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Secret Origins II: The Evolution Of Screen’s Depiction Of The Superhero Part 4

Written by Chris Spence

This article is Part 4 of a 5-part series. You can read the rest of the series here.

Dark Times Ahead

Tim Burton’s Batman, although being released in 1989, started the ‘dark’ superhero movie trend of the 1990’s.  In social terms, the attitude of the period was most notable for being cynical and ironic, hence making the superheroes more dark.  The dark element in actuality meant a return to a real world aesthetic and more of a consequence to onscreen violence.  No more “kapow” or “wham”; when people were hit they got hurt.  Burton’s Batman Returns (1992), the follow-up to his hit Batman, and The Crow (1994) starring the late Brandon Lee are the best examples of that particular artistic vision.

Joel Schumacher, the man in the director’s chair for 1995’s Batman Forever and its follow-up Batman & Robin in 1997, bucked the dark trend for the reestablishment of more light and campy tone.   Although Batman Forever gained reasonably positive box office returns, critics received it with very mixed reviews.  The luke-warm reception of Batman Forever led to a massive drop off of box office attendance for the sequel.  Schumacher’s two entries in the Batman movie franchise almost singlehandedly killed off any interest in superhero movies for a time.  At the very least, they curtailed the release of any Batman movies for nearly a decade until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005.

Marvel released their first proper foray into big screen superheroes in 1998 with Blade starring Wesley Snipes as the eponymous vampire slayer and directed by Stephen Norrington.  Blade returned comic book movies to the previous 90’s inclination of solemnity, realism (to a point) and, more importantly, darkness.   Most significantly, Marvel started to give a reverence to their own characters and treat them with the sincerity they deserve while also pushing them into the spot light.

To Be Concluded!

About the author

Chris Spence

You can read more of Chris' work on his blog http://filmandmoviehotspot.blogspot.co.uk/ and follow him on Twitter @TheRetroSamurai