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Secret Origins II: The Evolution Of Screens Depiction Of The Superhero Part 5

Written by Chris Spence

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

Turning The Tide 

Comic book movies from the 2000’s until now have moved towards a tendency to be faithful to, and genuine representations of, the comic book source material.  They have a leaning towards being self-referential too.  For example, in Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000), Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine incredulously asks James Marsden’s Cyclops, when presented with the team’s leather garb, whether they actually go out in them.  Cyclops then retorts “What would you prefer? Yellow Spandex?”,  a reference to the bright yellow and black suit that the comic book Wolverine wears.  A lot of gags and in-jokes within comic book films are in themselves references to the source material; a knowing wink to those of us in the audience who admire and follow the medium.

Christopher Nolan took this respectful attitude a touch further by treating Batman and his world as if it is firmly grounded in a (semblance) of reality.   He tackled a trilogy of Batman films with Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).  Whereas Tim Burton’s attitude was to mold the world around the perceived ludicrousness of the Batman character and make it as outlandish as him, Nolan took the opposite approach.  He took the (mostly) real world environment and sculpted a Batman that was more grounded and seemed less illogical or preposterous (what’s so weird about a guy in a bat suit tackling muggers, anyway?).

The Mask Is To Protect Those Around You
With the advent of computer-generated effects, there is no longer a limit to what can be represented on the screen.  Before, when practical effects had to be relied upon, only so much could be shown.  In that regard, not all superheroes or stories could be presented as there were some things that only art on the comic book page could show.  Nowadays, as presented in 2012’s Avengers by Joss Whedon, New York can be seen to be destroyed by an invading interdimensional army, then saved by a group of Marvel’s finest heroes.  This just wouldn’t have been possible even 15 years ago, let alone in George Reeves’ day.

As long as there are comic books and superheroes, there will be television and cinema representations of the characters.  There will forever endure a desire to see heroes’ daring deeds on screen and this craving has grown steadily since the turn of the millennium.  Additionally, superhero films, like all movies, help to shine a light on society as a whole.  As I’ve tried to show, superhero television shows and films can help to display a snapshot of societal development.  As with any great art, however, what you put in you ultimately get out.  Some people just see big muscled guys hitting one another!

…(Not Nearly) The End!

 

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