Comic Book Review - Has Hollywood Destroyed Comics or Brought Them New Life?

Comic books have been around with us for well over a century, but the origins to the "Golden Age" of comic books; the DC and the Marvel comic superheroes as we know today have been around since World War II. The first major comic book hero was Superman, a character who donned himself with tight colourful tights and a bright red cape. Through the following decades we have seen our most favourite comic book heroes' change and develop dependent on the world around them. Over the last 10 years we have seen different faces portray the character of Clark Kent and actors ready themselves for the position of the Dark Knight himself, Bruce Wayne. But has Hollywood displayed our most loved characters in the best way, or have they gone against the origins and fans and developed a character that will be a lot more than its character profile predecessor and in turn be more approachable to a wider audience?

The transition from comic book strip pages to the small screen wasn't a short one. The early life of comic book superheroes was short; emerging in the late 1930's characters became stars over the war period however the massive fan base began to diminish around the 50's. The superhero genre was coming to an end, but characters did not die off. They were revamped and brought to life through the magic of TV. Captain Marvel, Captain America, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman had already begun to hit the smaller screen over the 40's but over the next decade these comic book heroes became television superheroes. This movement saw a resurrection of characters to comics, as well as new breed of hero's that came along with them. The result was a snow ball effect of comic book characters to the bigger screen. Batman the TV series with Adam West was one of the earliest transfers of action hero's to big theatre screens, and with the success of Star Wars the "Sci-Fi" genre was born. This capitalized into further feature films such as the commercial hit of Superman with Chris Reeves.

This began a new age of comic heroes; printing became expensive so comics were minimal but the cinema provided a new venture and provided the expansion to a larger audience. Comic characters were now becoming main stream and were no longer for geeks or sci-fi buffs but acceptable to the entire public domain. The momentum carried from the 80's with sequels to Superman and Tim Burton's Batman being a phenomenon as well as a cult classic. However do our comic caped heroes really work when stripped from the pages of a graphic novel? Is it a true representation of the character as we know them when they are brought to the big screen? For most this could cause a great debate. The cinematic view of Batman for instance is a theatrical and dramatic performance which contains the gothic nostalgia of Burton, but as for the character, he seems sadly missed. The film briefly depicts the killing of his parents that all fans will all know of; however the character behind the mask has little development. We do not get to see the character step through life; we do not see the stages that led Bruce to become the Bat as it is never displayed on the screen. Instead we sit back and admire the theatrical display as most will know the back story. The Joker (as played by Jack Nicholson) is more of a namely title. The character has much greater presence within the motion picture, just because his character is so fun to watch although the comic character is no more developed.

I believe this film had a significant influence to future comic heroes that have been developed into film. If you look into the many comic heroes that have come to the big screen and are now onto DVD it's easy to see how Hollywood may have changed the characteristics of our favourite superheroes, or like this motion picture the character was never depicted, a story of when good fought evil is told. However there has been a new age of comic books and films. Late comic novels such as "The Watchmen" (also produced into a blockbuster hit) began a generation of "dark" comic books that displayed not just similarities to us a character but to the world around us. We can now begin to see how our caped crusaders are not much different to you and me. They face a moment of weakness; we see how the character can relate to us as a mere human. In the same narrative we see that a hero is also affected by notions of love and affection like ourselves and a hero can also face pain, grievance and other feelings. In the same way we can relate to these characteristics, we ourselves can believe that we are superheroes in our own right if we live with the belief justice will prevail.

Through this era and into the millennium we have seen an array of DC and Marvel comics fly onto the big screen, although the debate over these films will continue to whether they are bad or good. I for one enjoy the majority of comic book characters that face the Hollywood make-over, although some have been better than others. Arguments will still occur over the fact comic book characters transfer to cinematic superheroes but the process has been in place for years. Marvel have worked long and hard to produce the best action sci-fi films over this decade and with upcoming films like "The Avengers" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" I believe they are trying to amend any previous mistakes. With prequels to these both movies, all characters from the main plot line have been displayed before so there is no need for a back story to them so let's hope the action storyline any negative reviews against the films. Along with the films there is sure to be gifts, novelty goods and figures. These will be collectables for most, but for others this is their first generation of super hero so these entities will bring these characters a new life through the face of Hollywood.