The Official Watchmen Poster
Comics are taking over Hollywood. This is not a drill. This is reality. Or, coincidentally, hyper reality. The world of superheroes and superheroines, capes and crusaders, tights and tightly wound villains will be dominating our screens in 2012. It has been a growing trend, but when you look at the upcoming slate of blockbusters it's clear to see the takeover is complete.
Take The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final Batman film to be directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as the billionaire vigilante. It's the most anticipated film of the year and after its predecessor The Dark Knight grossed over $US1 billion, early predictions tip the July 19 release to set new box office records. Yet it's not the only film lifted straight from comic book panels that's vying for the audience dollar in 2012, with Marc Webb's reboot of Spider-Man - The Amazing Spider-Man - out three weeks earlier. Add to that Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Dredd and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days - to name a few. In a world where film studios are looking for the safe bet at the box office - hence the remake, reboot and sequel culture - comic book movies have become the sure thing. Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger were two of the big hits of 2011, while even flops like Green Lantern still get green lit for a sequel. James Jagic, manager of Queensland's oldest comic store Comics Etc in Brisbane, said part of their appeal is they have a "different feel'' to a regular action film. There's also the built-in audience to consider. Titles like Batman and Superman have been around since the 1930s, with several generations of fans already invested and interested in the characters before they hit the big screen.
Marvel's superhero movie to end all superhero movies, The Avengers, is out in May and is set to cash in on this fanbase. Directed by Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, it will feature iconic characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and others together on film for the first time. British actor Tom Hiddleston plays the villain in the film, Loki, and said comic book characters and storylines have become generationally important.
"I think that's what Marvel is now - comics and superheroes and super villains - it's the modern version of mythology,'' he said.
"You have Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, there's just a depth of pain and experience to them.
"Part of the reason we love them is despite that, they always choose to do the right thing.'' Arguably one of the reasons we're being inundated with more comic book movies than ever is the most influential directors in Hollywood grew up reading and appreciating comics. Directors like J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Christopher Nolan and Robert Rodriguez grew up as fanboys and now they're calling the shots. "The thing with Chris Nolan is he was writing comics for 15 years before he became a filmmaker, not many people know that,'' said Mr Jagic.
"He wrote Justice Society which was a spin-off of Justic League and Joss (Whedon) did Buffy (The Vampire Slayer), but he's gone on to write comics across a number of titles. "It used to be a special event when someone from books or movies went across to comics, now it's the norm.
"Damon Lindelof (Lost, Strar Trek) is doing a Wolverine run and Stephen King does comics every month, at least three or four of them.''
Although Mr Jagic said the box office returns from the films is still strong, he expects people to "get sick'' of the genre soon. Just not too soon. Already 2013 is to be as equally packed as 2012 with comic book movies such as Man Of Steel, Green Lantern 2, Iron Man 3, 300: Battle Of Artemisia, Thor 2, Sin City 2, The Wolverine, Kick Ass 2, X-Men First Class 2 and The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun slated for release.