With comicdom’s heavyweights – Batman, Superman, Spiderman, X-men, Hulk – already immortalized on the silver screen, is there an end in sight to Hollywood’s efforts to transfer newsprint heroes into celluloid superstars? A ready made audience, proven track record of success and a veritable league of costumed do-gooders makes that scenario unlikely.
Sure, there have been a few misfires: Ben Affleck as Daredevil and George Clooney (costumed in a nippled breastplate) as Batman spring immediately to mind. Yet, the failures have been rare and the successes (based on sequels and hundreds of millions of dollars in box office receipts) the rule rather than exception. Powering the demand and turnstile spinning are incredibly passionate fans and effective means by which to attract them.
And, lest one thinks comic book movies are only for mouth-breathing geeks, consider than the first “Superman” movie in the late 70s, coupled with far and wide accolades from the literary world a few years later for the graphic novel “Watchmen,” formed the foundation for what would become an ever widening acceptance of the comic medium as a pop cultural icon. It would be further strengthened as late 80s moviegoers were treated to a “coming attractions” of Tim Burton’s “Batman”; the visually-stunning, ground-breaking preview set the standard for creating early movie ‘buzz’ before the Internet and YouTube.
In more recent years to the present, such film ‘sneak peaks’ are most often premiered to adoring fans at large comic book conventions, or, Comicons – usually with director, writer and stars in tow. It is targeted marketing genius, really; appear and interact at a forum held specifically for your core audience then let them carry the PR banner to the masses on a grass roots level. And, as Comicons have grown in size and respectability, they are covered not just by industry (“Wizard”) or niche (G4 TV network) media but by mainstream as well (here’s the Associated Press’s take, picked up by CBSNews.com, ABCNews.com and others, on the debut of footage from the upcoming “Green Lantern” movie).
Still don’t believe me? Ever heard of the Green Hornet? He last appeared on screen in 1966 for one season on newly ‘Technicolor’ ABC-TV amidst the hype of the campy “Batman” series. With his trusty sidekick Kato (at that time Bruce Lee), he’s set for a return in January 2011, starring Seth Rogan. Chances are pretty good the Hornet’s mask won’t be the only ‘green’ associated with this one.