Respect The History Of CBM's

Respect The History Of CBM's

It's my intention that this article will give its readers a new found appreciation and respect for the entire genre. The good, the bad and the ugly are all essential parts of the history of CBM's and in some way influence the grand scheme of what's to come.

Opinions expressed toward comic book movies, optimistic or pessimistic are often interesting, thought provoking and for the most part, fair. However, among any large and growing community there's bound to be disagreements which escalate to arguments, then name-calling and even trolling. It can be easy to become aggressive and uncaring about someones feelings or right to his/her opinions in a shared web-site setting, than when you're face to face. To the level headed, users who prefer the diplomatic approach I applaud your patience. To those on this site who choose to indulge in mud-slinging, though I respect your freedom of speech, I urge you to remember and consider the over-all history of the comic book movie genre and the shaky ground it started on before being so harsh and judgmental on CBM's. Especially those you deem unworthy additions to your personal top ten best lists.

DISCLAIMER: This is not an entire history of CBM's, just a brief summery to illustrate a well meaning point of view. So I'd appreciate it if the comments section isn't filled with; "You forgot to mention Superman Lives from the 90's, wtf!"

It's hard to believe the comic book genre of films took as long as it did to achieve the high standard of quality which we've all come to expect whenever a new film based on a beloved Marvel or DC comics character hits the big screen. Especially since the first in it's genre, Superman The Movie was so well received critically and by audiences upon it's theatrical 1978 release. Though The Man of Steel's sequels varied in financial success, other Superhero films struggled to find an audience, often flopping at the box office. Flash Gordon (1980), Supergirl (1984), and Howard The Duck (1986), to name a few, failed to reinvigorate the waning genre. Though Swamp Thing (1981) was a modest success and produced a sequel Return of Swamp Thing (1989), they still have the same issues which most likely lead to the down fall of the other CBM's that weren't Superman, they came off too campy and corny.

Even the Superman films began to sink in this direction by the franchises third installment, which favored comedy relief over dramatic story telling. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), was a well intended effort to return Superman to his former glory cinematically, but as the saying goes, "The road to hell is paved in good intentions." Superman IV's budget cuts, script re-writes and horrible effects are infamous among fans of the genre. Many believed at the time, just as Superman opened the door for the future of comic book movies, he would also be responsible for closing that door.

While DC comics Superman was prominently responsible for jump-starting the comic book genre of films with a mostly successful franchise, film endeavors to bring Marvel comics heroes to the big screen proved unsuccessful throughout the 80's and 90's. Cannon ambitiously promoted Spider-Man The Movie, before a single frame of film was shot, with posters in theaters and a teaser trailer back in 1985. But a film never materialized. Probably due to Cannon's constant financial issues. Director James Cameron was also attached to a Spider-Man film during the 90's. Cameron actually wrote an entire script for the popular Marvel character, but due to issues over rights to the character the film laid dormant in Hollywood hell for years. For better or worse, Cameron's vision of the famous web-slinger never made it to theaters. There's also the infamous 1994 Fantastic Four film produced by Roger Corman. A low budget farce produced only as a means to retain the film rights to the characters. Though never intended to be a theatrical release the film became available to fans in the form of bootleg Video tapes and in latter years on the internet. The few Marvel based films that actually saw the light of day were low budget limited releases (The Punisher 1989) or direct to video films (Captain America 1990).

Just when Superman IV seemed to put the last nail in the coffin of the comic book movie genre, low and behold, Batman (1989) exploded onto the silver screen. Creating a phenomenon which rivaled the success to the original Superman film. Batman rekindled an interest in comic book movies with fans and film studio's alike. A large number of comic book movies were green lite and fast tracked in an attempt to cash in on Batman's box office success. This time around there was massive quantity but minimal quality. The Shadow (1994), Tank Girl (1995), Judge Dredd (1995), and Spawn (1997), all failed to provide lucrative franchises and could not compete with the financial success and fan-base of Batman. Though The Rocketeer (1990) and The Phantom (1996) were extremely faithful to the source material and are better films than the movies mentioned above, they were also considered flops. However, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and The Crow (1994), proved bankable commodities, that audiences couldn't get enough of. Batman films continued with varying success throughout the 90's. Just as Superman IV threatened to extinguish the comic book movie flame, the forth installment in the bat-franchise threatened to do the same. One of, if not the most critically panned comic book movies of all time, Batman & Robin's (1997) toyetic approach and campy style was too reminiscent of the silly 1960's Batman television series as well as the corny early 1980's CBM's.

However, Batman started a trend of big budget attempts at comic book movies, though few were as successful, a continuing interest was sparked. Though the light of hope was dim for what seemed like an eternity, a light would shine again and inspire hope for the genre. Out of the darkness came X-Men (2000). Though Blade (1998) was a huge success, it actually swooped in under the radar as a CBM. Mainstream audiences had no idea the Day-Walker was a Marvel comics hero. It wasn't until X-Men that a CBM finally picked up the torch to carry and pass on and on to others. Spider Man followed and exploded onto movie screens creating a big-bang that just seems to be going on and on. Sure there are still bad ones from time to time (Catwoman 2004) , but a high standard of quality has been set, and with that standard we tend to forget how lucky we are as fans of this material to be getting quite a few CBM's a year. Especially the present big budget endeavors as apposed to the low budget attempts of the past. So Daredevil (2003) didn't live up to expectations, it may be a bad CBM, but at least it's progressively bad. Meaning, not as bad as Superman IV or Batman & Robin. I think it's safe to say those days are behind us. Iron Man, really got the ball rolling for Marvel and their union with Disney has payed-off so far. Marvel's cinematic universe is to date a major success and also a huge part of CBM history not to mention, cinema history. Looking back, I don't think anyone could have imagined Marvel based films eclipsing DC based films, especially since Superman & Batman have always been so dominant at the box office.

CBM's have endured the ebb & flow of the film industry and in recent years have truly evolved, achieving massive mainstream accessibility. Only through trail and error can any great level of success be acquired. There is just as much to learn from failure as there is from success. The last 13 years has truly been dominated by comic book movies! As we usher-in a new era of CBM's it's important to remember the past as we look to the future, and understand, film-makers may not make the same mistakes made before, but they'll most likely make all new mistakes. Fans are so quick to bash Batman & Robin because of it's camp-factor and silly-tone but without it's massive failure, there may not have been a darker, more realistic approach in Batman Begins (2005). The same can be said for Superman Returns (2006), comments and opinions often "tare this film a new one", fans jump all over the fact that "It's boring, Superman doesn't punch anything", and the list of complaints goes on and on. But it became the perfect example of what not to do in a Superman film. Which is why Man of Steel (2013) is much more action-packed and fasted paced.

There was a time when there was more bad than good CBM's, currently that's not the case. Failure is just as well documented throughout history as triumph and CBM's are no exception. So keep in mind, when bashing a CBM, that you feel let you down, it just may be the stepping stone to greatness.
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Filed Under "Other" 7/7/2013 Source:
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LEVITIKUZ - 7/7/2013, 9:32 AM
I believe that Blace and X-Men kept CBMs heart beating while the genre was in a coma but I believe that Spider-Man was the CBM that woke CBMs out of the coma. Blade and X-Men were good but they were not big. When Spider-Man came out that movie was huge. It was as big as Star Wars in 77 or Superman in 78 or Batman in 89. Everybody went and saw it. Hell I think it outgrossed Star Wars Episode 2 that year. IT OUTGROSSED STAR WARS!!!!

Spider-Man woke CBMs the [frick] up.
tonytony - 7/7/2013, 10:46 AM
def agree with the article. the Mistake of superman returns is one reason why man of steel is definitely action packed ,truth is as much as we love superman for his heart, we want to see him use his powers and in man of steel he definitely cuts loose, i think i must cum twice in my pants in the last 30 minutes. Also you are definitely right that they learnt from Batman and Robin with batman begins and TDK.

My question is will WB show the same confidence with green lantern? Even if they have learned will they back the character with a reboot? I hope they do. you get a thumbs up.
Shaggy - 7/7/2013, 12:20 PM
nice article
WYLEEJAY - 7/7/2013, 1:00 PM
Nice read. I think, in my opinion, the reason there's so much arguing on this site and every other like it is simple.

Do you ever notice when your with your friends, or another group of people, that when someone brings up CBMs or comics in general, the one friend that is the biggest fan in the group has to speak up. Its the way we are. We can't help it. We know things, and our comic book egos force us to let everyone know it. So what happens when you go someplace that your not the minority anymore? Everyones just like you. Egos clash. I'm guilty of it. I try not too, but I'm human. Everyone knows everything here, and I love it cause I learn quite a bit from you guys!
NBAfanaddict - 7/7/2013, 1:01 PM
Totally agree with you. Those three movies (along with Spider-Man like Levi pointed out) are in the pantheon of superhero films IMO, alongside TDK and Avengers
LEVITIKUZ - 7/7/2013, 1:16 PM
The 5 most important CBMs are without a doubt

Superman 78
Batman 89
Spider-Man 02
The Dark Knight
The Avengers

I don't think another CBM could be huge or that important.
MrCBM56 - 7/7/2013, 2:05 PM

I agree. Superman (78) started the superhero genre, batman (89) started the trend of Batman movies and made him cool again, not mention it had superb acting, especially jacks joker, spiderman (02) woke CBM's up, The Dark knight changed the genre all around making it serious, and with the avengers, I don't really count the avengers. I count the whole mcu. Minus the avengers, the mcu is one 10 hour movie leading up to the avengers haha. It showed that a buildup can work and you can make a whole universe involving these characters, it also showed that a team-up can work.

Soon...hopefully, we can add the DCU and Justice league to that list.
MrCBM56 - 7/7/2013, 2:05 PM
Also pretty good article.
RLYHYPERGUY - 7/7/2013, 2:13 PM
Agreed, LEVITIKUZ. It could be argued that Iron Man is more important than The Avengers since it set up the idea, but The Avengers is too groundbreaking. It's a four-way movie crossover that actually worked!
NovaCorpsFan - 7/7/2013, 3:51 PM
Great article, and such a true motive. We as fans of these movies are truly blessed to be alive right now.
StrangerX - 7/7/2013, 5:57 PM
Great article!!
Tainted87 - 7/7/2013, 10:03 PM
Superman is like the Dr No of James Bond movies - well, it IS. Both are still enjoyable today, and are historically relevant, not to mention how important they are to their respective genres.

Batman is a mixed bag. Sometimes I love it, sometimes it bores me to death. Truth is, it is a poorly made movie - but that doesn't make it any less groundbreaking. Still, once you get past the hype and watch the opening rooftop scene again, and again - it's hard to be impressed.

But there's always going to be those kinds of flaws. Superman went all in, full immersion - and the only injustice was Lex Luthor being a real estate shark. It didn't try to apologize to the parents for being a superhero movie, didn't try to explain why Superman wears his underwear on the other side of his pants - it just is what it is. And it will always have my respect.

X-Men, I love it, but it really annoyed me even when I watched it in the theater - how Wolverine just can't seem to grasp that there's other mutants out there. At that point, it leaves the realm of being self-aware and self deprecating, to becoming apologetic. I blame that on Singer, although he did get over it a bit with X2.

Spider-man was a gift. It went right back to Superman, delivered the cheese, gave us some really heart-warming scenes, had us cheering for the wall-crawler, and didn't pretend it was a movie to be taken seriously.
Equivocal - 7/8/2013, 11:25 PM
glad to see that Spiderman (2002) is getting some recognition, it was THE movie for the ages, EVERYBODY saw that movie, it proved that Comic Book Movies can be ALL that without being too corny or silly and even the sequel proved to be, a little bit deeper without being too serious, different characters involved with same screen time, lots of BAD ASS ACTION and IMO the Best Superhero movie to date !

MarvelDCfanboy - 7/9/2013, 2:38 AM

don't forget Iron Man (2008)...that film made The Avengers possible...

RyKnow - 7/9/2013, 3:53 AM
Good article, and even better, good intelligent responses. For me, I'd have to say the CBM's that deserve the most recognition for elevating the genre to where it is today would be;

Superman: The Movie
Batman (1989)
Batman Begins
(I'm tempted to throw Blade in there too but it didn't have as direct an impact as the ones mentioned, at least in my opinion anyway).

The reason being they have been the most influential. I really can't include modern films like The Avengers (or any MCU films) etc. due to the fact that we have yet to see what influence they have had (Justice League to me is still in the "may or may not happen" bracket). Maybe in 10 or so years Avengers could be included, but at the minute it's too "young".

I'm not going to include what I consider duds due to most people's tendency to take this as personal attacks on them, and will keep that debate for people I know in the physical world where a good debate over a pint of lager is actually fun. Here's hoping the CBM genre doesn't go the way of the horror genre.
RyKnow - 7/9/2013, 5:32 AM
@ bropous - Well that's your opinion dude but you're probably in the vast minority there. Any particular reason, just out of curiosity?
LEVITIKUZ - 7/9/2013, 5:35 AM
Chris Reeves was never Superman.

Chris Reeve was
fortycals - 7/9/2013, 6:24 AM
Great article. So while everyone puts up their list, I'll put up the honorable mentions and reason why.

Blade: This movie has to make my list for acouple of reasons. One being that, it proved that you didnt have to be an a-list character to be successful. They took a d-list character and turned him into a household name. It sparked a wave of successful and non successful movies based on characters that the general audience had no clue about. Two it was the first good cross genre attempt. It wasnt just a cbm, but a vampire horror film also. It showed that cbm's arent just superheroes in tights. Three It showed that cbm's arent just for kids.

Sin City: This movie showed that being comic accurate doesnt have to be a bad thing. While I'm not the biggest fan of comic book pureness, I can appreciate it when done that well.

A History of Violence: This one also change the game in a cross genre kinda way. It showed that there is a lot of heavy drama to be found in the comic world. No super powers here, just a well crafted story originated in graphic novel form.

Underworld: Although not technically a cbm, it was a defining moment when the comic influence can be found in an original movie. It was an original movie that wanted to be a cbm. It started a trend that is still be seen today where studios arent just adapting comics, but also taking that cbm style and applying it to other movies. CBM's have taken over hollywood to the point where comics styles and themes are used in movies as inspiration.
FOOM - 7/9/2013, 6:54 AM
I've been saying this to pig ignorant philistines on this site for ages now. And to Ceejay (where the hell is he??)as well.

Excellent piece Captain Marvel.
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 7:20 AM
The PUNISHER from the 80's was the 1st rated R CBM. CROW (1993) was the 1st HARD CORE rated R comic book movie. These should definitely be mentioned. I loved BLADE, definitely pumped life into MARVEL movies. MATRIX though, is the CBM that changed the entire industry, for those of you that don't know, MATRIX has been around since 1981
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 7:32 AM
I can never understand why people are constantly dissing the Chris Reeve films (except 4). Obviously those guys are far too young to realize that those movies were way ahead of its time, and literally paved the way for these mediocre heroes (Thor, Captain America, IronMan) to get films today.

Its thanks to Richard Donner and his crew along with Chris Reeve why there are X-Men & Avengers films today. Obviously there wasn't technology back then to make those stories seem real, but SUPERMAN 1978 was groundbreaking not just for the CBMs, but the entire film industry. I guess haters will hate...

Let me make it easy: NO Chris Reeve Superman, NO CBM community

My top 5 list of the modern CBMs are:

4) X2
RyKnow - 7/9/2013, 7:47 AM
@ fortycals - I like your post man. And considering you've listed WHY you like a particular film, I'll do the same, y'know, just to compare notes :-)
But first;
Blade - As I've stated, why I didn't include this was because in my opinion, it's impact wasn't that big considering (other than on it's sequels). Virtually nobody knew this was a CBM (as you pointed out it's not a mainstream character), so I don't feel it had a massive influence on future CBM's really. You are definitely on the money at a it being a good cross-genre film, however, The Crow had already demonstrated 4 years earlier that CBM's can be for a mature audience too.
Sin City - I can't really say anything about this film as I wasn't too keen on it. Good noire style, but I couldn't get excited about it. Maybe it's because I've never read the book?
A History of Violence - Fantastic film by David Cronenberg. I always forget it's based on a graphic novel. Which is probably why I didn't include it :-(
Underworld - Good film, just not a CBM at all. Although your points about it are interesting. Something I've probably noticed but not thought about.

Some of my listed movies, and to a lesser extent, the reasonings, may be similar to the posted article but I promise this is pure coincidence;
Superman: The Movie - The first serious attempt at making a high profile, expensive movie based on a superhero character. It was a product of it's time, granted, but I thought it provided some excellent insight into Superman's thinking and how he copes with the fact that despite everything he can do, he can't save everyone.
Batman (1989) - This took what Superman: The Movie had done and upped the ante. A more violent CBM (more in line with the original comic), with equally violent characters; Michael Keaton's Batman was a huge curve-ball and Jack Nicholson's Joker made Jack Torrance from The Shining seem like a boy-scout.
X-Men - As far as I can recall, the first ensemble Superhero film that I think paved the way for The Avengers. All the major characters had equal screen time and all served a purpose. As a side note, a lot of people think Wolverine dominated the film, and if that's true, the influence still carried over to The Avengers as Tony Stark dominated that film.
Spider-Man - As has already been said, this was the film that really put CBM's out there as a credible genre. I don't think I can say much more than that. It deserves all the credit it gets.
Batman Begins - To start off, I included this rather than The Dark Knight as without this film, there wouldn't be a Dark Knight film. Also, it has proved massively influential in terms of the level of realism it portrayed, detailed character analysis, and obviously, it made popular the reboot, which no-one can say isn't felt in Hollywood today.

Good to compare notes mate, hope we get to do it again in the future :-)

Logan5 - 7/9/2013, 8:52 AM
We've actually entered an age were there's multiple types of comicbook movies in release?! Huge summer spectacles based on characters from the big 2, with more & more adult themed books and graphic novels being sent into development yearly. Vertigo books being adapted as well. Only saw 1 of the 3 that I sometimes leave off the list: the Losers, Jonah Hex and Constantine(Hellblazer). The list is no more. It's been and is now more than ever, a genre.

Catwoman counts.., but does it? Saw that thing on cable recently.
Logan5 - 7/9/2013, 8:54 AM
-Those FF movies.., sheesh, big time stinky!

-As a kid my local theater actually had a Captain America poster inside "Coming in Spring" or "Spring '90," or something like that.
fortycals - 7/9/2013, 11:06 AM
Damn forgot crow. One of my all time favs. I tried to stay away the movies everyone else would name. Good call. While I do agree the general audience didn't know about blade being a cbm, I do think it was no secrete behind the scenes that it was. It made enough noise amongst comic fans and the general audience, to bring cbms back from the dead after the last batflicks.
RyKnow - 7/11/2013, 6:48 AM
@ fortycals - Yeah, I thought Batman & Robin had sealed the fate of CBM's, as many other fans of CBM's thought I reckon. Thankfully, over the next few years though, Blade, X-Men & Spider-Man let us forget about that little mishap. And you're right about behind the scenes of Blade; Wesley Snipes is a huge fan of the Blade character and apparently actively pursued the role. I actually thought Blade had one of the best soundtracks to come out of the 90's (though it was bettered by The Crow soundtrack).
RobGrizzly - 7/12/2013, 11:26 AM
I'll never understand the argument "without Batman and Robin there would be no Batman Begins." As if this is the yin and yang of mother nature. No. I will never be thankful for shit. And there's no telling- we likley would have gotten Batman Begins anyway, because like James Bond (and recently Spider-Man), these things pass on from one visionary to the next.

Great article.

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