The past few years have been kind to the comic book movie genre (and it is almost certainly possible to call it a genre now) with massive hits for both DC and Marvel, and film-makers increasingly turning to the panels of the world’s favourite comic books for inspiration for their next projects. But in among the mega hits, there have been some stinkers, and success is far from guaranteed when you decide to adapt a comic book property for the big screen. Just ask Howard The Duck.
Some might say that the genre has now peaked, and that the phenomenal critical and commercial successes of The Avengers and Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy are unlikely to be achieved again, even with Marvel going big with their Phase 2 campaign of sequels that will ultimately culminate in the second Avengers movie. But there is still a lot to be excited about with the next wave of comic book movies, and hopefully the studios can deliver.
Sadly though, there are some upcoming comic book properties that simply look doomed to fail from the outset – not necessarily in commercial terms, but definitely in terms of meeting fan expectations or thrilling the critics in the same way that the recently successful films have managed. So in this article, I’ll be looking ahead to ten upcoming comic book adaptations that I think have an almighty struggle for that sort of success…
1. The New Batman (????)
Unfortunately for whichever director takes on the considerable burden of either continuing or rebooting Nolan’s strand of the Batman universe (my heart says the former, my head the latter), the spectre of the departed director will loom large over anything and everything they create. Because regardless of how many things The Dark Knight Rises got wrong (and there weren’t just a few), Nolan’s treatment of the property was a phenomenal success, and it will take an awful lot for fans to forget and move on to lavishing the new projects with as much love.
The new Batman film will be immediately shackled by those massive and unreasonable expectations, and that can only spell disaster for its director, because the natural antidote to inflated expectation is making everything bigger and bolder than before. Nolan was lucky, because he was picking up a broken franchise, dusting it off and rebooting it with a damn sight more subtlety and finesse than the over-bloated mess that was Batman & Robin. In truth, he could have made something of the quality of Batman Forever, and he would still have been deemed a success, because it’s all a matter of relativity, which is exactly why the next Batman director is going to struggle to meet the expectations that will come with the gig.
Batman needs a huge event to push Nolan out of fans’ minds, and unfortunately the likelihood of a reboot simply doesn’t fill me with confidence that it will be possible.
This article was first posted on November 16, 2012