From casting, VFX, cinematography and performances from Hollywood’s elite, the last eight or so years has treated us to a entertainment phenomenon that will stand as the definitive genre of the 21st century. Here are five reason why superhero movies are important to us.
1.It shows us that characters can be portrayed faithfully.
We live in a world of media savvy, armchair critics who love nothing more than to whine about Tom Bombadil not being in the Lord of the Rings movies or Hermione not having the same buck teeth she has in the books. And as a lover of literature I understand the preciousness of how literary characters are shown in visual media. What we need to take away from the current releases in our theatres is that it can be done right. Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of the fourth wall breaking anti-hero has been heralded as a film that hits the nail right on the head in terms of how faithful a character is to its comic book counterpart. And if you haven’t been living under an Instagram free rock for the last few weeks, you may have seen how the fandom world is incredibly impressed with Tom Holland’s new/old look Spiderman in the upcoming Marvel Movie Captain America: Civil War. These are two examples of how after all these years the filmmakers at the helm of these brands are now starting to make progress and we may now finally see the best version of our favourite heroes on the big screen. It’s a great time to be alive.
2. It highlights the under-appreciated beauty of comic books.
It is safe to say that superheroes aren’t just character in picture books, but also brands that make billions upon billions by simply having their face of a kid’s back pack or their theme song playing out of an electric toothbrush. Kids all over the world have their favourite superhero splattered across their pyjamas and see them as genuine role models. All this hype and money making seems to steer people away from the true origins of these wonderful characters: They are comic book characters.
The beauty of these movies that we are seeing year after year is that they are almost like cinematic tributes to the stories and the characters in the comic books. It’s fine that children seem to like reading the comics book themselves anymore, we have man children like myself to do that. Nevertheless The future generations are getting to see versions of the very stories that made superheroes what they are today. Which leads me to the next reason.
3. Superheroes are role models.
I’m not a parent, but if I was I would want my children to look up to the right people. As a child myself I often took more notice of the characters that filled my television screen than my actual parents (Not to my mother’s discredit, she was a wonderful mother.) I looked upon the triumphs of Goku, The justice League and The Power Rangers as examples on how to live. These days it’s harder to keep your children on the right path due to their over exposure to the uncensored world of social media. Is it not a comfort knowing that the biggest and most wide spread films in our cinemas are stories about heroes who overcome impossible odds to uphold justice and good? It is cheesy, but I feel better knowing that there are still positive messages in mainstream media.
4. They define an era in cinema.
You can consider this point in two separate ways: The first is how they define cinema for those who consume it and Secondly, for those who create it.
For those who consume (I.e. Cinema-goers and film fans) The first fifteen years of the 21st century have been awash with adaptations of novels, comic books and even video games. Some have fallen short and others have started cultural phenomena that has endured to this very day. If you were to sit down and think about the most successful films that we have seen in our multiplexes in the last 10-15 years. I suspect you will probably think of a few superhero movies. A quick search on IMDB certainly agrees.
The second way of thinking about this reason is in regards to those who dedicate their lives to making these movies. It is easy to forget that Robert Downey Jr. made his debut as Iron Man in 2008 and now he is reprising the role for the fifth time (sixth if you count his brief post credit sequence in The Incredible Hulk in 2008) in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. Before this role, Downey Jr. had slipped into a state of obscurity which did not do justice to his charisma and talent. When he got to portray the egotistical billionaire playboy Tony Stark, Downey Jr’s career was given a fresh lease of life. It could also be argued that the chances to play a famous superhero helped other actors such as Chris Evans who was given a second chance to make is name as a super hero after his last attempt in The fantastic Four (2005) and The Fantastic four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. (2007). It seems to be good business for actors to attach themselves to a character they will keep them in work for years to come.
5. Simply put? They make people happy
It’s no accident that every time a superhero movies comes out in the cinemas there’s often talk of it breaking box office records. I even saw one about Batman Vs Superman this very morning. Sales are one thing but the very fact that these movies are constant sellers is that they are simply doing their job. They are making people happy. Their entertaining us in our millions and everyone from eight to eighty can sit down and enjoy the simple yet powerful stories of heroes who fight for what is good and just in the world and do it with plenty of back flips and plenty of trick with a magic hammer. And if they are having a positive effect on us all. How can we not say they are important?