Superhero film

A Superhero film is an action, fantasy or science fiction genre film that is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes, who are individuals who usually possess superhuman abilities relative to a normal person. These films are almost always action-oriented, and the first film of a particular character often includes a focus on the origin of the special powers including the first fight against the character's most famous supervillain enemy. The plot typically revolves around the efforts of the superheroes to thwart some dire peril of significant consequence.

Although the majority of superhero movies are adapted from comic books, there are a number of notable exceptions like "RoboCop", "The Incredibles" and "Hancock".


Early years

Almost immediately after superheroes rose to prominence in comic books, they were adapted into Saturday movie serials aimed at children, starting with "The Adventures of Captain Marvel" (1941). Serials such as "The Phantom, Batman, Superman" and "Captain America" followed.

In the coming decades, the decline of Saturday serials and turmoil in the comic book industry put an end to superhero motion pictures, with the exception of episodes of the television series "Adventures of Superman", starring George Reeves, which had been compiled for theatrical release, and "Batman" (1966) a big-screen extension of the television series starring Adam West.The Staff of Scarecrow, 2004, pg. 536] Other superhero films released at this time include Mario Bava's "" (1968) based on the Italian supervillain character Diabolik. [Cite web|url=|title=allmovie (((Danger: Diabolik > Overview )))|date=Unknown|author=Pavlides, Dan|accessdate=2008-05-16|publisher=Allmovie] Original superhero characters emerged in other more comedy oriented films such as the French political satire film "Mister Freedom" (1969) and the American b-movie "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo" (1966). [Cite web|url=|title=allmovie (((Mister Freedom > Overview )))|date=Unknown|author=Pavlides, Dan|accessdate=2008-05-16|publisher=Allmovie] [Cite web|url=|title=allmovie (((Rat Pfink a Boo-Boo > Review )))|date=Unknown|author=Beldin, Fred|accessdate=2008-05-16|publisher=Allmovie]

Later years

In 1978, Richard Donner's "Superman" was the only superhero film blockbuster of the decade, while the 1980s popular entries included Richard Lester's "Superman II" (1980) and Tim Burton's "Batman" (1989), both films leading into their own multi-film franchises.Lichtenfeld, 2007, pg. 286] Other superhero films were released during the 1980s and early 1990s to either less critical or audience acclaim including "Supergirl" (1984), "The Punisher" (1989), "Dick Tracy" (1990), "The Shadow" (1994) and "The Phantom" (1996).Lichtenfeld, 2007, pg. 287] Wes Craven's "Swamp Thing" (1982) and the original low-budget "The Toxic Avenger" (1985) were also made in the 80s. [cite web |url= |title=allmovie (((The Toxic Avenger > Overview ))) |accessdate=2008-06-15 |author= Mannikka, Eleanor |publisher=Allmovie] [cite web |url= |title=allmovie (((Swamp Thing > Overview ))) |accessdate=2008-06-15 |author= Betzold, Michael |publisher=Allmovie] Marvel comics`s "Captain America" (1991) didn't have a theatrical release. "The Fantastic Four" produced by Roger Corman was never released theatrically or on home video. In 1994, Alex Proyas' "The Crow" became the first Image Comics superhero film that established a franchise. As the last film in the first Batman franchise was critically panned for being too jokey and tongue-in-cheek, [cite web|url= | title=Batman & Robin Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes | accessdate=2008-06-18 | publisher=Rotten Tomatoes] "The Crow" brought in a new realm of violence absent in previous popular superhero films targeted at younger audiences and bridging a gap to the more modern action film.Lichtenfeld, 2007, pg. 289]

The new golden era

The New Golden Era (1990s-present), brought forward some of the most profitable superhero franchises in history, including, X-Men, Spider-Man and the reboot of the Batman movie franchise, Batman Begins. The success of "The Crow" (1994) catalyzed the release of a film version of "Spawn" (1997), Image Comics' leading character. The success of the "darker" Image Comics characters shifted the direction of comic book movies. Marvel comics soon released the first film to become a franchise, "Blade" (1998). "Blade" was also a mix of a more traditional action film as well as darker superhero film with the title character having superpowers as well as carrying an assault of weaponry. The next Marvel comic film was the surprise hit of Bryan Singer's "" (2006).

Several non-action film oriented superhero films were released in the 2000s with varying ranges of success. M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" (2000) is a thriller about a man who learns from a mysterious comic book dealer that he is destined to become a modern day superhero. Brad Bird's "The Incredibles" (2004) for Pixar was a critically acclaimed digitally-animated family oriented superhero film.cite web |url= |title=The Incredibles Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes|accessdate=2008-06-15 |publisher=Rotten Tomatoes] Other hybrids include "Sky High" (2005) which was a fusion of the superhero and teen film genres and "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" (2006) a cominbation of superhero film and a romantic comedy. [cite web |url= |title=allmovie (((Sky High > Overview )))|accessdate=2008-06-15 |author=Deming, Mark|publisher=Allmovie] [cite web |url= |title=allmovie (((My Super Ex-Girlfriend > Overview )))|accessdate=2008-06-15 |author=Seibert, Perry|publisher=Allmovie]

By 2008, several superhero films featured sequels including "Blade II" (2002), ' (2003), "Spider-Man 2" (2004), ' (2006), ' (2007), and "Spider-Man 3" (2007). Some series from the current and previous decades were also re-released. A "director's cut" of "Superman II" (1980) ' was released with "Superman Returns" (2006). Superman Returns is a reboot and a sequel to the first two "Christopher Reeve" Superman films. [cite web |url= (((Superman Returns > Overview )))|accessdate=2008-06-15 |author=Wheeler, Jeremy|publisher=Allmovie] Other series discarded the continuities of previously released films and started afresh, such as "Batman Begins" (2005), which was later followed by "The Dark Knight" (2008), and "The Incredible Hulk" (2008). [cite web |url= (((Batman Begins > Overview )))|accessdate=2008-06-15 |author=Wheeler, Jeremy|publisher=Allmovie] [cite web |url= The Incredible Hulk: A Smashing Sampling of Scenes - Superhero Hype!|accessdate=2008-06-15 |author=Huver, Scott|publisher=Superhero Hype!] Will Smith also starred in the 2008 superhero film "Hancock". To date, Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" (2008) is not only the highest grossing comic book film of all time, but also the highest grossing film (of any genre) of the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Upcoming projects

Many superhero films are currently in development. 2008 releases include a new film about the Punisher titled "", ignoring the two previous Punisher films. "Drona" is another Bollywood superhero film, which will be released on October 2nd, 2008. [cite web |url= |title='Punisher' gets Lionsgate overhaul |accessdate=2008-06-15 |last=Fleming |first=Michael |date=August 1, 2007 |publisher=Variety] The film "The Spirit", based on the newspaper comic strip by Will Eisner, will be directed by Frank Miller for a 2008 release.cite news | author=Pamela McClintock | url= | title=Christmas gets Frank Miller's 'Spirit' | publisher=Variety | date=2008-05-06 | accessdate=2008-05-14 ]

2009 holds a film adaptation of the classic graphic novel, "Watchmen", after decades of abortive development, directed by Zack Snyder and scheduled for released in 2009. A prequel to "X-Men" (2000) titled "" focusing on the character Wolverine is also in development. [cite news | author = Harry Knowles | title = Brian Cox to be CG Young-ified in "Wolverine" movie? | publisher = Ain't It Cool News | date = 2007-02-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-02-19] A Superman Returns sequel was planned for 2009 but delayed and later scrapped in favor of a reboot.

Following the mentions of an "Avenger initiative" in "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk", Marvel plans to release "Thor" in May 2010 and ' in May 2011 leading up to the July 2011 release of "The Avengers". A remake of "The Green Hornet" television show is set of a 2010 release starring Seth Rogen. DC plans to reboot the Superman series with a new movie, as well as released '. A fourth and fifth Spider-Man films are in the works for a 2011 release, as well as a film about "Spider-Man 3" villain Venom for an unknown date. Other intended releases are "", "Silver Surfer", "Ant Man", and movies regarding many DC Comics superheroes such as Wonder Woman and The Flash.


As superhero films have increasingly become more prevalent in the film industry, they have become targets for parody. Kevin Smith's 2001 film "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back", parodies film companies' seemingly compulsive purchase of comic book film rights with "Bluntman and Chronic". In the film, the character Brodie Bruce describes the process: "After X-Men hit at the box office, the movie companies started buying out every comic property they could get their dirty little hands on". Mark Hamill's 2004 parody "", about a comic book fan and a film adaptation of his favorite character, was released direct-to-video and achieved mild success, garnering a cult following among comic book readers. Craig Mazin directed the more direct parody "Superhero Movie", which was released in 2008.

Attractions of the genre

Despite critics' and fans' complaints about Hollywood milking an idea dry, the comic book superhero has become a promising subject for blockbuster filmmaking. Even without highly expensive stars, the film is likely to get some level of attention with its distinctive visual style. Furthermore the serial nature of their source material makes story material for sequels easy to come by with major characters often having decades of stories to use for adaptations. The producers of the "Daredevil" and "Sin City" film adaptations took that source further and used the pages themselves as preliminary storyboards to help establish the films' visuals and action.

ee also

* List of Superhero films
* List of films based on comics
* List of films based on DC Comics
* List of films based on Marvel Comics
* Fantasy film
* Action film
* Science fiction film
* Superhero live-action television series



*cite book
last= Lichtenfeld
first= Eric
title= Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action
publisher= Wesleyan University Press
year= 2007
isbn= 0819568015

*cite book
last= The Staff and Friends of Scarecrow
title= The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide
publisher= Sasquatch Books
year= 2003
isbn= 1570614156

External links

* [ Comic Book Movie] , a news website devoted to movies adapted from comics
* [ Superhero Hype] , a news website devoted to any media adapted from superheroes
* [ Agent DVD] , Contains a discussion about superhero movies with comic book creators, and a poll to choose the best film.
* [ Superheroes Lives] , Live-action movies based on comics characters or just superheroes movies. The most complete database of every superhero film made in the whole world with a lot of screenshots
* [ Superheroes Lives] , Live action movies based on international
* [ ComicScreen: Les super héros crèvent l'écran] superheroes movies database.
* [ Reviews of Comic book adaptations at the Stop Button]

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