The Impact of Comics on the Movie Industry

By Rohit C. 

Comic books initially started as comic strips appearing in the newspapers in the late 19th century. As they grew in popularity, some were collated into a book form which started the journey of comics books. Over the next few years, comics books became a booming industry, entertaining people from all walks of life. The massive popularity of comics combined with the arrival of the superhero genre created a never-before-seen frenzy in media. Comics quickly became the talk of the town in all TV, radio shows and print media as comics finally entered the world of movies. 



The success of movies based on comics 

In 1978, a movie came out that catapulted comic book-movie fusion to a new level of creativity. A  highly popular superhero comic book with a mesmerizing storyline was infused with sensational special effects, and an engrossing screenplay to create a runaway blockbuster. The movie was Superman, and the tagline read “You will believe a man can fly”. 

Superman’s special effects cast a magical spell on the audience, along with some memorable performances, and a story that strongly resonated with the good vs evil themes.  Superman became the most iconic comic book genre movie and created a box-office record. There has been no looking back for comic book genre movies since then, setting the box-office on fire with the recent Avengers: Endgame (2019) movie becoming the highest-grossing film of all time.

Comic books have played a big role in disrupting the historical blockbuster model which was primarily based on romantic, theatrical, and family saga stories.. The winning formula that a comic book has is its visually appealing art, simple narration, and a storyline revolving around a hero and an archenemy. The right artistic balance between the storyline and visual special effects is what attracts and entertains a global audience. The fascinating action scenes and the gripping storyline keeps the audience glued to screens wanting more of it and coming back again and again to watch the grand spectacle! 

Advances in technology (VFX) have also played a major role in the massive success of superhero movies. The comic superheroes are now life-like, performing fictional acts, like flying in the air or jumping from one skyscraper to another, look seemingly natural. The onus has shifted on creators to stretch the limits of their imagination as technology in form of CG animation and mo-cap is making the impossible possible on the big screen! 

An interesting spin-off from the comic book movie genre  is merchandising. The likes of Superman, Batman, Spiderman all have successful moneymaking franchises, selling all kinds of products related to movie characters, posters, clothes, games, toys, even theme park rides. And now that superhero movies have big budgets and bigger revenues, it makes economic sense for producers to shoot movie sequels at the same time. 

 

Conclusion

A half-century back, nobody in their wildest dreams could have imagined that a time  would come when comic books would inspire a new genre of comic book films that would enthral masses like never before and, of course, generate billions of dollars in revenues. This gigantic transformation also changed how both comics and the movie industry were widely perceived as different forms of media with almost no connection. We have now large mass media and entertainment conglomerates owning major players in the comics industry, Marvel is part of the Walt Disney Company and Warner Brothers own DC. With their production and distribution companies, the fact that the comic book-film has turned full circle is no surprise.

 

Modern filmmaking is riding on the success of the genre of the comic-book film, attracting top directors and actors, with huge investments in movie production and distribution. How much longer this trend will last, only time will tell. It may take some time for other movie genres to make a foothold, but right now we all enjoy watching on big screen comic book-created Superheroes smashing villains to pulp!