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Avenging the superhero movie genre

By Andrew Sparling Staff writer
On April 17, 2012

  • Recent superhero movies, such as The Avengers (above), are different than past versions in that they attempt to create an interconnected world between the movie and the comic book, which could explain the recent box office success of comic-based films.

The Avengers movie is only a few weeks away. A movie four years in the making, it attempts to put several heroes into leading roles. This might not have happened if it wasn't for a general shift in how comic book films were presented.

The early 2000s were a very dark time for our nation. We were on the brink of war and despite being united after the tragedy of Sept. 11, there seemed to be a lack of faith in the government. Spider-Man was, in my opinion, the comic book movie that showed the amazing potential of the superhero genre. Spider-Man is the ideal hero for a troubled country. Despite his amazing abilities, he still had to work hard to earn his meals and had to come to terms with the loss of loved ones.

He also showed the great things that could be achieved when a person embraces his or her skills and chooses to use them to help humanity. This was a message everyone could get behind, but then obstacles and a gritty realism stepped in and made almost every comic book film darker for several years. Spider-Man 3 tried to make Spider-Man edgy and full of angst - the polar opposite to the hero from the first two movies - who simply wanted to use his powers to protect New York and honor his uncle.

As a result, the film felt empty of anything except anger. There needs to be a balance or else the audience will see it as either too depressing or too cheap.

This balance was achieved when the filmmakers realized that in order to make a good comic book movie, you can't put the superheroes in our world; they had to put the audience in their world.

This "world," the Marvel movie universe, is similar to our world but with a few unique twists. In that world, a super soldier named Captain America (Chris Evans) battled the Nazis in World War II. It's the same world where billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) made a robotic suit to combat the rising threat of weapons that cause more harm than protection. This would also be the universe where thousands of light-years from Earth there is an actual Asgard where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) arrives with his mighty hammer to protect humanity, but may have forgotten his shirt.

What makes these films different from the previous movies based on Marvel Comic characters is the fact they are interconnected. Nick Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) organization S.H.I.E.L.D. interacted with each of the heroes. The characters behave like real people, in that the supernatural things in their world are common knowledge, like Stark's machines and the super-soldier serum.

The dialogue isn't primarily composed of clever remarks in between action scenes. The five movies are a part of the same continuity and are trying to tell one tale, which is  composed of several story lines. Now these story lines are about to converge completely for the first time in The Avengers.

The creators of comic book movies are starting to learn a better standard when making films. They're now dedicated to making good movies that happen to be based on comic books. No matter what type of literary work is used, what makes people love a book or a comic comes down to one factor: The story.

Filmmakers who choose to work toward making a good story  will, above all things, always have something worth watching and remembering for years to come.      


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