Sunday Discussion: Is the Comic Book Movie Genre in for a Change?
by Alex Billington
July 20, 2008
With The Dark Knight well on its way to beat Spider-Man 3's opening weekend record at $155 million, I think it's safe to say that the comic book movie genre is not just a fad. I'm not sure how anyone ever got it in their mind that comic book movies would just be a temporary trend that would eventually go away, because it's been proven time and time again that they continue to be the biggest box office performers. And this weekend history was made - not only did The Dark Knight set numerous records, but for the first time ever, everyone is calling it a filmmaking masterpiece, even going as far as ranking it the #1 movie on IMDb's Top 250. I've been called out for making too many wild accusations about the movie recently, so instead of making any ridiculous claims, I simply want to ask if anyone's perception of the comic book movie genre has changed? Will The Dark Knight cause comic book movies to to continue revolutionize?
When I first saw The Dark Knight a few weeks back, I walked out calling it a cinematic revolution. My opinion hasn't changed much in the last few weeks, nor has it changed after seeing it two more times, I still think it's revolutionary and it's just a discussion of in what ways. What has changed is that now the general public has finally be able to see it themselves and most of them are not as viciously opposed any more. In fact, I bet it wouldn't be hard to find a few people who actually agree with me. Although that revolutionary aspect is still officially unconfirmed, the fact that it just had the biggest opening weekend in box office history pretty much shows that it may actually revolutionize Hollywood. It might not do much besides make IMAX much more mainstream, but at least it will have an impact.
As I continue looking at the comic book genre, I can't help but notice that most of the movies that top the all-time biggest opening weekend list seem to be comic book movies. There used to be a time where one could argue that just because a movie made lots of movie didn't mean that it was any good. And I think that's the most important aspect of The Dark Knight. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was the first fantasy film to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars, an immense achievement. If The Dark Knight goes on to get nominated for Best Picture and Heath Ledger goes on to win Best Supporting Actor, in combination with immense box office returns, I think this will undoubtedly revolutionize cinema and change the comic book movie genre forever. Thank you Christoper Nolan for showing us how profound a movie about a masked vigilante can truly be - that's the power of cinema!
As for where it all might go? Who knows. It's way too early to tell what sort of impact The Dark Knight will have. Which is why I'm not going to make any speculations of my own. Instead, I'm going to ask all of you what you think and what changes you believe are on their way… if any? There will undoubtedly be naysayers who think that The Dark Knight is just an anomaly and that the comic book movie genre still is a fad. While that can be argued endlessly, if you've seen The Dark Knight, you can't deny that it is a movie with impeccable filmmaking and speculator performances. Maybe those sort of great cinematic elements are no longer reserved for boring dramas any more? Maybe comic book movies finally have achieved a level of brilliance that only real life dramas and period pieces could achieve? I see The Dark Knight as a film like Silence of the Lambs or Return of the King that finally breaks past the bounds of the genre that it is in. So what do you think? Is the comic book movie genre in for a change?