I loved comic books as a kid… I just wasn’t allowed to read them. For whatever reason, my dad prohibited me from the common joy of reading Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. Since comic books were off limits, it made the desire to read them all that more powerful. I wanted to know everything there was about every superhero and memorise their superpowers and biographies like the other kids might want to memorise baseball stats.
Then I found out about parallel universes or the multiverse. Marvel had one, so did DC, and this completely overwhelmed me. It was no longer feasible to memorise all the heroes simply because there were multiple versions of them. Ultimate Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, and Spectacular Spider-Man? I gave up on figuring out how all the universes worked – I didn’t even know which universe was ours.
Then I started reading some of my friend’s graphic novels and he told me about a storyline called Infinite Crisis where multiple versions of Superman collide. I didn’t think much of it then because my friend told me Infinite Crisis was a way for DC to kill off useless heroes, thereby de-cluttering the multiverse. One could say that the opposite has happened for comic book film adaptations.
The past 10 years has seen a resurgence of the comic book movie; it’s been so successful that studios have clamoured to adapt every comic with a fan base and re-franchise once directors have had their turn with a particular superhero. There are currently three superheroes who have either been restarted or are in the process of restarting within a few years of their predecessors: Spider-Man was recently remade into The Amazing Spiderman starring Andrew Garfield. But why? Because Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy grossed over $2.5 billion worldwide, ending with Spider-Man 3 in 2007. It seems like Sony made the right choice by re-franchising – in 2012, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man grossed $750 million worldwide, spawning a sequel (which is due in 2014).
The most recent example of a superhero rebirth was Superman. Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns resonated with critics in 2006, but wasn’t a smashing box office hit and that may have been reason enough to shelve any potential sequels. Then Man of Steel was released in the summer of 2003, and though box office success was huge, critics did not react well to the movie. Which doesn’t matter much, of course: box office success means one thing, and that’s a sequel.
Due to the success of The Avengers (third highest-grossing movie ever made) and how eager fanboys were to see their favorite heroes cross over to make cameos in other Marvel films, DC was only too happy to answer back with a league of their own. Man of Steel’s sequel was announced to be a crossover between Superman and Batman (or rather, Batman vs. Superman). This led to the question of who would be playing Batman. Christian Bale finished donning the cowl in 2012, after all. Who would be the right man for the job? Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Would Bale come back?
Nope: the biggest news of the past month has been the announcement that Ben Affleck will be playing the new Batman in Zack Snyder’s Superman universe. Part of the fans’ polarizing reactions were due to the fact that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy had wrapped up all too soon and comparisons between Bale and Affleck were immediately made, but this leads us to the bigger picture. The future of comic book films.
Tobey Maguire played the loveable web-head from 2002 to 2007 before Garfield sported the mask in 2012. Unfortunately, no one likes Tobey Maguire and it isn’t really a fan’s dream to see Maguire’s Spider-Man stand alongside Garfield’s in a multiverse of sorts. But what if an actor portrayed a beloved superhero to critical and fanboy acclaim? What if Christian Bale’s Batman were to meet Ben Affleck’s Batman in a future Crisis film… well, wouldn’t that be something? It sounds ludicrous, I know, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from The Avengers, it’s that the only thing better than a superhero movie is a superheroes movie.
Think about it: where is Marvel and DC going to go when their Avengers and their DC heroes grow old and get franchised out? Are they going to keep rebooting and pretend like the others never existed? It’s much better to leave them separate and in their own universes, people say. Respect the history and move forward, but what if Marvel and DC could use their past heroes to boost their new ones? Bale fighting alongside Affleck with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robin? Overkill, sorry. But if Cavill were to fight alongside a future Superboy and set a foundation for another franchise, that would be something else.
The Infinite Crisis right now is that studios will keep rebooting superheroes because they know there will always be money in it, and it’s possible that within a decade or two there’ll be more than three versions of the same superhero. This will create all sorts of problems in the future and further de-cluttering will be required. But if the studios can get Christian Bale to fight alongside Ben Affleck and a young Terry McGinnis in a multiverse Batman movie, there’s a way to make this work.
So is this a realistic prediction of comic book films? I believe anything is possible. I never thought an Avengers film, let alone a good Avengers film, would ever be made. I didn’t think Heath Ledger could be Joker, either, and I certainly didn’t think Zack Snyder could make a decent Superman film (half-right about that). I never imagined the original cast of X-Men reuniting with Bryan Singer and joining the cast of X-Men: First Class to create another crossover film of sorts. If anything, X-Men: Days of Future Past is the prototype of a multiverse comic book film where two versions of the same character come face to face. But how will fans and critics receive it?
We’ll have to wait until next summer to find out, but at least we can take comfort that in some parallel universe, other versions of ourselves are wondering the same thing.
What do you think? Is these a feasible prospect? Let us know in the comment section below.
This article was first posted on September 25, 2013