Superhero films to flood summer screens

By Katlyn Moncada, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Bang! Crash! Whoosh!

For more than 70 years, superheroes have been saving the day in comic books, on television and in films.

From Batman to Captain America, a slew of superheroes will soar into movie theaters around the world this summer with their superpowers once again.

Going back to original and familiar storylines is not uncommon in filmmaking today.

“I think the significance of comic book movies is that it is established material with a built-in audience,” said Dr. Christopher Blair, associate professor of communication arts and director of digital media studies. “Hollywood is looking for sure bets. They are looking for material that they know is going to sell well.”

Because the familiar material already has an audience, Blair said movies are based on comics and published books such as the Harry Potter series or “The Hunger Games.”

He also said that, in reality, all comic book movies are doing well across the board, and even smaller superhero films are outpacing other films in the theater.

“The Avengers,” the first superhero film of the season, released May 4 and has an ensemble cast of Marvel Comics’ popular superheroes.

Robert Downey Jr. returns as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Mark Ruffalo joins the cast as the Hulk, and Jeremy Renner completes the lineup as Hawkeye.

Placing this many superheroes in one film to combat the evils of society may seem like an overabundance of power.

Blair said producers were able to make a plotline like “The Avengers” work because Marvel became its own studio a few years ago and, as a result, its films “don’t go through the same process that other films go through.”

“They pick a property and go with it,” Blair said. “This can only happen if you are your own studio. They came out with ‘The (Incredible) Hulk,’ ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ with the specific goal of coming out with an Avengers movie.”

Films like these would not work as a 20th Century Fox or Paramount production, Blair said.

As a studio, Blair said Marvel  has managed to create a tie-in to audiences because the characters are known.

“Every single character has been introduced, so that is a strong marketing position to be in,” he said.

Blair said when it comes to quality, he would be more concerned about the last film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, “The Dark Knight Rises,” than “The Avengers.” However, he also said he believes these films could make their budgets back within the first weekends of their release.

Blair said the budgets can range from $200 to $300 million when  marketing is considered.

There is anticipation for the installment of new comic book films such as “The Amazing Spiderman.” With comic books, cartoon series and the previous Spiderman trilogy completed more than five years ago, Blair said not to “underestimate the draw of Spiderman.”

He noted the new, younger cast and said as long as the heart of the storyline is kept, the new franchise should be a success.

Whether a group of superheroes battling villains or Will Smith in “Men in Black 3,” upcoming comic book films are expected to do well by fans and critics alike.

Audiences have seen the characters in the many film adaptations before, but there is no doubt that many of the films will be some of the highest-grossing of the summer.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.