Jonathan Barker – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – The origin and popularity of comic books expanded from the printed page to the cinema this century, pushing the boundaries of what can be filmed as well as becoming a billion dollar industry.
Among the most recognizable comic book companies is Marvel Comics. Started in 1961 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel is responsible for the creation of superheroes such as Spiderman, The Fantastic Four and The Avengers.
However, the first superheroes of pop culture, Batman and Superman, came from Marvel’s rival DC Comics.
After originating in comics, “Batman” became a popular tv show in the late 1960’s, starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The show was full of campy superhero comedy, setting the standard for everything after.
Batman has seen many actors don the bat suit. The 1989 film “Batman“ and 1992 sequel “Batman Returns” saw Michael Keaton as the bat vigilante. 1995’s “Batman Forever” starring Val Kilmer and 1999’s “Batman and Robin” starring George Clooney, though faithful to the source material, fell short of critical and financial expectations and caused a lack of Batman until 2005.
In 2005 Christopher Nolan began his “Dark Knight” trilogy, a dark and gritty adaptation of Batman headlining Christian Bale as Batman. All three films, 2005’s “Batman Returns“, 2008’s The “Dark Knight“ and 2011’s “Dark Knight Rises” attained critical and commercial acclaim, earning over $2.5 billion collectively.
In 1978, “Superman,” the first live-action movie adaptation of the comic, was released to critical acclaim and proved to be a blockbuster, earning over $300 million in its initial run.
The beginning of acclaim for Marvel began in 2002 with the release of Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman.” With an 89% on review aggregate “RottenTomatoes,” it successfully started the trilogy as well as creating the modern formula of the superhero movie, including the first cameo appearance from Lee, Marvel’s pioneering creator.
LRHS Senior Spencer Laney claims this to be his favorite superhero movie.
“The semi-outdated effects and the hearty and minor humor compliment the movie almost too well,” he said.
The beginning of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was 2008’s “Iron Man” starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the conflicted titular character. Beyond the acclaim and over $400 million return was the setup to the mega movie “The Avengers.”
The introductions of the other Avengers through 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk,” 2011’s “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” appropriately set up the hype for the sensational 2012 release of “Marvel’s the Avengers,” the ultimate crossover of Marvel’s most prolific superheroes.
The movie earned a record breaking $1.5 billion, the most of any superhero movie at the time.
Freshman Luke Johnson’s all-time favorite movie is “The Avengers.”
“It has everything I could want out of a superhero movie, as well as every hero I would ever need in a movie,” he commented.
Marvel continues to add quality installments to their catalog as well as welcoming new superheroes to the cinematic universe, like 2015’s “Ant-Man,” 2016’s “Deadpool,” and 2017’s “Doctor Strange.”
Sophomore Colton McQuillen prefers Marvel to DC.
“Marvel makes movies that are fun and exciting. DC movies are always dull,” he said.
Since the “Dark Knight,” the DC Extended Universe has unsuccessfully attempted to compete with the MCU, releasing critical and box office failures including 2011’s “Green Lantern” and 2016’s “Suicide Squad.”