With Marvel bigger then ever, Superman and Batman back, superheroes were at their highest and surprisingly, they would not stop there, going above and beyond. Unfortunately there are certain steps that must be taken to actually manage to go above and beyond and, like every genre, the bigger they get, the more stinkers you have to shove to the side in order to get to the good stuff. Today we’ll do a bit of digging starting with My Super Ex-Girlfriend from 2006.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend was a comedy that tried to spoof the superhero genre, it wasn’t Elektra bad but it wasn’t good either. So it only made $22.5 million in North America and $60.9 million worldwide. Coincidence that Uma Thurman’s career took a nose dive after this with her only noteworthy appearance in the past 5 years being a very small role in Percy Jackson and the Olympians? I think not.
Next up is Zoom, a movie I had no idea even existed so I’m seriously scraping the bottom here. This came out in August 2006 starring Tim Allen and from the look of the poster it could be another The Incredibles rip-off… or not, I won’t bother looking more into it. Oh, almost forgot, $11.9 million in North America and $12.5 million worldwide (yes, it made only $0.5 million internationally).
Ghost Rider was the first superhero offering of 2007 and after opening with $45 million, it went on to gross $115.8 million in North America and $228.7 million worldwide. This had been a dream project of actor Nicholas Cage for years and from a financial point of view, it performed well enough but quality wise, the movie, well, it kind of sucked. There’s a sequel coming out next year, probably Sony thinking that people forgot the first one.
In May 2007 Spider-Man, the biggest player of them all back then, returned in Spider-Man 3, an overblown sequel that palled in comparison to the first two movies. What makes matters worse is previews made it look like the second coming and everyone was pumped, it was by far the most highly anticipated movie of 2007 and it showed just that opening weekend, scoring a record breaking $151.1 million. In North America it made $336.5 million, so a good deal less then previous entries but the 554.3 million it made internationally, made damn well sure that worldwide, this would become the new superhero box office standard with a whopping $890.7 million. What happened here was Raimi didn’t know if this would end up being his last Spider-Man flick or not, so he went all out, way all out, going overboard one to many times (emo Peter Parker is not something easily forgotten). What ended up as the highest grossing entry in the series would also bring the death of the Tobey Maguire-Sam Raimi Spider-Man in favor of a new take on the superhero, one very bold reboot slated for 2012 and simply called The Amazing Spider-Man. Naturally, this wasn’t a properly that Sony wanted to lose to Marvel anytime soon considering the Spider-Man movies were the top 3 highest grossing superhero flicks at the time.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, opening in June 2007, was the sequel to the 2004 Fantastic Four. Everyone returned for this and it showed, as it was that same movie we got three years before, just with a bigger budget. While it did make a decent amount of cash, $131.9 million in North America (down from the first one) and $289 million worldwide (also down), it wasn’t worth it to Fox to risk money on a 3rd movie that could have made a lot less. That being said, neither of these flicks were particularly bad, just really really average and sustaining such a franchise for more then 2 entries is not an easy feat. In other words Fox cashed out on Fantastic Four before the eventual hitting of the bottom.
While Fox avoided the bottom, we won’t, because what comes next is Superhero Movie from March 2008, an abomination of epic proportions, on the same level as Elektra and Catwomen. This is the very definition of a BAD movie. This was so bad that it actually tried to spoof movies that were not even out at the time, talk about a lack of ideas. A superhero spoof done right could be comedy gold but this movie doesn’t even deserve the bottom of a latrine. $25.8 million in North America and $71.2 million worldwide makes me really sad knowing that much better movies made a lot less money.
So there’s a saying, if you’re down, you can only go up and with Iron Man, released just 2 months later, we went way up. This movie really blew it out of the park with fantastic reviews (94% on Rotten Tomatoes) and phenomenal success. With $318.4 million in North America and $585.1 million worldwide, this was the movie that started the best summer superheroes have ever had. Not just that, it also relaunched Robert Downey Jr.’s career and put Iron Man on the map, showing the world that it wasn’t just Spider-Man, Batman, Super-Man and X-Men out there. Now that I think about it, there sure is a lot of “MAN” on there. Iron Man was also the first 100% Marvel produced superhero flick, not bad at all for a first try.
Now what Marvel were gearing for with Iron Man was an epic superhero team-up based on The Avengers comics. For that movie to happen, they needed to first introduce the heroes that would be part of that story in their own movies and hopefully, those movies would become hits. They obviously succeeded with Iron Man and Hulk was next. Now this wasn’t just any Hulk cause you see, back in 2003 we already had a Hulk that didn’t exactly set the world on fire and wasn’t particularly faithful to the comics either. So Marvel tried their luck with something different, a reboot called The Incredible Hulk. Now because this only features the origin story in a few clips during the intro of the movie, it might as well function as a sequel to the 2003 Hulk. Starring Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk made $134.8 million in North America and $263.4 million worldwide, hardly the level of success Marvel were expecting from the character. Now because I live in the future (not really) I can tell you that in the end, Marvel went with another Hulk for The Avengers, so that makes it three Hulks in just 9 years, crazy, right?
Next part, well, it’s all been leading to this so I might as well get it out of the way, The Dark Knight and also a bunch of other great and not so great movies.