Batman (1989) starring Michael Keaton will be thirty-years-old this month. When I think about superhero movies, I wonder how many fans of superhero movies actually read comic books. My sense is that only a very small percentage of fans of superhero movies are also comic book readers. Mind you I am not criticizing fans of the genre. My commentary is directed towards the cinematic-style itself.
As far as comic book based genres go, I place live-action movies as the medium that is the furthest removed from the parent artform that is the comic book. I count five art forms and here is how I rank them:
- comic books
- animated series
- live-action series
- animated movies
- live-action movies
Going from the bottom up – while I do not dislike live action movies, as an avid reader of comic books, they do not fill me with anywhere near the amount of enthusiasm that I have for the parent medium. To me, they seem to place an awkward emphasis on the actors who are portraying a costumed hero. In many cases the actors seem to get too much “face time” and not enough “cowl time”. By that, I mean too much “Bruce Wayne” and not enough “Batman”.
The animated movies tend to be big on violent action scenes and normally the storyline seems to be written to appeal to ages 8 and up. Most of them remind me of low budget musicals where the emphasis is on choreography and prosody and less focus on character and plot.
I placed live-action series in the middle of the list because I feel that television shows such as Batman (1966) and Wonder Woman (1977) tried to mimic, in each episode, the flow of a single issue of a comic book series. However, I level the same bit of criticism regarding actors in the live-action series as I do for live-action movies.
As for item #2, animated series, I feel that this medium comes the closest to the parent. I get the same amount of cerebral satisfaction watching an episode of Batman, The Animated Series, as I would reading an issue of Detective Comics.
Someday, I would like to see them put a comic book on the big screen. As a matter of fact, I do it all the time with the DC Universe app running on Firestick TV connected to a 72-inch screen. Besides having movies and TV shows to stream, subscribers have access to 10,000 comic books from the DC Comics archives. Imagine people kicking backing, listening to some music and reading comic books on their teevee.