Superheroes. All of a sudden, they’re the next “big thing”. Marvel has come out with a whole slew of films featuring men with a strong conviction for justice and an endless repertoire for witty remarks. Recently, DC has tried to expand its current movie empire from everyone’s favorite brooding caped crusader, to a new tougher version of Superman, called Man of Steel. Hey, at least this one finally learned to wear his underwear beneath his clothes. Baby steps.
But what really draws people to these films? Is it the euphoria from watching an intense battle scene where you know your favorite masked hotty will make it out without a scratch? Is it the always physically fit men (and the occasional woman) in figure flattering outfits? Or is it the story about the archetypal hero’s journey where one man sets out to find glory and ends up finding himself in the end? We may never know. What we do know is that what these movies gain in special effects, they lose in accuracy of story line. It’s always been tough to make movies as good as the book, unless you want to make multiple three hour long films about men tramping through the woods on adventures yet to be experienced and triumphs yet to be achieved (cough cough The Hobbit), and yet, it’s even harder to do with comics because they can have multiple spin off series about the same character. The individuals can change in different universes, have different identities, hell, many a hero has been known to die and then miraculously come back to life because, and here’s the big shocker, their death didn’t go over well with the fans. But how much does this truly matter to comic book fanatics? Well, it depends on a few things: the magnitude of the inaccuracy and the level of dedication of the fan.
Exhibit A: In the Toby McGuire Spider-Man movie series (2002-2007), there were many… errr artistic liberties taken. The biggest being that Peter Parker developed the power to shoot webbing directly from his wrists, a concept that hadn’t previously existed in the comic book world. The writers of the Amazing Spider-man comic series tried this idea out in their books after the movies were released, and it fell completely flat. To have the webbing be a substance created in and shot directly out of Spider-man’s body did not paint a pretty picture for fans. This is why many were grateful for Andrew Garfield’s newer rendition of Spidey in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), complete with web shooters and a wittier personality.
Exhibit B: The Avengers. Their philosophy has always been to fight “the foes no single superhero can withstand”, and because of this, there have been multiple different team ups throughout the years. First off, the heroes chosen to be included in the films were not the same original Avengers. Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk (for a small while), and later Captain America, were all a part of the original group, but Hawk Eye and the Black Widow didn’t come into the picture until later. The original Avengers included Ant Man/Giant Man/Goliath etc. (he had a bit of an identity crisis due to an inferiority complex, hence the inconsistent name) and the Wasp, another guy/girl couple. When talking with comic book fans at Jim Hanley’s Universe, a comic store off of Madison Ave in New York City, the general consensus was, that while the heroes chosen to be in the Avenger’s movie were not all part of the original team, their history of working together in a version of the Avengers gave the team-up in the movie validity.
With each movie being a big box office hit, it’s logical for Hollywood to continue diving into its superhero era. While it is realistically impossible to get each detail of all of the heroes correct, it is the hope of comic book fans everywhere that the core identity of each masked protagonist will remain intact. Superheroes have been a symbol of strength and safety for decades. With a bigger transition of heroes into film, it will be interesting to watch to see if the heroes can continue to live up to the Hollywood movie standards, and at the same time remain true to the symbols that they are portraying. So remember all you big shot producers out there, “with great power comes great responsibility”, so tread lightly because these heroes in funny suits mean a lot to a great deal of people. Spidey on.