You hear a lot about comic book movie fatigue at the multiplex. Is this true, or are there good reasons to keep watching comic book movies? Behold, dear reader, 5 reasons to watch comic book movies. Excelsior!
Reason #1 – It’s not a genre
A comic is just a format, like a painting or a standard film; it is not a genre in and of itself; rather, it is a way of presenting information to the audience. This means that comics don’t have to specifically indicate a “superhero” story. In fact, it being a comic doesn’t really say anything about the story at all, except that it has art panels and dialog bubbles, which is basically a storyboard for a film. So someone who says “I don’t like comic book movies” might as well be saying “I don’t like movies based on literature” or “I don’t like movies with music”. It’s pretty meaningless, unless they are indicating that they don’t like movies whatsoever.
Once a person is aware of this it, opens up so many new avenues of enjoyment. Maybe you don’t like musclebound guys in tights who punch their problems. If you are a noir fan you might enjoy Sin City. If you are more into a coming of age story with all the problems of becoming your own person, perhaps you should check out Ghost World. If you are an old guy that isn’t quite ready for retirement then perhaps RED is for you. If you are a science fiction fan then perhaps Men in Black would fit the bill. I mean, can anyone really consider American Splendor, Scott Pilgrim, A History of Violence, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, Road to Perdition, Dredd, Persepolis, Blue is the Warmest Color, Oldboy and the Mask to be the same kind of film that only appeals to a certain demographic?
Reason #2 – They don’t have to be serious, but they can be
Certain fans try to hold all comic books to the same standards as high art. Yes there are comics such as Maus and Watchmen, where their subject matter is poignant and can be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be shattering our view of the world, or that those are the only comics that matter. There are camp movies, such as the 1966 Adam West Batman, the animated rock concert of Heavy Metal, a documentary on the quite possibly alien Crumb, and the throwback film the Phantom with villains straight from the 40’s. That does not, however, mean that all comic book movies have to be witty, or weird, or for all ages. It’s this balance of different tastes, perspectives and styles that make it such a cool hobby in the first place. It’s fine for everyone to have their own favorites, just remember that it’s also OK for everyone to not love the same thing.
Reason #3 – They can be serialized
People love binge watching TV shows. They like seeing what will happen next to their favorite characters in different circumstances. Prior to a couple decades ago it was unheard of to have a comic book cinematic universe, but that is no longer the case. It’s amazing to be able to see major superhero comic characters on the big screen, but it isn’t just helping the major players. It’s good to see that Preacher, Constantine, Daredevil, the Walking Dead and many others are given TV shows to gauge interest in those characters. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out, either due to cancellations or lack of quality, but the fact that TV studios are trying different things could give fans of comics hope to one day see their own favorites in some form.
My point here is support what you like. If something new is coming out that you are interested in, don’t wait to catch it later. Watch it when it comes out, talk to your friends about it. Post about it online. We always read about stuff that sucks, but it’s also good to point out what something did right and what we want to see more of. Beyond that, in this day and age, you vote with your dollar and your viewing time. Let those in power know you like a show by watching it and talking about it!
Reason #4 – Great actors are involved
If you were born in the 90’s or afterwards you probably take this for granted, but for those of us who are little bit older it means more. Before DC stepped on the scene with the Superman motion picture it was common for comic book adaptations and serials to contain nothing but B movie actors or out-of-work fading stars. Christopher Reeve was a newcomer, but having both Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando was a real coup for the studio and gave the film instant credibility. The same can be said for the Tim Burton Batman film with a cast of Keaton, Nicholson, and Basinger.
Modern films, by comparison, have just about crushed it by having practically every conceivable big name and award winning actor in the business. Of course the opposite is also true, where you have a genius filmmaker like Alejandro Jodorowsky, who can’t get funding for an idea or complete control over his projects. Jodorowsky ended up deciding to turn his stories into comic books, but that is a different discussion for another time.
Reason #5 – It’s OK to be nostalgic
When you were little, did you have Spider-Man pajamas? Did you jump from furniture to furniture pretending to shoot webs, while your mom yelled at you for wearing your shoes in the house, but you still awkwardly tried to get your dad to videotape you doing all these insane acrobatics in the living room? For Halloween, did you have one of those plastic Batman masks with a rubber band that was held together with staples that dug into the side of your head, but you didn’t care about the pain because you had a towel as a cape and just knew you were cool as hell? Yeah, that never happened to me either, but it is OK to remember whatever did happen in your childhood fondly!
Just because you are starting to get older and have more responsibilities doesn’t mean you should forget your nerdy passions. Grab some Blu-ray copies of your favorite stuff and geek out. Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be a fan of Batman v Superman or Funko Pop figures or anything else. If you have kids, share your stories and experiences with them. It doesn’t matter if it is Calvin & Hobbes or Wolverine, you should embrace what you enjoyed and hopefully still enjoy, and share it. Unless of course your favorite character is Eugene Root, in which case I can’t help you, but if you will walk over to the nice man with the white coat we will get you fixed up with a padded room of your own.