I don’t know if this is unusual or extremely common — to abandon a genre because you believe that you’ve read something so good (Sandman) that everything else you read in that genre just seems inferior or childish in comparison. In retrospect, I realize that the comics I was reading while in college — at least the Marvel ones — were some of the best of that time, that their original owner had deemed fit to save, and if you actually read the month-to-month issues, so much of it really was drek.
In any case, every once in a while, I’d still read a graphic novel or two — a lot of the ones that were recommended to me, though, really weren’t all that appealing. Sometimes they had an interesting start, but would lose my interest as they progressed (“Y: The Last Man”). Sometimes they seemed to want to rely too much on shock value, and not enough on writing and characters (“Preacher”, “Batman: The Killing Joke”) making me wonder how anyone could actually get enjoyment out of them.
Comic books though, started having a resurgence on movie screens. There was, of course, Tim Burton’s “Batman”, featuring Michael Keaton, a far cry from what most people remembered from the 1966 TV series. Jack Nicholson made for a memorable, and far darker Joker than Cesar Romero. Batman was dark and brooding. But he also was more human than the perfectly behaved Adam West. The film turned into a rather imperfect franchise that ended with the laughably bad “Batman and Robin”. It was enough to show that a more realistic and darker comic book movie could work — unfortunately the franchise went down in such big flames that it probably put a damper on future efforts, at least for a good while.
Later, Sam Raimi had his take on Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire was, imho, a great Spider-Man — certainly he was a little old for the part. But he does have a young enough face that it still is quite believable. And it was the movie that showed that special effects technology had progressed to the point that you could believe you were seeing a man swinging from webs attached to skyscrapers. It also had a great sequel, featuring Alfred Molina as ‘Doc Ock’, the iconic Doctor Octopus from the comics. These were actually fun movies that didn’t take much effort to enjoy. Once again, I was a Spiderman fan — not a comic book fan, per se. But those first two movies were just fun. I guess there may have been a kind of nostalgia aspect to it. But comic books was suddenly serious business.
Now, this is about as far as I got yesterday, writing this, before I realized I didn’t have time to finish. And if you were looking forward to reading part 2, I apologize for that. But partly because I want to write my review of “Captain America: Civil War”, and partly because I REALLY do not want to write my thoughts now on a whole lot of other comic book movies, I am going to leave this almost in its current state, with only a few final thoughts:
I’ve grown to love comic book movies. I loved the entire Dark Knight series. Certainly, the third one was not as good as either of the first two, but I still enjoyed them. I loved Watchmen — it wasn’t perfect, but for an adaptation of a great graphic novel that most people thought to be unfilmable, it was terrific. But what really got me going was the MCU — “Iron Man”, both Captain America films, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and especially “Avengers” were stand-outs, to me. These were comic book films for both comic book fans AND non-fans. They became a kind of serialized story, like comics were, and like how a lot of TV has become. And now we have a Netflix division of the MCU, and IT’S going strong, without a single misstep among the first three seasons (Daredevil 1 & 2, and Jessica Jones). DC now wants what Marvel has, and they did take a bit of a misstep with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. But people still loved the movie, and I didn’t dislike it as much as some people seem to think I did. And I still am looking forward to their next few entries in their shared universe, especially “Suicide Squad”, and the Ben Affleck solo Batman film (after all, Batman was the best part of Batman v Superman).
And someone last night, when I was at the CA premier, pointed out to me that only 3 weeks from now, the next X-Men film is coming out. 2016 has an unbelievable number of comic book films coming out, some of which may be quite good. It’s gotten so that I’ve actually started reading comics again — well not the comic books themselves, but some trade paperback collections of them. I discovered Mike Carey’s “Lucifer”, a fantastic comic book which is a direct spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”. TV’s “The Walking Dead” inspired me to start reading the TP collections of (the?) TWD comic. I’ve been also enjoying some of DCs New 52 comics, particularly the Batman ones. I haven’t actually been reviewing them, and I probably won’t. But we’ll see. Anyway, Comic Books are back in my life now, and I even enjoy several of the TV shows (“Flash” is good, light-hearted fun, for example). And that’s all I’m going to say for now about it.
My final thoughts turned into a couple of paragraphs. That happens to me a lot — I go off on tangents. I’ll probably write my non-spoiler “Captain America: Civil War” review a bit later today. In short, I loved the movie. I’ll go into more detail later.