug from back when the regulations on human testing were "The Germans are going to kill him anyway." Hell, Marvel gave Hulk two tries at a movie before he had to team up with anyone else, and his entire character arc is "Bloo bloo I don't wanna hit people HITTING PEOPLE." If there was any justice, Black Widow would have stolen James Bond's franchise by now, never mind gotten her own.
When someone lists the reasons they don't want a Black Widow movie, they're actually outputting a personality error report.
Black Widow could bring us the superespionage movie. A story of intelligence trumping extrahumanity, where all-powerful idiots are countered by cunning instead of by someone who's even better at being a hammer.
DC Bonus: DC could flesh out their new movie universe with all kinds of espionage ass-kicking by Amanda Waller, the kind of superspy who emerges from the shadows behind Batman to tell him when he's being a dick. (We've already covered her awesomeness here.)
"Maybe if you gave the GCPD a Bat-computer you wouldn't have to personally solve every murder in the damn city!"
The real lesson of superheroes is that anyone can rise above and become a hero. Just look at all those who've led single-superhero major motion pictures since Batman Begins revolutionized the field.
It seems superheroism is secreted by Caucasian testicles. Which is weird, because heroes aren't empowered by prostate control (although we're sure Batman has mastered that to prepare against possible conflict with Cold Fingered Doctor Man). We have more green heroes than black ones, and that's not a color human beings are.
Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are DC's holy trinity of heroes, representing bright and shining justice, dark and brooding vengeance, and being a girl. And if you think that's a little unbalanced, check out how many cinematic releases they've had.
Right now you should be seeing red.
Bat-nipples have had more major motion pictures than Wonder Woman. Superman's stupid logo-throwing has more big-budget movie canon than Wonder Woman's entire existence.
After watching it, most people do something similar with the DVD.
And now Ant-Man is getting his own movie. We're prepared to have the worst possible man before the most wonderful woman. We'd rather a hero famous for beating women than being one.
And she's really not surprised, this being the exact kind of shit she came to our world to fight.
Sure, Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman. Now go back and look at that title. She's a supporting character in another character's second movie. That's the same billing as Harvey Dent and General Zod, characters who exist only to highlight parts of the real hero. And we should already be bracing for the inevitable superdick-waving "Who's she going to bang, OH SNAP she turns them both down, which is meant to make this empowering even though the woman's entire character interaction is still defined by whether she'll have sex with someone." A contract with a nebulous possibility of a solo movie after she's completed her chores in everyone else's films doesn't quite cut it.
Fans are so ready for a Wonder Woman movie that they're already making their own. They're not just offering their money, they're spending months making awesome videos about how much they want to hand it over.
There's a lot of rubbish spouted about why WW hasn't already been on the screen. They tell us there isn't a market for it, that it's not a good investment, and that's horseshit. Hollywood spent over $200 million on Waterworld. Waterworld. That's the quadruple-u movie we get. They'll take more financial risks on a man pissing on a raft than a Greek goddess of ass-kicking.
Nostalgia harvesting has gone so far that we've got a goddamn Battleship movie -- Battleship, the way 8-year-olds used to say "I'm really bored and we don't have a Nintendo" -- and we don't have Wonder Woman? Lynda Carter alone ensured that an entire generation would pay money the instant it came out in cinemas.
Hasbro, Warner Bros
Movies think that, after growing up, people now care more about the left than the right.
While Superman fights such incredible menaces as "a bald guy" and "his asshole buddies from back home," and Batman beats up the mentally handicapped, Wonder Woman's villains are the entire Greek pantheon of gods and monsters. That's spectacular cinema just waiting to happen.
And DC needs something spectacular to catch up with Marvel. They might as well try something crazy, like noticing more than half of the human race.
Behold the nerd rage in 6 Ways Iron Man Is Objectively Better Than Batman, or see some real superheroism in The 12 Best Moments from Mexico's Least Subtle Monster Movie.
Do you have a pop culture muse? Channel it in our T-shirt latest contest and you could win $500.