Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The History of Comic Book Adaptations to Film: Part Seventeen (2013)


Marvel Studios was riding high on the massive success of The Avengers. They were smart to make the next MCU installment an entry in their most popular franchise, Iron Man. 

The box office profits rolled over for Iron Man 3 and it ended up with a gargantuan $1.2 billion worldwide. The critics were also happy with the film, earning it a 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. In my opinion, this is actually the best film in the trilogy.

Jon Favreau did not return as director, and given the tepid response to Iron Man 2 and the reported tensions between him and Marvel Studios, this was probably for the best. He did however, continue to portray Tony Stark's bodyguard Happy Hogan.

The director turned out to be Shane Black, mostly known for writing Lethal Weapon and Last Action Hero. His only previous directorial effort to Iron Man 3 was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also starring Robert Downey, Jr. Black brings a fresh take to the series that was definitely needed.

Surprisingly, a subplot in Iron Man 3 relates to the events of The Avengers. Tony suffers from PTSD after going into space through a wormhole. It would have been very easy to just have a completely new storyline unrelated to previous films. Little things like this make having the shared universe so effective. There's also a quick reference to Thor when villain Aldrich Killian talks about a big dude with a hammer falling out of the sky.

Despite being in the shared universe, Iron Man 3 focuses much more on the title character than the second one. It doesn't have to worry about shoehorning in characters that are being set up for future movies. This is the first film in the series not to have any agents of SHIELD appear.

This is also the first MCU film not to hint at future films in an after credits scene. Instead, there is a humorous part involving Bruce Banner. Mark Ruffalo returned for this cameo, which was technically the first time the character had been portrayed by the same actor in two films. This is the only other time Ruffalo has appeared in the MCU. His only confirmed upcoming appearance will be in 2015's The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Many comic book fans were upset with the twist regarding The Mandarin. It does go strongly against the source material, but I thought it worked well in the film's universe. And there's no reason the "real" Mandarin can't be out there somewhere in the MCU,

There are currently no plans for a fourth film. Downey is contracted to appear in two more films. The first of which is The Avengers: Age of Ultron, scheduled to be released in 2015. The second will presumably be the third Avengers film, so any further solo efforts would presumably require a recast or a new contract.

Personally, I think the trilogy stands well on its own. 3 was enough, I don't know that we need any more Iron Man films for now. Just keep having the character show up in Avengers films and maybe other solo films.


After Iron Man 3, next up for Marvel Studios was the second Thor film. The Dark World was decent but marked a definite decline from Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. In my opinion it is clearly the weakest entry in Phase Two of the MCU so far. However, the others have all been excellent, so this doesn't make this one a bad film.

It was also the lowest grossing film of Phase Two, making "only" $644 million worldwide and $206 million in the United States.

Like Iron Man 3, the plot of this one directly relates to the events of The Avengers. Loki is imprisoned at the beginning of the movie due to his actions in that film.

Other than that, connections to the greater MCU are minimal. One example is Loki taking the form of Captain America for a minute to taunt Thor. Then there's the after credits scene. Volstagg and Sif meet up with The Collector, played by Benicio del Toro. This character played a decently large role in the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy.

A second Thor film was talked about even before the first one came out in theaters. It was supposed to be directed by Patty Jenkins, known for Monster. However, this fell through and she was replaced Game of Thrones veteran Alan Taylor.

While Loki would still appear, the main villain this time around was Malekith. The character was created relatively recently in comics history in 1984 by Walt Simonson. Many complained that Malekith was underdeveloped, an argument that I can understand. Supposedly this was due to script rewrites that put more of the focus on Loki due to Tom Hiddleston's popularity.

The parts in various realms are very cool, but the scenes on Earth tend to be a bit boring. I would really like to see a Thor film that spent little to no time on "Midgard". I'm also somewhat tired of the Jane Foster character. I wouldn't mind if she gets killed off and Thor ends up with Sif.

A third Thor film is currently confirmed but little else is known. It will come after Age of Ultron, and presumably before Avengers 3.

I would assume that the events of Ragnarok could be related. We should also expect to see Surtur, who was almost a small part of the second film. Major Thor villians Enchantress and Executioner have also yet to be seen on screen.

I'm also really hoping for a Beta Ray Bill appearance in future Thor movies.


 A sequel to Superman Returns was at one point considered, but the perceived under-performance at the box office and among fans led to a reboot. This version of Superman would have nothing to do with previous incarnations of the character, marking the first time this film series had been rebooted.

Man of Steel was clearly made in the vein of Nolan's Batman films. He served as a producer, but didn't direct, Instead, directing duties fell to Zack Snyder. Snyder had previously adapted two graphic novels, 300 and Watchmen. The former was a pretty solid film due to the quality and cinematic nature of the graphic novel and a fairly literal translation. The latter missed the point of the source material entirely.

I was never really a fan of any of the previous Superman films, so this was actually the best Superman movie in my opinion. However, that isn't saying much and this film fell far short of what it could have been,

A big part of the film's problem is the serious tone that pervades most of it. They tried too hard to make it like the Dark Knight trilogy when that approach doesn't feel the same with Superman.

There was also a significant controversy over the ending where Superman snaps the neck of General Zod. Fans were divided due to Superman's famous aversion to killing in the comics. However, the implication may be that this is how Superman gains that aversion in this universe.

Man of Steel was pretty successful at the box office. It more than doubled its $225 million budget with a worldwide take of almost $670 million.

This is the first, and currently only, film in the DC cinematic universe. While there are no other heroes mentioned, there are some small references to the greater DC world. One of these is a satellite that says "Wayne Enterprises". There's also an advertisement for "Blaze Comics" a nod to hero Booster Gold, as well as a reference to S.T.A.R. Labs.

The next film in this universe will be the 2016 release Batman v, Superman: Dawn of Justice. Snyder will again direct.

Most of the cast from this film is scheduled to return, including Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, and Laurence Fishburne. In a somewhat surprising move, Ben Affleck will portray Batman, In an equally controversial casting move, Snyder went with Jesse Eisenberg as supervillain Lex Luthor.


After X-Men: First Class, FOX went with a solo The Wolverine film. This character had not been featured in more than a cameo since the first Wolverine solo film in 2009. This movie pretty much ignored that one, but does follow the events of X-Men: The Last Stand.

None of the other X-Men are in the main section of the film, besides Jean Grey in a dream sequence. However, there is an after credit scene featuring Magneto and a seemingly revived Professor X that sets up X-Men: Days of Future Past. Wolverine would end up being a major part of that film as well.

The Wolverine was directed by the very capable James Mangold. He previously made Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma. Bryan Singer turned down the opportunity to direct and Darren Aronofsky was attached before Mangold. I can't imagine what an Aronofsky comic book film would be like.

Of course Wolverine was portrayed by Hugh Jackman. If you count his cameo in First Class, this is the sixth time he has played the character.

The major comic book influence was the limited series simply titled, "Wolverine" written by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller from 1982.

This film was solid success for FOX. The budget was a moderate $120 million and it made over $415 million worldwide. Reviews were also decent; it had a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes.


The Kick-Ass 2 comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. was published in 2010. 2013 saw the release of its movie adaption.

It was directed by Jeff Wadlow, who is currently slated to direct the upcoming X-Force movie for FOX.

Critics did not take kindly to the film, as it got only a 29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

There was also a bit of controversy surrounding the film. Star Jim Carrey withdrew his support for the film in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. He suddenly had a problem with the portrayal of violence seen in the movie.  He wrote, "I did Kick-Ass a month before Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."

Unfortunately, all this does is further the perception of a relation between film violence and real world incidents.


This was easily the biggest comic book flop of the year. It had a decently sized budget and $130 million. It didn't even come close to making it back, only  getting $78 million total.

The original comic was written by Peter M. Lenkov. Lenkov has also done quite a bit of writing for television. 

The film was directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, Red) and starred Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. Both actors were in previous comic book adaptations. Bridges was the villain in Iron Man and Reynolds appeared in X: Men: Origins and Blade Trinity.


A sequel to the 2010 Red was released in 2013 as well. Most of the main cast returned, but the director was Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) this time around.

This one was pretty uninspired and only got a 42% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It did alright at the box office, not quite reaching double its budget. 


2 Guns is an action film based on a graphic novel of the same name by Steven Grant. Grant wrote for Marvel on The Punisher in the mid 1980s. 

It starred Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Reviews were average, landing it a 64% on RT.

Like to start out the beginning  of the history of comic book movies? Check it out here.

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