Loss of Imagination?

A few classes back, we talked about the difference between characters over time. I will admit it will be hard to find anyone in this class that will argue against superhero movies; they’re awesome. While many in this class are avid readers of comic books, there is a group of us, including myself, who have never read one. One of the big reasons I joined this class has been the number of superhero movies created over the past few years. While I will still likely go for a movie over a comic book once this class ends, it has shown me how the movie industry has worked for and against the comic book industry. While it has created a large mainstream buzz with people after the 1990s, it has morphed an expectation on younger audiences for what their favourite heroes should look like.36493_10152108593758797_1340569137_n

Growing up, my favourite superhero was Batman, what’s not to like? My fear for the comic book industry is the more mainstream specific characters become, the more difficult it will be for artists to put their own twists on new renditions. One of the hardest things for artists in any context is originality, so I can imagine how tough it can be for an artist assigned to draw someone like Batman to make it his or her own when the vigilante has been around since 1939. I imagine many of the younger audiences of such films as the Dark Knight likely now have a very distinct idea of what Batman should be. Even looking at the different Batman movies over the years, many of them take a very similar look.

While I am making the argument that this is a negative thing, it could very well be positive. No one will dismiss the trend of superhero movies as a bad thing; any press is good press when you’re a comic. It’s a bit of a novelty when each generation has their own vision of what their favourite hero is and looks like. I hope though in 20 years we don’t lose the creativity in super hero comics in order to attract the more mainstream reader. Just because a specific Batman comic doesn’t look like Christian Bale, I hope it isn’t discounted.  Artists should be able to add their own bit of originality to their work and still have it appreciated. Being a sports fan, I know what it’s like to watch something even if it doesn’t resemble what it was 20-or so years ago and still appreciate it (Calgary Flames anyone?)

In saying all this, what I hope to say is that when you pick up something that doesn’t resemble what your use to, don’t turn away from it. Movies tend to ruin the imagination and vision of what some creations should be. Comics are unique because of their change over time. There is nothing wrong with picking up something a little different every now and then.

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3 Responses to Loss of Imagination?

  1. dcfoy says:

    I think you make some interesting points in your discussion, the impact of manipulations and transformations that well-known comic book characters go through is an important topic for this class. Your example of batman is especially relevant given the series of popular blockbusters which have been released over the years.

    While for some purist individuals the alteration of a character’s original or ideal form is a slanderous act albeit unavoidable, I however share a similar viewpoint to yours in the sense that having various interpretations of our beloved caped crusader can be a good thing. If Batman were drawn the same way year after year since his debut we would all be a little bored by now. In my opinion, Batman is for everyone to interpret in their own personal way.

    Regarding cinema, let’s be honest, some movies have the potential to change or even ruin a person’s glorified image of a certain character, but how much of this can be attributed to the actual character design? I would argue using the example of recent Spider Man movies that while the appearance of Spider Man remains pretty aesthetically appealing despite his transformation over the years, it’s the bad acting/writing that ruins it for me.

    Found an interesting link on cinema and comics if you’re interested!

  2. hannahcritchley says:

    I find your blog to be most compelling. But comics and films have had to evolve through different generations to make it more appealing for its audience. When Batman originally began in 1939, Bob Kane and Bill Finger (creators) were going to dress him in an outfit similar to Superman (because of its success). Thankfully they gave him a make over. The point is, they ensured that their inspiration was drawn upon contemporary 1930s pop culture, with Batmans personality, weapons and methods. Even during Batmans early years, especially after World War II, “removed from the bleak and menacing world of the strips of the early 40s, Batman was instead portrayed as a respectable citizen and paternal figure that inhabited a bright and colourful environment” (Wright). No longer destructive and fearful due to the terrors of war, the creators instilled their own presence into the comics, which consequently gave their audiences peace of mind.

    Similarly, the Batman films have had to evolve for its audience, while iterating many of the basic genres from the comics. The “Adam West” era, started in 1960s, began a more comedic sense to the character of Batman. The creators wanted to instil a campy figure as the Dark Knight, relating the tv show to the original comics after World War II. With lots of bright colours and excessive cartoon captions: Kapow, Boom, Zap; the show became highly successful by appealing to its audience of the time. Tim Burton’s Batman took inspiration from the comics such as The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns, creating a dark and serious tone for the superhero. The director wanted to bring a homage of the comics into his films while still making them appealing to its 1989 audience. Christopher Nolan’s vision was meant to bring an entirely new interpretation for the new millennium. He wanted to reinvent the franchise by emphasizing on Batmans origins and how he became the superhero we have imagined. He stated “that humanity and realism would be the basis of the origin film” and that “the world of Batman is that of grounded reality. [It] will be a recognizable, contemporary reality against which an extraordinary heroic figure arises” (Graser). Nolan created a superhero that comic fans and moviegoers could relate to by bringing both his past origins and a new contemporary side to his work.

    In any sense, Batman is seen as a crime stopping hero that protects his city from atypical villains. No one can deny that, whether reading the comics or watching the movies, that Batmans portrayal has had to evolve; which is why he is still an enormous figure in pop culture.

    Graser, Marc; Dunkley, Cathy. “The bat and the beautiful”. Variety. 2004. Web.
    Wright, Bradford W. Comic Book Nation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2001. pg. 19. Print

  3. qaisjanmohamed says:

    I think the reverse is also possible. One can perhaps watch a movie and then turn to comics to gain more information on the character and their background. The visual information they get from watching the movie then could perhaps have details added to it after reading the comic.

    Also the use of innuendos in movies can steer the audience in ways that can have them uncover the whole story from comics. An example of this is in Iron Man 2 when Tony randomly finds Captain America’s shield in his father’s stuff. This would hint the viewer to perhaps go back and find the connection…which later is explain in Captain America’s movie.

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