Friday, July 18, 2008
The triumphant return of the comic book nerd!!
If the Simpsons character to the right (aptly named the "Comic Book Guy") makes you laugh then you must have met a comic book nerd somewhere along your travels. While I like to think that I am a bit more socially adept; I am at times a full blown comic book nerd. At one point in my life I had over 25 boxes of comic books! I had to grow up eventually after having kids, so I sold them all (at a loss). However, I still get uppity when it comes to the recent rush of comic book characters showing up in movies. All of which, I would read in my bedroom in Richboro or my dorm room in College Park Maryland.
The really good stuff like A History of Violence, Road to Perdition and Persepolis is not even known by most people to be comic book errr...ahem!!...excuse me... graphic novel material. Thus I won't include that material in this discussion. I am referring to, of course, super heroes.
Let's face it, it's hard to explain to a girl you have sexual interest in that Spiderman, the X-men, and Batman have some really good and thought-provoking stories. I'll readily admit that there's more chaff than wheat in the industry as a whole, but writers like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Frank Miller could make some damn good superhero comic books that would appeal to a mature audience. The only thing you could do was give someone a copy of Batman: Year One or The Watchmen and hope that would actually read it because if they did, you'd have a convert. But, alas, even my own wife can't get through The Watchmen. She has a hard deciphering which panel to read next and I don't think she has the nerd gene that allows her to read comic books.
Which brings us to the current rush of movies.
In a way, it started with the Tim Burton Batman movie. Today that movie looks silly compared to Batman Begins despite it's initial lauded reaction by the general masses. Movies like Spiderman, Iron Man and X-men are not only getting people to see how good a superhero story can be but they are also becoming very profitable for Hollywood. There are some clunkers like Daredevil and Fantastic Four and also some near misses like Superman Returns but if you let Hollywood get a hold of any printed material they will most likely screw it up. The ratio of good movies vs. bad superhero movies is actually quite good compared to most of your popular fiction novels that have been given the movie treatment. I suppose the fact that comic books are essentially story boards is what lends itself to better translation. It just becomes a matter of good writing and the fact that special effect technology is there to create "plausibility".
Tonight, I am seeing a movie in the theater without the kids for the 1st time in over a year. I have been psyched to see Dark Knight ever since the ending scene of Batman Begins. Based on the reviews I have been seeing, Dark Knight appears to be that movie that will justify my comic book nerdom. It is the movie that will let the general masses see that even a superhero story can have substance and meat and thoughtful art. It is the movie that will make my 30 years of reading in shame all worthwhile. I know my expectations are high but I know they will met. I'll try and put in my own personal review sometime this weekend.
Personally, I think The Watchmen is the greatest superhero story told in graphic novels and I'm very excited to see the movie next year. But I fear that a 2.5 hour movie will not do it justice. A good Batman and Joker story doesn't need to be longer than 2.5 hours whereas The Watchmen is a complete story and not a serial comic. Nonetheless, good stories are making their way to the big screen. Me and my fellow comic book nerds are in a golden age.
Best comic movie era ever!