I grew up in America during what is known as The Bronze Age of comic books. I was lucky to witness (and still own) the first appearances of Marvel’s Wolverine, Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men, Moon Knight, and many more.
Marvel gave me the heroes that I could relate to; the teenage Spiderman and the misunderstood outcasts of The X-Men. The troubled genius of Henry Pym and Tony Stark (Giant Man and Iron Man respectively), offered human symptoms and reasoning for addiction and depression in other-wise “super” personas.
Through DC comics, I experienced a somewhat darker, grittier hero/ villain dynamic. Batman and the Joker. The Doom Patrol. Barry Allen (The Flash) and his Rogues Gallery. The social issues that were explored in the team-up of the Green Arrow and the Green Lantern in the 1970’s are only mildly dated today and still have applicable significance.
But making these characters real in the conversion to cinema and television, though much desired by comic book fans, often produced cheesy results. Bright spandex and dialogue just did not translate. Although I would never miss an episode of “The Incredible Hulk” or Adam West’s camp portrayal of Batman, I would always think that the programmes could be so much better, and, like many more fans, craved as such.
Now, thanks to Bryan Singer’s successful translation of “The X-Men” in 2000, Chris Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy”, Joss Wedon’s “The Avengers”, and vast improvements in CGI and finance, comic-book movies and television programmes are big business. More thought and effort (and dollars) are being put into their production and marketing. Super-heroes are no longer for children.
The bombardment of the various Marvel movies focusing on a single character (Iron Man, Thor, etc.) ultimately leads to a big budget “team-up”. Throughout several ‘phases’ of production, every fan-boy (or girl) can hope to get a costumed glimpse of their favourite hero, at least two or three times a year. These hopes have now increased and become more of a reality. In case you couldn’t make it to the cinema, Marvel has come to you.
Any previous attempts by Marvel to venture into television serials have produced poor results. Their cinematic endeavours have been both visually outstanding and highly profitable, but DC has always found the more comfortable niche on TV. “Smallville” went on for ten years. “Arrow” will soon begin a second season.
The over-saturation was imminent. Gone are the days of Coppola, Scorsese, and Malick, and the comic book invasion of the media is ever present.
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, has now reached our living rooms.
I don’t really mind the fact that super-heroes and comic lore are so readily accessible. In many ways, the fan-boy in me relishes any interpretation, whether it is on television or in the cinema. So, with an open mind, I sat down for 60 minutes of promised intrigue and espionage, wondering how Phil (The Son of Cool) made it back from his cinematic death in “The Avengers”, and hoping it would live up to its heavily marketed hype. But was it worth it?
.. To be continued.