November 10, 2008
Even though I am a huge fan of the superhero Batman series starring Christian Bale, I do believe we're reached a saturation point where Hollywood is thrashing out any superhero brand it can get its hands on. Today, Marvel Studios announced that Joe Johnston, whose credits include "Jurassic Park III" and "Jumanji," has been signed to direct "The First Avenger: Captain America." Quite frankly, I don't know that I am even remotely excited about this film. I read the comic book as a kid from time to time, but like most mainstream America, truly only cared for the "big three" superheroes: Batman, Superman, and Spiderman.
Superheroes rose to prominence in comic books which were later adapted into Saturday morning cartoons aimed at kids. The first adaptation was a 12 chapter film series in 1941 "The Adventures of Captain America." Fast forward a few decades and in 1978, the movie "Superman" was first introduced with actor Christopher Reeve donning the red cape and bearing the Superman "S" on his chest. This was an epic superhero film and only blockbuster superhero film of the decade, but it did open the door to other movies such as "Superman II" (1980), and towards the end of the decade, Tim Burton's "Batman" (1989).
Hollywood give me a break? Not quite yet. Suddenly a Pandora box unleashed, several superhero films were made including: "The Punisher" (1989), "Dick Tracy" (1990), "The Shadow" (1994), and "The Phantom" (1996). Of course, this laid the breeding ground to many other notable superhero movies only a decade later: "X-Men" (2000), "Spiderman" series (2002-07), "Batman" series (2005-07) - the biggest superhero films of all time "The Dark Knight" - "Hulk" series (2003-08), and a plethora of many, many more.
So while there is no future shortage of upcoming superhero films - get ready for "Iron Man 2" (May 7, 2010), "The First Avenger: Captain America" (May 6, 2011). Marvel is also teaming Captain America with Downey's Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor and other superheroes to form the "The Avengers" (July 15, 2011) - I am ready to give it a rest, and my forecast is that many Americans are likely to give it a rest as well. So while Hollywood may be producing many more superhero films, I believe it will go the route of many critter jitter movies (all those animated movies with farm and wildlife creatures) where one day we wake up and we no longer feel obligated to run to theaters to see the latest animated film from DreamWorks or Pixar. Then again, with "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" opening the weekend with $63 million I may be completely off my rocker and live to eat these words.