As a 34 year old non Comic book reader I am in the exact core audience that comic book movies are aimed at. Not to say other people can’t like it but when I was a child I never had anyone to introduce me to comic books so, like many others, I spent my after school time and weekends watching Fox Kids and it’s fantastic cartoon line up. This line up introduced me to Batman: The Animated series, X-Men, Spiderman: The Animated Series and The Tick. With hindsight I consider myself incredibly lucky to watch such well written and entertaining cartoons as a child. These introduced me to such spectacular and interesting characters.
Once these cartoons were over I needed to find these characters in other mediums so I looked to movies and television. I watched the re-runs of Batman (1966) and I had already missed Superman: The Movie (1978) so I looked to the 90s movies for help.
Even by today’s standards there are some brilliant Comic Book movies that came from the late 80s/Early 90s, Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), The Rocketeer (1991) and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) to name but a few.
However in the 90s I didn’t know what a good movie was, so I just wanted to watch these characters I’d seen on Fox Kids. I watched films such as Captain America (1990), Nick Fury: Agent of Shield (1998), the Joel Schumacher Batman Movies (1995, 1997). At the time I loved them, the terrible acting; terrible special effects and whatever that Captain America movie was didn’t worry me as I didn’t know any better.
In the late 90s and early 2000s I knew better, I had watched a lot of films and completed a Film Studies course. I realised that these movies were not good movies but I had a lovely nostalgic feel because I had once loved them.
In the late 90s/Early 2000’s Comic Book movies had moved on in quality by leaps and bounds starting with either Blade (1998) or X-Men (2000) depending on whom you listen to. These movies started to take these characters seriously and started to make a lot of money.
So when 2008 rolled around I had been educated enough to be ready for what started a Comic movie revolution.. Iron Man.
Since Iron Man (2008), Marvel has set the bar for comic book movies. They have superior writing, clever interconnectivity and have tried to each be very different even though they are set in the same universe (sometimes they have succeeded sometimes they haven’t).
If you only started to watch comic book movies from Iron Man (2008) you have been spoiled. You may therefore believe that the quality of these Marvel Movies is the standard of comic book movies. Whilst I wish that were true; you have missed out on the terrible history that was previously mentioned.
At this stage of Comic Book cinema, DC has fallen quite far behind. So in 2013 (Marvel had released 7 movies up to this point) they launched their own interconnecting universe with Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. These were arguably not up to the standard of the Marvel Movies, but compared to their early efforts such as Batman and Robin (1997) these are almost masterpieces.
So to Suicide Squad (2016), which personally I kind of like. It’s by no means a great movie; there are problems I have with it, the villain, the 3rd act and pacing issues for example.
However people raised on recent Marvel efforts will not like this movie. It would be argued that it’s not clever enough or smart enough to be put alongside the like of Avengers (2012) or Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). But compared to the 80s and 90s movies that I have mentioned it is a much more interesting and cleverly made movie in DC’s connecting universe.
When watching these movies people need to appreciate how good we have it in terms of comic book movies. In 2016 we had 2 movies that featured Batman. That would have been inconceivable in the 80s and 90s. I understand that these movies could be better and should be better but just remember how bad they really could be. (See Judge Dredd (1995), Fantastic 4 (1994), The Punisher (1989) to name but a few.
What is your take on the Marvel/DC cinematic universe?
Let me know in the comments below.