Friday, June 02, 2006


The Evolution of Superheroes on Screen

This month, the (super expensive) reinvention of Superman is about to make its way onto the screen in Superman Returns. And I must admit, I am very curious. It seems as if superheroes are finally being realized on screen by directors and screenwriters who grew up as comic book fans. While characters like Superman and Batman have a long big screen history, other superheroes (such as Spider-man and Wonder Woman) are best remembered from 1970s live action TV adaptations. It's been interesting to watch the evolution of these characters from TV to big screen. (With the notable exception of The Hulk, which worked much better on the small screen, most of these characters have finally been given the respect they deserve as iconic figures of modern American mythology. After years of red tape, the Spider-man franchise has firmly secured its place on screen (thanks to the guidance of Spider-man fan, and director, Sam Raimi). It may have taken nearly two decades of big screen tries --starting with Tim Burton's 1989 Batman -- but in the hands of director Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros. Finally got Batman right in 2005's Batman Begins. And now there's growing chatter about who will play Wonder Woman in the upcoming big screen adaptation being written by Joss Wheaton (creator of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer). Again, I'm intrigued, since Wonder Woman is most recognizable of the female heroes. Admittedly, not all screen adaptations do these characters justice. (Remember the abysmal Supergirl?) But more and more, as the comics themselves have become geared to adults (witness the comic book and boxoffice success of The X-Men), greater care (and money) is being given to realizing these characters on screen. As I have said before, these characters carry on because of our ability to reinvent them. That hasn't always worked well, but for some reason, I think we are seeing the rebirth of the Golden Age of the Superhero in movies.

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