The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



The world still needs superheroes

Juan Ramon Cancio Vela | Monday, September 23, 2013

To anyone paying attention to the comic book industry’s recent success in the box office, it should be immediately apparent that Marvel is the top dog in comic book hero films as of late.  It seems that there is an unrelenting slew of Marvel movies in theaters, each better than the last. Of course, the climax of their recently established successful franchises was the Avengers movie released last summer, however, more important than the monetary success that this film no doubt achieved was the fact that Marvel clearly showcased the brute strength it has accrued in recent years.

It would seem that Marvel has gained quite the lead in the film industry over its direct competitor, DC comics. This is in large part due to the establishment of franchises such as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. These franchises individually have provided Marvel with opportunities for several movies, but then have also come together to form the Avengers movie – which I would argue has instantly cemented the Avengers as a new extremely lucrative franchise. This is quite different from DC’s recent attempts at making major blockbuster films, among which only the Nolan Batman series has been equally profitable.

Unfortunately for DC, the Superman movies have not achieved the same resounding success as their Batman counterparts have. However, it would appear that DC is taking notice of the appeal of crossover titles, DC recently announced that Batman would make an onscreen appearance alongside the Man of Steel in the next Superman movie. This announcement has been accompanied by rumors of possible standalone titles for the Flash and for Wonder Woman, which enthusiasts hope would surpass or match the success achieved by the Avengers movie.  

In any event, this is all benefitting comic book aficionados the world over. Each movie, from both competitors, seems to be successfully pushing the quality of comic book hero movies ever higher. This recent success has also opened up the possibility to bring new characters and series from both camps onto the big screen. As mentioned before, DC is now considering making movies for the Flash and Wonder Woman. As for Marvel, they have recently announced that they have decided to make a movie for Ant-Man, less recognizable than icons like the X-Men or the Avengers. Personally, I find the news of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie far more enticing than any of the other possibilities.

            Marvel announced that they would be making a film adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, and followed up at this year’s Comic Con by introducing the all-star cast portraying the characters and director James Gunn to all of the excited Marvel fans. The more notable actors being featured in the film are: Chris Pratt (who you may know from Parks and Recreation), Zoe Saldana (who played Neytiri in Avatar), Dave Batista (formerly on WWE), and Benicio del Toro (Che) among many others. Although Guardians of the Galaxy is a relatively unknown comic book series, it seems like an awesome new way to expand the Marvel repertoire into a yet- untapped source. I myself have read some of the Guardians’ comic books, and I must say I was tremendously excited to hear they were planning on adapting the series into a movie, the characters in this series are complicated multilayered people/animals (in the case of Rocket Raccoon) who all have very different attitudes and perspectives on life. Marvel has already begun filming the movie, as of this summer, and is planning on bringing that to us in August of next year.

             This next endeavor, alongside movies such as Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier will no doubt help Marvel solidify its current position as the invariable superhero film behemoth success of the moment. That having been said, Marvel is now trying to expand into television with the new series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” set to air on ABC at eight o’clock this coming Tuesday the 24th. This also strikes me as interesting because although DC does not appear to have enjoyed as much success as Marvel on the silver screen, they do seem to have garnered relatively more success with series such as Smallvile (origin story of Superman) and Green Arrow. It should stand to reason that Marvel will be able to make a successful run at television with this new show, seeing as how it presently has so much momentum but that has yet to be seen.

            All of this recent superhero news makes me wonder what the future holds for actual comic books. Could it be that print or perhaps e-comics will be making a comeback with younger generations as these recent movies drive children’s tastes toward the Marvel and DC universe? Or has a golden age of comic books perhaps seen its last page turners and moved on to different media? These are interesting questions, so interesting in fact that they pushed Disney to acquire Marvel Entertainment back in 2009. Clearly, there will always be a special place in our hearts for the battle between good and evil played out between g superheroes and super villains. Perhaps it is also comforting to distract ourselves from our world’s woes with these awesome imaginary heroes, who inspire us even when the real world can’t.