After a somewhat long break we are back to superheroes. Last time around we were in 2008 looking at what was arguably the best year yet for the genre. Today we’ll look at a few comic book characters brought for the first time on the big screen, an original black hero, two sequels, a spin-off and a once considered impossible to adapt graphic novel. But first there’s a little something that must be done.
Before we get going I have to give Spider-Man 3 a second look just to clear some things. I understand very well that last time I came across way to harsh on Sam Raimi, blaming him for a lot more then he deserved blaming. What I didn’t mention was how Sony handled the project and how they forced Venom into Raimi’s story with a crowbar. This explains why the Symbiote plot was so underdeveloped and why it seemed shoehorned into the overall plot. Now I’m not saying Raimi is a saint, he could have handled certain plot points a lot better and his direction was all over the place compared to previous entries. Throwing that to the side, I blame Sony and only Sony for how Spider-Man 4 was handled (read cancelled) and I have to be honest, if it wasn’t for Mark Webb (500 Days of Summer) directing The Amazing Spider-Man, I would not be interested in that reboot.
Back to 2008, we start with Wanted, the Mark Miller comic turned big budget movie starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman. This isn’t your typical superhero but the dude can curve bullets and he fights a secret worldwide assassin organization, so you could say he qualifies to be in here. Wanted made $134.5 million in North America and $341.6 million worldwide. A sequel has been considered and then dropped but there’s still a chance we might get Wanted 2 in the future.
Released on the 2nd of July 2008 starring Will Smith, Hancock became the first original superhero movie to hit big. It made $227.9 million in North American and $624.3 million worldwide, mostly thanks to the huge drawing power of its star, Will Smith. Hancock 2 is categorized as being in development on IMDB for a 2013 proposed release.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army came out on July 11th 2008. You see, the original Hellboy (2004), while loved by fans, wasn’t a particularly big hit grossing only $99.3 million worldwide on a $66 million budget, so Sony dropped it. Few years later, Universal stepped in and gave Guillermo del Toro $85 million to make the sequel fans expected. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army was well received by just about everyone but, turns out releasing just a week before the most hotly anticipated title of the year isn’t a good idea, even more so when said title is also a superhero movie. With $160.3 million worldwide Hellboy 2 didn’t cover its budget so the 3rd planned entry is now on hold. Unfortunately with time passing by so fast and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) not getting any younger (61), not to mention Guillermo del Toro being so busy with other projects, Hellboy 3 is starting to look like a pipe dream.
July 18th 2008, the day The Dark Knight opened in theaters. Now for those living under a rock, this is the sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins, the fantastic reboot of the cape crusader handled by the brilliant mind of Christopher Nolan. Now Batman Begins made $372.7 million worldwide, a good number, certainly not enough to prepare us for how big The Dark Knight would become. I won’t make a big deal out of it but the untimely death of Heath Ledger (28 at the time), playing the Joker in the movie, turned more then a few heads and ears. But it was the movie that kept building hype and if Spider-Man 3 taught us anything, hugely anticipated popular superhero movies can become extremely popular at the box office. The Dark Knight was no different, grossing $158.4 million opening weekend, a new record at the time (second today). It generated $533.3 million in North America becoming the 2nd highest grosser ever (3rd today) and by far the biggest superhero movie (a title it still holds). The Dark Knight made over $1 billion worldwide (4th movie to ever get there) turning Batman in Warner’s biggest moneymaker and going as far as having them move Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (that was set to open in November 2008) to summer 2009 just so they had a big movie the following year, since they already had their fill for 2008. The Dark Knight Rises, followup to this, will open in July 2012.
As you might remember, 2008 started bad for superhero movies with the godawful Superhero Movie. It was only fitting that it would end on that same note with The Spirit. This is a movie I can only describe in so many words and those would be: REALLY BAD. The Spirit made only $39 million worldwide, so a massive disappointment on all accounts.
Watchmen, the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the most celebrated graphic novel ever, came out in March 2009 under the direction of Zack Snyder of 300 fame. Thought by many to be impossible to adapt, making Watchmen was anything but an easy task. When it finally came out, the movie was appreciated for a lot of things it did (or tried to do) but not nearly as much as I think it deserved. For anyone interested in a more complex, brainy, superhero flick, I definitely recommend you watch this. It gets a lot more hate then it should, blue penis aside. A 163 minute R-rated superhero movie is not what you would call commercial so Watchmen only made $185.2 million worldwide on a $130 million budget. Warner were not too happy about that.
In May 2009 it was time for Fox to dust off that old X-Men license once again with a spin-off titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The movie tells the story of Wolverine and how he became the character we knew in the X-Men movie trilogy. Arguably the most popular of the X-Men, this was the obvious choice for a spin-off and it payed off, at least financially since fans didn’t particularly enjoy this one all that much. On a budget of $150 million, X-Men Origins: Wolverine made $373 million worldwide and a sequel simply titled The Wolverine is planned for sometime in 2013 (and yes, I am well aware they are not calling it a proper sequel).
Finally on today’s order is Kick-Ass, a weird yet awesome flick based again on a Mark Miller (Wanted) comic. Coming out in April 2010, just before the big summer craziness, Kick-Ass had a lot of internet hype that unfortunately didn’t translate into big numbers at the box office. It made only $96.1 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, so at least it made back some money. The idea of a sequel has been thrown around but so far nothing is certain.
We started in 1978 and we’re already in 2010, now there’s just one more part left to go and I promise it won’t take as long as this one. Until then, if you’ve missed any of the previous parts, you can check them right here in the links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8.