Dark Comic Movies

By | Monday, July 03, 2006 Leave a Comment
So I caught part of a summer movie review piece on NPR this afternoon. One of the panelists posed the question: why do comic book movies all seem to feel the need to be dark and ponderous? Another panelist suggested that it was because movie-makers felt the need to take themselves overly seriously to compensate for what they thought were otherwise frivolous concepts. They dropped the subject then and moved on to some pirate movie that's coming out soon.

I might counter, though, that it has more to do with Tim Burton. Comic book movies -- prior to Burton's Batman -- were taken largely as camp. Adam West's Batman is certainly the most notable in this regard, but there's a lot in every other example. But Burton showed Hollywood that you could take the same concepts and characters and approach it differently in a manner that's more appropriate for another medium. After Hollywood saw that superheroes could be done differently (and successfully) they copied that.

It was clearly evident in the Flash and Nightman TV shows, but there's still evidence of it in everything from Justice League Unlimited to Lois and Clark to Blade to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

As I thought about it, it's curiously also found in the comics themselves in a smaller, shorter scale. It was also started with Batman (in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns) and was copied throughout just about every superhero comic. Fortunately for comic fans, that fad only lasted throughout the 1990s and hasn't continued like it has in the comic-based movies.
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