Ever since superheroes first appeared on four-colour pages, people have wanted to see them in live-action. Today, with special effects having caught up to the point where these stories can actually be filmed believably, we as an audience have been gorging on the all-you-can-eat buffet of superhero films that have been released over the last decade and a half. But our hunger to see all of our favourite characters and storylines has yet to be sated.
And the sad truth is, we probably won’t see most of them any time soon. Not on the big screen anyway. But we might, just might, see these heroes and villains and their many battles brought to life in fan films.
For those who don’t know, fan films are films made by fans (duh) that feature characters from other established works, including comics, books, TV shows, movies, really anything. Basically the film version of fan fiction. Legally, fan films cannot be made for profit, but can still be released for public consumption.
We at AP2HYC are big supporters of superhero fan films. About a year ago, I spoke with Chris Notarile and Damian Vargas about their attempt to make a Deadpool webseries, and more recently we’ve been chatting with the team behind Nightwing: Prodigal. Now, both Deadpool and Nightwing are characters I have personally wanted to see on screen for years, but as both have been condemned to development hell for the moment, I was perfectly happy for the opportunity to see them in a low-budget setting.
Unfortunately, Deadpool was swatted down by Marvel’s legal department almost as soon as it started. Even though Notarile had no intention of selling the webseries or profit from it in any way, he was forced to shut down production. This was a blow not only to Notarile and his team, but to anyone hoping to make a Marvel fan-film, as it set a precedent that basically prohibits any future Marvel fan films.
Which, let’s face it, was a HUGE mistake.
Marvel’s characters are currently divided up between three different studios. Fox owns the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, Sony has Spider-Man, and Marvel’s own Marvel Studios/Disney owns the Avengers and basically all other characters. Because of this, we will never be able to see the X-Men join forces with Spidey and the Avengers on screen (or at least not until maybe 2030. Maybe). So we won’t see such iconic stories like Civil War or Secret Wars or Avengers vs. X-Men or the formation of the Future Foundation.
Unless it’s by the fans.
With fan films, there’s no limit on the characters that could be used together. In a fan film, we could see Wolverine slash through Spidey’s webbing, or the Thing take on the Hulk, or Deadpool trade quips with Iron Man. Which is something we fans would all LOVE to see!
Which brings me back to Nightwing: Prodigal. Not only is it finally giving us a live-action Nightwing, it’s giving him to us in a tone and form that is made by and for the fans (which means no big studio interference). We’re also getting to see other characters that DC would probably never put into a big-budget film, such as Anarchy, who, despite being pretty cool, is, let’s face it, a C-villain at best.
Fan films are going to become more and more common, even in the face of Marvel’s legal actions. I for one hope to see many more in the years to come and if you intend to make one, AP2HYC will be happy to support your efforts!
What do you think of fan films? Do you enjoy them or are superhero stories best left for the big studios to tell? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!