Rise of the Superheroes (2018) Movie Script

Once they were
larger-than-life idols
created to
entertain children
and were dismissed
by the adult world.
But in the new
characters created over
half a century ago
have re-emerged to dominate
the box office world wide.
This is the story
of how superheroes
have successfully
from the comic book page
to the silver screen
and conquered
popular culture...
comics had over movies
is they were ahead
of the audience.
They were
a rough and ready
cheap to produce medium.
And Hollywood
is just now,
50, 60 years later
catching up.
Mr. Robert Downey Jr.
The idea to me
of high school jocks
and the popular kids
their buddies together
and racing out
on opening night
to see a movie where
Thor and Captain America
and Iron Man fend off
an alien invasion
was mind-boggling.
still an appeal for characters
an audience
can see themselves in
but can see
what they wish they could do
and just cannot.
That they can fly.
That they can
swing from webs.
That they can
beat up a bully.
And there's just
something intrinsically cool
and appealing about
superheroes who do that.
This is now exploding.
It is the mainstream.
Summer, 1989.
A new phenomenon
has arisen
that fuels the imagination of
audiences across the globe.
Ever since the
first reports
that a new Batman feature
film was imminent,
helmed by young director
Tim Burton,
has been high.
And now, as the film prepares
for general release,
on the streets
of cities world wide
its presence is impossible
to ignore.
This phenomenon is quickly
called "Batmania".
There really
had never been anything
quite like it
at that magnitude.
You'd seen
merchandise successes,
obviously Star Wars.
You'd seen
merchandizing failures.
Dr. Dolittle.
You would see
other things follow it
like Dick Tracy.
But this one was different.
It was
so alien and so crazy
and the anticipation
was so high.
I remember when I was a kid
and the trailer came out.
I remember being
with all my friends
and we just looked
at each other.
We paid to go in the theater
just to watch the trailer
'cause there was no Internet.
- Vicki Vale.
- Bruce Wayne.
And what do you do for a living?
We just sat there
with our mouths open.
What alternate reality
did I wake up in
where I'm watching a trailer
for a Batmanmovie?
And although the
focus of this hysteria
was a new feature film,
the release
reawakened interest
in the character
of Batman himself
and helped revitalize
the medium
from which he
had emerged -
the comic book.
When Tim
Burton's Batman came out
people were definitely
reading comics,
but it wasn't super cool
to be reading comics.
But when that film came out
and the marketing started
and you had just
that Bat symbol
it looked so cool.
It wasn't about the actors.
It was just about the symbol
and the character.
The whole marketing plan
behind the Tim Burton
Batman film
did so much to broaden
comic book culture
and superhero culture
into all kinds of merchandise
and all kinds
of mainstream fashion.
I remember I was
in high school
just a few years earlier
and I never wore
superhero t-shirts
and I don't remember
seeing anybody who did.
Then all of a
sudden in 1989
everyone's wearing
Batman t-shirts.
That's the point where
geek culture, if you will,
had started to become cool.
The film was
released to coincide
with the 50th anniversary of
its iconic lead character,
and during Batman's
half-century lifespan,
comic books,
and the superheroes portrayed
in their pages,
had drifted in and out
of mainstream consciousness.
But they had never been
'cool' before,
and from the
very inception
of the American
comic book industry
in the late 1930s,
they had always
been dismissed
as throwaway entertainment
for children.
It was an
industry pitched to kids.
They were cheap.
They cost a dime.
They were sold in drugstores
and candy stores.
Kids would show up
and would put their dime,
their 20, 30 cents.
They'd roll them up,
stick them in their back pocket.
Maybe they'd trade them
with friends.
They were basically
something you bought
with a soda
and a pack of bubble gum.
You stored them
under your bed.
And when you grew up
and you were 16
you never read them again.
from the pages
of these
children's picture books
would emerge heroes who have
endured until the present day.
Although the formative years
of the industry were focused
on short strips
and comedy characters,
by the late 1930s
two of its defining icons
were developed by New
York publisher DC comics.
In Action Comics
Issue One,
duo Jerry Siegel
and Joe Shuster
introduced Superman,
and in response
the following year
Bob Kane and Bill Finger
created Batman.
The all-powerful
son of Krypton
and the Dark
Knight Detective
became archetypes for all
of the superheroes
who followed
in their wake.
When Superman was created
they did create a superhero
from another planet
who is in effect almost
like a god, but not.
He really wants
to be a man.
He really wants
to be Clark Kent.
He is the end of the spectrum.
All superheroes
are less than him.
Batman is not
a superhero at all.
He just wears a costume.
Batman is an everyman
who trained himself
to become a great detective
and a great athlete.
All the other comic
book superheroes
lie between
these two characters.
These are the alpha
and omega of our industry.
An immediate
hit with young readers,
comic book publishers rushed
to develop new superheroes
to capitalize on the success
of Superman and Batman.
And this creative boom
just as another industry
was also enjoying
an upsurge of interest
from young audiences.
With the advent of sound
in cinema,
Hollywood was thriving,
and film companies were
looking for new material
to bring to the
silver screen.
With their larger-than-life
and their dynamic
visual style,
comic books represented
an instantly compatible
Comics at their
best are very cinematic.
If you look at storyboards
for movies,
they're comic book pages.
The closer
you can get comics
to the feel of a movie
and the flow of a movie
the better they are.
Not to say that one medium
is superior over the other.
In the
late 30s, early 40s
when people went to the movies
it was an all-day affair.
You would have an 'A' picture,
you'd have a 'B' picture,
you'd have cartoons,
shorts, newsreels.
And really far down on the bill
was something called a serial.
Don't fire.
Save yourself, Flash.
You'll be burned to a cinder.
I'm setting you free first.
He has chosen his own death!
were the bottom feeders
for mostly kids
who saw Saturday matinees.
They might be
18 minutes long,
they were black and white,
they were filmed
on an absolute shoestring.
They started
with westerns.
Flash Gordon crept in
in the late 30s
and someone spent
an extra $1.50.
Superheroes start appearing on the
scene, '38, '39, '40,
so it was a no brainer
to try to get them in
to these movies.
It was
pretty logical that
once comic book superheroes
did become
very popular and visible
that they would make
the transition
or attempt to make
the transition to the screen,
to the cinema.
Bob Kane, Bill Finger
were very influenced
by Citizen Kane.
Jerry Robinson,
an early Batman artist,
took a lot of images from
German expressionist
and put that intoBatman.
Of course, when a Batman
serial did come out,
it didn't look anything like
Citizen Kane
or anything like
German expressionist films.
Oh, a Jap!
It is useless
for you to struggle.
My zombies are too strong,
even for a superior person
like yourself to cope with.
When I was a kid,
I watched the Batman serials,
which were terrible.
I watched the Superman
serials which were great.
I watched all this stuff
when I went to the movies
with my friends.
So it wasn't just
the comic books
we had rolled up
in our back pocket.
It was the serials that
we saw on Saturday morning
with the cartoons.
Those things were part
of an evolutionary process
that got cut in 1953.
Just asSuperman
graduated from the serials
to a household name through a
successful television show,
comic books fell
under the scrutiny
of the US censors.
As national concerns
over juvenile delinquency
reached fever pitch,
comic books were singled-out
as a bad influence
on young,
impressionable minds.
Having entered
the mainstream momentarily,
superheroes were once again
cast into obscurity.
And here they remained
until the world was turned
upside down in the 1960s.
As the Beatles heralded
the dawn of a vibrant,
youth-driven popular culture,
into this brave new world
came the return to screens of
the Dark Knight detective.
And unlike
his past incarnation
in the movie serials,
this Batman became
an international sensation.
Yes, Commissioner.
Dreadful news. Catwoman is
on the prowl again.
We're on our way.
To the Batpoles.
WhenBatman appeared
on American television
in 1966,
no one had really
seen Batman.
There were a
couple of serials
but this was a full color
multi-million dollar
twice weekly television episode.
And the great thing that people
forget about the '66 Batman
was it was shown
at 7:30 at night
and it was the first
superhero thing, media thing
ever pitched at a time
when adults could also watch it.
Batman became
an adult phenomenon.
It exploded this world
of Bat paraphernalia
and Bat merchandise.
I would venture to say
that the Batmobile
from the 1966-67 series
is probably still
the most recognizable car
in American history.
Just as I thought, she's mined
the road with explosives.
No wonder you had me
put on the Bat armor.
Gosh, you really think
of everything, Batman.
What's that?
Although the Bat armor
protected our car,
those landmines blew our tires.
Robin, turn on the automatic
tire repair device.
In the 1960s,
you had theBatman TV show
which was extremely successful,
but it was all about camp.
It was walking this line
between on the one hand
kids were happy
to see their hero on TV
and generally took
the adventures at face value,
but, of course, adults were
watching it and laughing at it
and by implication laughing
at comic book
superheroes in general.
Got you, you thieves!
One move and you're a dead duo.
Holy Bat trap!
Let's fight our way out of this.
It was
intended to be campy.
It was intended
to be a satire.
The writing of the show
was stupid and wonderful
at the same time. It was
just a fantastic thing.
It wasn't Batman
but it was a good satire.
It was inspiring
because you could
then look at it and say,
"That's not Batman.
But at least
we're doing comic books.
It's beginning, OK."
Who had the foresight
to know it's beginning?
Nobody. Not really.
But now we can look back
on it and say,
"Yes, it's beginning."
While this pop art
parody was propelling Batman
into the very heart of
the 60s cultural revolution,
in the comic book world,
a new force was
transforming the industry
and rewriting the rules -
Although the company
had its origins
in the comic book boom
of the late 1930s,
it was in the 1960s
that it truly made
its presence felt,
powered by
the remarkable drive
of writer and editor,
Stan Lee.
In a surge of
he created a wealth
of very modern superheroes
who proved
to have an enduring appeal.
The Hulk,
Spider-Man, Daredevil,
The Avengers, Iron Man -
these are the cadre
of great Marvel characters
that he created
with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko
almost overnight.
He created them all within
two years which is astonishing.
And what Stan Lee did was
to take these costume geeks,
these weirdoes, and set them
in New York City,
and he could bring in
tensions from the 1960s,
communism, alienation,
and he simply made them
psychological and human.
Every Marvel hero,
no matter how ridiculous,
tried to have a base
in a reality that the audience
could understand.
I had no interest
in Clark Kent's life,
or Superman's life.
Bruce Wayne was
as far beyond the reality
I was seeing around me
as realistically Donald Trump.
That was what was cool
about Spider-Man,
about Peter Parker.
He's a high
school student
and he was
a high school student
in a way
that appealed to geeks -
he wore a tie,
a sleeveless vest.
That struck painfully
close to home.
These Marvel characters
soon became
household names,
quickly transferred
from the comic book page
to the television set
through successful
cartoon series.
Their appeal
was largely confined
to the youth market,
and superheroes continued
to be regarded
as children's
This would alter
in the following decade.
With a change
in ownership,
DC comics had been brought
into Warner Communications,
a vast media group
with a powerful
film production arm.
This led, in 1978,
to the first
superhero blockbuster,
featuring DC's pioneering
Man of Steel...
Marvel was outdoing DC
in the comic books
it was totally the opposite
in cinema
because DC had
the most recognizable characters
for a mass audience.
So when the Christopher Reeve
Supermanmovie came out
that was obviously
a huge success.
What the hell's that?
Easy, Miss. I've got you.
You... You've got me?
Who's got you?!
It came
at a particular time
when big ticket cinema events
were suddenly really appealing
to audiences.
The idea of queueing
round the block,
hence the 'blockbuster' name,
was something that suddenly
became very exciting to people.
And I think he was obviously
a very well-known property,
a very famous property,
probably the most famous.
And, of course,
it is a family film,
but it isn't a
kid's film.
the first and second
Superman movies
of the late 70s
with Christopher Reeve,
directed by Richard Donner
and then Richard Lester.
They to me are
mythic American storytelling.
They roll out his origin.
Superman 2
is a fantastic Greek story
where he has to give up
his powers to be happy
or is he going to be unhappy
and save the world?
This is mythic stuff.
With an all-star cast
and the largest budget ever
spent on a feature film,
Superman andSuperman II
were shot back to back
and released
to enormous commercial
and critical success.
And despite the limitations
of visual effects at the time,
as the original film's poster
it made audiences believe
that a man could fly.
The challenge
to any comic book adaptation
is making it realistic.
For any sci-fi film,
for any genre film
that involves fantasy
or these elements,
it's the willing suspension
of disbelief.
If we can't believe that
Christopher Reeve was flying
in the first Supermanfilm,
if we can't believe that these
characters have these powers.
But I think more importantly,
if we can't believe
that the actor
playing it believes
that they are shooting optic
beams out of their eyes
or reading
the thoughts of others,
or teleporting
across vast distances
it's not going to sell
to the audience.
But Superman
didn't start a trend
and in its wake
only a handful of superhero
adaptations followed.
In the comics world, however,
things were changing.
This was nowhere
more apparent
than in the pages
of "Batman",
a hero who had undergone
a radical rethink
since the camp caricature
of the 60s TV show...
At first,
that had a big impact
on comic book sales of Batman.
They really spiked.
But they started to follow
the TV show a little bit.
Then when the TV crashed
and the ratings plummeted,
and then it was canceled,
the Batman comic books
were left in this
'what do we do now?'
Fortunately, I think
the writer Denny O' Neil
and Neal Adams took
a very different approach.
They took Batman out of
the TV show completely.
went back to the Batman
that appeared
in 1939, 1940.
And then got kind of
whitewashed out.
It was a dark avenger
who only existed at night.
He represented vengeance.
He represented
He led a very tough life.
And you had these
solo adventures of Batman
that Frank Miller picked up on
in the early 1980s and turned
into the Dark Knightsaga.
And it was this
darker vision of Batman
that would draw
into a far grittier world
in the 1980s.
With the release
of Frank Miller's
seminal graphic novel
Dark Knight Returns and
Allan Moore'sKilling Joke,
the comic book successfully
transcended its roots
as children's entertainment,
and became more adult,
more bleak
and often more violent.
In February 1989,
just as trailers
began circulating
for the forthcoming
feature film,
headlines across America
were focused
on the Batman comic itself,
and a four-issue story
that ended
with the murder of Robin.
You're on this path
where Batman is kind of
a bellwether character.
All comics become
as mature as Batman,
or they become
as dark as Batman.
Batmankind of
leads the way.
Obviously when Tim Burton
goes to do the character,
and the screenwriter
is assigned
and everything else,
they're looking
at the current comics
so the character
was turning dark.
And then you add
Tim Burton to the mix
and you get
what Tim Burton brings
and that's how you end up
with that movie.
As much as
the Batman craze of 1989
was driven by publicity,
the film itself
was marketed
as the brainchild
of director Tim Burton,
and this was key
to its appeal.
A gifted filmmaker
with a distinctive vision,
he signaled a
new Hollywood
that was young,
alternative and modern.
Tim Burton's
Batman was personal.
He's got a great look.
He's got
a great sense of things.
It was inviting
a creative talent
into the field
of doing comic books.
He couldn't have done it
in any other way if he tried.
Don't kill me.
Don't kill me, man.
Don't kill me.
Don't kill me, man!
I'm not going to kill you.
I want you to do me a favor.
I want you to tell
all your friends about me.
Who are you?
I'm Batman.
What Tim
Burton did in his film was
he kept it centered
in the Tim Burton universe.
If you look at
his long list of films
A Nightmare Before Christmas
to Beetle juice
to Edward Scissor hands
there's a consistency
across the board.
It has a Tim Burton DNA.
He was able to bring in
the elements of Batman
that people really understood
as Batman.
Gotham was dark.
It had an element of danger
that was omnipresent
which someone like Batman
to wage a war on crime.
He got
all the right things right
while still putting
the Tim Burton imprint on it.
Yet the film was not
without controversy.
When it had
initially been announced,
comic books fans were
outraged over the casting
of Michael Keaton
in the lead role,
an actor more associated
with comedy than drama.
Yet he proved
an inspired choice.
Michael Keaton
is the last person
you would expect
to see as Batman,
looking at any of the actors
who played it over the years,
and yet he was perfect.
Excuse me. Excuse me!
Excuse me...
Could you tell me
which of these guys
is Bruce Wayne?
Well, I'm not sure.
Thanks anyway.
- Yeah.
- Pretty.
Huh? Oh, certainly.
Michael Keaton was
exceptional casting.
Burton always said that
he wanted
an unexceptional Bruce Wayne
who would make
an extraordinary Batman.
And I think what we saw
because of Batman
was the idea that
you didn't necessarily need
an action movie star
to make an action movie.
You cast the
human alter-ego,
not the superhero.
With Jack Nicholson's
scene-stealing performance
as the Joker,
Kim Basinger becoming
a household name
as love interest
Vicki Vale
and a soundtrack album
all new material by Prince,
Batman not only revitalized
superhero movies,
but rewrote the rule book
on how to successfully launch
a blockbuster franchise.
It was the first
pre-ordained blockbuster
of the modern age.
It was revolutionary.
It broke the opening
weekend record by a lot.
It made $100 million
in ten days
It showed Hollywood that
there was an entire world
of properties
that weren't necessarily
originated as film
that can be made
into movies.
The film industry's focus
was not primarily
on comic books, however,
andBatman was seen
as a revival
of both a once
successful TV series
and of a 40s
pulp fiction hero.
Over the coming years,
this would see
big screen outings
for Dick Tracy,
The Rocketeer
and other icons
of the movie serials
as well as adaptations
of classic television shows.
Studios were
also now aware
of the box office
potential of superheroes,
and looked to Marvel
for characters
that could translate
to the big screen.
But the three films
that emerged
in Batman's wake -
The Punisher,
Captain America
and The Fantastic Four-
were ultra low-budget
that most audiences
didn't get a chance to see.
Marvel comics
are sitting right there,
the best-selling comic book
in America at that time.
And certainly there must be
movies to be made.
Well, there were,
there would be.
But the first ones that came out
weren't the ones that
anybody wanted to see
and they weren't
the ones that
people were
particularly proud of.
DC Warner Brothers did right
Marvel did wrong.
Marvel hadn't a clue
as to how to merchandise
its amazingly
popular franchises.
Get in!
Come on, come on!
And they sold off
a lot of their characters
to make quick money
into movies
that were so ghastly that
many of them weren't released.
While Marvel
characters were failing
to successfully
make the transition
to the big screen,
in the comics world
they were still thriving,
and the industry itself was
going through a boom-time.
Thanks to the growing
maturity of the medium,
and to a significant shift
in youth culture,
comics were suddenly selling
in record numbers,
with new publishers
and new titles
constantly being launched.
All these people
who had been in subcultures
in the 1970s and 80s,
the Star Trek fans,
the punk fans, the goths,
the comic book fans,
had all existed
in their own little cells
and they kind of knew
about each other
but were afraid
of the outside world
and the outside world
didn't know much about them.
Then there was this explosion
into the mainstream
in the 1990s.
Certainly you could
see it in music.
Indie rock became
alternative rock
as punk became grunge.
It was just
this huge explosion.
Now that became popular.
Alternative became
the thing to be.
I think that helped comic books
and comic book fans
grow out of the dingy
comic book stores
into a wider mainstream as well.
As this subculture
pushed into the mainstream,
by the summer of 1992
Michael Keaton's Dark Knight
came to the fore once
again inBatman Returns.
And having demonstrated
his box office value
with the original,
this time director
Tim Burton's imagination
was given free reign
in a far more eccentric take
on the DC character.
Pitting Batman
against the twin villainy
of Danny DeVito's Penguin
and Michelle Pfeiffer's
it proved
a far more divisive release.
Batman Returns
was a case of
Tim Burton making
a gothic fairytale
in the world of Batman.
And something that has
always blown my mind
even when I first saw the
film and I was 12 years old
is I'm thinking
to myself,
if this film wasn't based
on characters we all knew
it would be hailed as
one of the great arthouse
whacked out
fantasy movies of our day.
Eat your heart out,
Terry Gilliam.
When I went to see
it, I absolutely loved it.
First of all, the aesthetic was
like nothing I'd seen before.
Certainly nothing
in any kind of comic book world.
That gothic nature to it.
It was serious and dark,
but it wasn't bleak.
It was still fun.
And for me, as a young
teen at this point
and had never really felt
as a female that
superheroes or comics
were really for me
because in the era I grew up
that wasn't something
that a lot of
young women did.
So I didn't have
a female superhero to idolize,
but what I did have
is this amazingly cool woman
who falls out of the window
and gets licked by cats
and turns into
this incredibly sexy, sassy,
powerful, exciting
I've always been
a huge fan of Catwoman.
Always. And to actually see her,
not just on the big screen,
not just as a main character,
but actually even addressing
the sexism,
that she deals with
in the office,
something that seems so...
Well, we haven't
quite fixed that.
But seeing her
up there was huge
and she was powerful.
She was sexy,
which, by the way, is fine.
I loved that costume.
I think it was incredible for
a woman had to be sewn into it.
And she absolutely held
her own against Batman.
I think it was
I think Batman
Returns is a decent film
but it started kind of a
trend in Batman films.
where the villains became
more important than the hero.
Also two villains
for the price of one.
That film for me
feels less focused
as a Batman film
as it is an
exploration of
these very strange characters
as seen through
Tim Burton's eyes.
And these
strange characters
and the sinister tone
of the film
that they inhabited
limited its wider appeal.
I was on Batman books
at the time
Batman Returns came out.
And our sales went down,
because parents
were so upset at the movie.
They expected to take the kids
to see a Batman movie
you could take kids to see.
The Penguin material
was so frightening
and Catwoman too
was so disturbing.
that parents were outraged.
Despite a healthy
opening box office,
the film suffered
from a backlash,
forcing fast-food
giant McDonalds
to pull a lucrative
merchandizing deal.
Clearly never intended
as a family-friendly movie,
Batman Returns
proved too mature
for the summer
blockbuster market.
But this didn't deter
smaller studios
from investing
in comic book adaptations,
and the boom
in that industry meant
that there were now far more
characters to choose from.
Independent publishers like
Caliber, Dark Horse and Image
had created a wealth
of new heroes,
and while Marvel
was struggling
to get its characters
on to the screen,
films likeThe Mask,
Barb Wire andThe Crow
showcased these
more modern creations.
The Crow was the first one
where you took a character
the public did not know,
was not invested
in it at all.
You had a relatively
no name cast,
you had a low budget,
and it was this beautiful
kick ass movie
and the soundtrack was amazing.
The production design
was amazing,
and it was totally its own
singular vision of something
that was totally faithful
to the book as well.
For those people to make
that kind of investment
in a movie on a book
that no one knew about
I thought was amazing.
I think because
those characters were new.
I think because
The Crow was new.
The rights were much cheaper
to obtain than Hollywood.
Timecopwas another film
where you could get an actor
like Jean-Claude Van Damme.
who may not be the most fit
person to play Timecop
but he worked
in the film.
If you look at
all those characters,
people who went to the cinema
knew the actor
more than they did
the character.
So it was very easy
for the actor
to impose his persona
or her persona
over the character themselves,
which helped to introduce
the character to the audience.
Los Angeles, 1995.
It has taken three years for
Warner Brothers to regroup,
rethink and
Reeling from the outrage
at Tim Burton's dark and
singular previous outing,
this time they aim squarely
at the family market.
Once again, the cast
is an impressive ensemble,
with Val Kilmer replacing
Michael Keaton
in the lead role,
Oscar-Winner Tommy Lee Jones
as Two-Face
and Hollywood's
top comic actor,
Jim Carrey,
as The Riddler,
alongside Nicole Kidman and
Chris O'Donnell as Robin.
Behind the camera, ex-costume
designer Joel Schumacher
aimed to bring a different
vision to the series.
Yet the resultant film,
Batman Forever,
a commercial success,
would prove
a creative dead end.
Once Tim
Burton steps back,
what you're left with is,
do we build on
what Tim has done
or do we go in a new direction?
There's still the influence
and power of the memory
of theBatman
television show.
So those are the three
major directions you can go
with the franchise.
What no one considered
was doing
what the comic books
were doing,
because Hollywood's attitude
towards comic books was,
OK, what's wrong
with this thing?
How can we fix it
and make it a movie?
Every time they pick up
a comic book
their first thought is
what are we going to get rid of?
With all these
different forces at work
what happened next was
Batman Forever.
It was loud,
it was brash.
The imperatives
were commercial
and there were
a lot of one liners.
You called me here for this?
The Bat signal is not a beeper.
While I wish I could say
my interest in you was...
...purely professional.
Are you trying to get
under my cape, Doctor?
A girl can't live
by psychosis alone.
It's the car, right?
Chicks love the car.
By the time
it got toBatman Forever,
we were still willing to go
to see a Batman film.
That's when the Batman films
started to slide off the rails.
Again we had two villains.
We had another actor
in the Bat suit
who weren't
unwilling to accept.
Val Kilmer seemed to
sleepwalk through the role.
But he was upstaged
by the villains.
Tommy Lee Jones' very Joker
like turn as Two-Face.
Let's start this party
with a bang.
It was a character
who's not like the Joker.
And Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey.
I hope you made extra.
Who the hell are you?
Just a friend.
But you can call me...
...The Riddler.
It seems Schumacher
wanted to impose
his own stylistic vision,
which I think is
very much influenced
by the 1960s version.
Again, we went back
to the skewed camera angles.
We got a neon approach,
rather than the day-glo colors
of the Batman TV series.
Bat nipples.
Need I go further?
Although more suitable
as family entertainment,
with McDonalds
firmly back on board
for the merchandizing
this was Batman back in
the territory of camp parody
and comics fans
and reviewers alike
voiced their
When, in 1998,
Schumacher returned
with yet another Batman,
George Clooney
for the follow-up,
studio hopes were high
for another smash hit.
Yet this star-studded
would become infamous,
regularly voted as one of
the worst films ever made.
I don't want to be mean
but I feel like Schumacher
single-handedly destroyed
the Batman movie
In his defense, I don't feel
like it was entirely his fault.
I feel like Warner Brothers'
lack of understanding
of the story and the characters
is why he got away
with that interpretation.
But yeah, it's not good.
Hi Freeze. I'm Batman.
You're not sending me
to the cooler.
Batman and
Robin was the death knell
that would make
people realize
you could not treat these
movies like a t-shirt shop
and expect people
to come in every summer.
I've heard Kevin Feige at Marvel
refer to Batman and Robin
as the most important
comic book move ever made
because it was
so egregiously bad
that it signaled that
anything was better than this.
So someone came up
with the desperate idea
of actually paying attention
to the source material
because now there was
nothing else to be tried anyway
so we might as well try
to do it the way they did it.
would be years
before this new approach
came to fruition.
In the meantime,
just as the Batman franchise
crashed and burned,
a slump in comic book sales
saw the entire industry
go from boom to bust
almost overnight.
By the close of 1996,
industry leader Marvel
filed for bankruptcy.
With the comics
no longer able
to keep it afloat,
its only hope lay
in the motion pictures
that were currently
in development
with film studios
at the time,
and with their previous lack
of success at the box office,
their chances
seemed slim.
And then, in 1998,
a film was released
focused on a Marvel character
few were even aware of...
Blade was
Marvel's first successful
cinematic theatrical entry in
the comic book superhero world.
But for 99% of people
going to that movie
it was, "Oh, it's a Wesley
Snipes action-horror movie
where he plays a vampire
and he kills vampires." Neat!
It's like a bad dream.
There are worse things
out tonight than vampires.
Like what?
Like me.
It was surprising that
Marvel's first cinematic hit
turned out to be Blade,
because even within
comic book readers
Blade was
an obscure character.
He appeared
in the Marvel comic
"Tomb of Dracula
in the 1970s.
Blade was a character
who was half vampire
who hunted vampires.
Being able to describe
the character
in two to three sentences
is very important.
If you can do that then
the audience can accept that.
I think the success of
Blade was that
we had
an established action star
or somebody who was on
the rise as an action star
Wesley Snipes.
And we had
a very fun vampire film.
It was probably one
of the first films to capitalize
on what would later become
the vampire zeitgeist,
minus the romance and sparkles
of the twilight series.
You're one of them, aren't you.
No, I'm something else.
There's an interesting
lesson in Blade.
The fact that the character
was so relatively unknown.
There is no one
that could say,
"Hm, I think it should
be more like this."
If you put Superman
or Batman on screen
it's almost like
a Rorschach test.
You can ask
any film executive
what they think a Superman
movie should have
and they'll have an answer.
That's not necessarily
a good thing.
Ask them what a Blade movie
should be like, they don't know.
That could be a good thing.
I loveBlade.
I love the character
of Blade.
I love the movie Blade
and I love Wesley Snipes.
To make
that kind of investment...
It was the same
thing with The Crow
where you have
an obscure character.
On paper it shouldn't work.
And at the time, especially
then it shouldn't work
because there was nothing
in the pop culture landscape
that would indicate
that audiences were hungry
for a black vampire killer
from Marvel comics.
A character that didn't
even have his own book.
He was an ancillary character
from another book.
The fact that they threw
down, they made the investment
and they really made it work,
I thought it was great.
I wish that movie
got more love now
compared to a lot of the Marvel
movies that have come out.
None of them would have happened
without Blade.
Blade provided
a glimmer of hope
during Marvel's
darkest hour,
not just a success
in its own right
but only one of a number
of projects being developed
by different studios.
This last minute
couldn't have been
better timed.
Over the previous decade
digital technology
had been advancing
at an astonishing rate,
and this evolution
had fed directly
into the cinematic world.
FromTerminator 2
andJurassic Park
andStarship Troopers,
in the 1990s computer
generated imagery, or CGI,
began to enable
to realistically portray
the previously unfilmable.
At the dawn
of the new millennium,
a pioneering film emerged
that was inspired
by the comic book form,
and it gave a true indication
of the future of cinema.
What was the
first great comic book movie
that signaled
what the movies could do?
For me, it'sThe Matrix.
The Matrix is not
a comic book adaptation.
I don't care.
The Wachowskis came from
the universes of Jack Kirby
and Neal Adams
and all the other great
comic book people.
They were conversant.
They understood
the physics of it.
They understood
the wow factor of it.
They put it on the screen first.
That last scene
in the first movie when Neo
launches himself
into the sky...
Everybody in the theatre
that owned a box
full of comics at home
had the same thought.
That's Superman.
That's what is should look like.
That's what
we've been wanting to see.
How come I've never seen that
in a superhero movie?
Yet now
the wait was over.
After years of sub-standard,
low-budget films
failing to bring
the Marvel universe to life,
in 2000
one of its flagship titles
made its transition
to the big screen -
The X-Men.
Developed by Stan Lee
and Jack Kirby,
it would become
the biggest-selling comic
of the 1990s,
although initially
it proved less successful...
The X-Men have a long
and convoluted history.
They started
as one of the last teams
that Lee and Kirby created
in the 1960s.
Their book got cancelled
every five days
it seemed like
through the 60s and 70s.
And then in the hands of Chris
Claremont and Dave Cockrum
they had
this incredible resurgence.
The appeal
of the title was simple.
A cool bunch of characters
that had just been created
so it was
totally virgin territory,
and the chance to work
with one of the best artists
in the business, Dave Cockrum.
Spidey had been around
for five years.
The FF had been.
Everyone else
had continuity.
Everyone else had
a clutch of writers
who'd come before
who defined the characters
in the series.
This was virgin territory
and it was irresistible.
The X-Men were
very different
from Lee and Kirby's
other creations.
Where their previous heroes
had been normal people
transformed by exposure
to cosmic rays
and radioactive spiders,
this was a team
of mutants
who were born
with their superpowers
and shunned by society.
During Claremont's
17-year tenure on the title,
their struggle proved
particularly resonant
for an ever-growing
number of readers.
The X-Men are like
comic book fans
They are a close-knit
community of outcasts.
Within Marvel, there were
the Spider-Man,
The Hulk, Daredevil fans
and then there were
the X-Men fans
who would have liked
the universe to themselves.
I knew some people
who would read The X-Men
and wouldn't read
other comic books.
They were totally immersed
in the X-Men.
It was like punk rock fans.
We only to listen to punk.
We're not going
to listen to anything else.
The X-Men had that kind
of effect on comic books.
An X-Men film
had been in development
since the early 90s,
when Terminator
director James Cameron
was linked to
the project,
and although
20th Century Fox
had obtained the rights
in 1994,
they were unable to see
the true value
of their acquisition.
Fox couldn't
get a handle on the concept.
So I ended up writing
a memo
to explain to them
who are the X-Men,
what makes it different.
What I said was, this is not
a story about superheroes.
It is about trying to make
a place for yourself
in a world that
frankly doesn't want you.
And you have to
prove to them
we have value,
we have a right to be here.
With The X-Men,
it became mostly a story
about immigrants
coming to America
and trying to fit in.
I have here a list of names
of identified mutants
living right here
in the United States.
- Senator Kelly.
- Now here's a girl in Illinois,
who can walk through walls.
Now, what's to stop her
from walking into a bank vault?
or into the White House
or into their houses?
- Senator Kelly!
- There are even rumors,
Ms. Grey,
of mutants so powerful
that they can enter our minds
and control our thoughts,
taking away
our God-given free will.
I think the American people
deserve the right to decide
whether they want their children
to be at school with mutants,
to be taught by mutants.
That is
a more easily embraceable
or relatable concept
and unfortunately
more real than,
it's the adventures
of a billionaire
who wants to fight crime.
With acclaimed
young director Bryan Singer
calling the shots,
for the movie ran high,
yet as withBatman
a decade beforehand,
fans were anxious
regarding the casting
of their favorite character,
the violent
anti-hero Wolverine.
Initially Dougray Scott
was cast in the role,
but was forced
to back out,
and Singer returned
to his original choice,
Russell Crowe.
Crowe too was unavailable,
but he suggested his friend
and fellow Australian,
Hugh Jackman, for the part,
an actor most known for
his work in musical theatre.
And like Michael Keaton, he
proved an inspired choice.
I think the success
of the X-Men films
hinged on
the perfect casting
of Wolverine.
There is no character
probably more beloved
in the Marvel universe,
a character whose origins
were shrouded in mystery
for the longest time.
That film lived and died
on Hugh Jackman
playing Wolverine
in a way that fans
could get behind.
Come on, buddy.
This isn't going to work.
- I know what you are.
- You lost your money.
You keep this up,
you lose something else.
Look out!
would not be part
of the pop culture landscape
without Jackman.
The two are intrinsically
tied to each other.
None of those movies
would work without him.
He's so naturally charismatic
and he's handsome
without being pretty
and he's manly
without being brutish
and he sells
the savagery of it.
They built
this whole franchise
and this whole ensemble
around him.
He was this unknown Aussie guy
that came in from nowhere
to replace somebody
and he made the whole thing.
Like Richard
director Singer assembled
an ensemble cast,
including British
Patrick Stewart
and Ian McKellen
and rising star
Halle Berry.
And in keeping
with the comic book,
the film brought a realistic,
dramatic weight
to its fantastical
The ambition of X-Men
declared itself immediately.
The movie opens in
a Nazi concentration camp
with a family being marched
to their death.
This was not Ned Beatty
making jokes in Metropolis
This was not Jack Nicholson
mugging for the camera.
This was saying,
"We're going
into the real world.
We're bringing
the real world into this."
The film
opened with $55 million
opening the weekend.
That was the fifth biggest
opening of all time
and it was the biggest opening
weekend ever for a non-sequel.
Because Bryan Singer didn't have
a gazillion dollars
he had to put the emphasis
on the drama
and the characters
and the storytelling.
That's why that film still holds
up, not as an action movie,
'cause there's
very little action in it,
but it still works
as a character drama.
Are you sneaking around
in here, Charles?
Whatever are you looking for?
I'm looking for hope.
I will bring you hope,
old friend.
And I ask
only one thing in return.
Don't get in my way.
It's a
much more grown up film
than its predecessors,
in many ways
partly because it tackles
big political issues.
I think it deliberately
positioned itself
as not a film just for children,
not a film just for fans.
Something that is
an origin story,
so you don't have
to have read the comics.
But if you have read the comics
then you get all the joy
and delight of seeing
all these people realized.
Particularly post-Matrix,
the choice of the costumes
was very interesting.
So they don't go with
the yellow Wolverine suit.
Everyone's wearing leather,
everyone looks cool.
And again it was a cool film.
There were
a lot of women in it.
came out as a film
and you had this sort
of 50-50 cast,
not only were you
bringing in the guys
that were going
to see it anyway.
You had a lot of women
who wanted to go and see it too
because, hey, I want to go
see kick ass chicks.
It was such
a huge thrill to see that.
I know for a lot of people
seeing Batman on
the big screen was a big deal.
But for me it was X-Men.
It was seeing
all of these women fighting.
I loved that.
After its first
faltering steps,
in the wake of X-Men
the superhero blockbuster
was up and running.
Comic books were suddenly
a popular source material
for a whole
range of films,
and in the new millennium
acclaimed works
such asGhost World
and the Oscar-winning
Road to Perdition
took non-fantasy comics
and turned them
into serious cinema.
In early 2002,
the secondBlade film opened
and became
another commercial
and critical success,
yet all eyes were focused
on the Summer's big release.
After a short-lived
TV series
and several
successful cartoons,
Marvel's most
well-known character
was making his way
to the big screen...
The Amazing Spider-man was
one of the most
amazing creations
in comic book history.
Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
put together all the great parts
of superheroes.
They took a kid like Robin.
They took a family tragedy
like Batman.
And they took an alter-ego
like Superman.
And they put it all together.
And it just
absolutely caught fire
because Spider-Man was the
first comic book hero
with any gravitas
who represented the readers.
The problem
with Spider-Man
from a mass
entertainment point of view
is you could do a couple
of cartoons of him swinging
but he had these powers.
He was acrobatic.
He jumped around.
He shot his web shooters.
And there was a terrible
television show in the 70s
and basically the problem was
the technology was so poor.
until the magical creation
of something called CGI.
More than anything,
that's what bailed Marvel out -
the ability to portray
their characters on film
in a way that looked
credible and exciting
and would bring audiences
into the multiplex.
Look, up there!
Save my baby, please!
I sit there on opening night,
and I'm thinking,
this feels unreal, after all
these years reading about it.
Like, I'm actually watching
a Spider-Man movie!
Spider-Man swinging
across the screen
for the first time
had as much of an impact
on audiences
as seeing Christopher Reeve
fly as Superman
for the first time.
It was such an important moment
for fans of the comics.
And those fans were
secure in the knowledge that,
for the first time,
a film adaptation
was in the creative hands
of one of their own -
director Sam Raimi.
I've a
long history with Sam Raimi.
I think he's the perfect
director for Spider-Man.
The main thing with Sam is
he loves making movies.
And he loves Spider-Man.
He's a huge Spider-Man geek.
He's a huge comic geek.
Spider-Man, I know he loves it.
He came to that project
with a spirit that
had not been seen before
by a filmmaker
adapting a comic book.
As much as Richard Donner
succeeded with Superman,
he didn't grow up
immersed in Superman
the way Sam Raimi grew up
immersed in the stories
of Stan Lee
and Steve Ditko and John Romita.
This is a guy that knew
what mattered in Spider-Man
when he made his choices
for the film.
They weren't processed
through a Hollywood filter.
I think Sam Raimi is
the perfect choice
to direct Spider-Man.
If you look
at his body of work
from "Army of Darkness"
to the Evil Dead films,
he's the kind of guy
who appreciates the fun
in Spider-Man,
the fun in comics.
We look at them
with this gravitas
because they are heroes
and they protect us
from world changing events.
But there is something
inherently fun and exhilarating
about swinging through
the canyons of New York City
with a spider line
and just being a hero.
And in the
role of this hero,
Sam Raimi turned down
the studio's choice,
Freddie Prinz Jr.
in favor of Tobey Maguire,
an actor
who had won critical acclaim
in dramas Pleasantville,
The Ice Storm
and Wonder Boys.
Marvel had a lot riding
on that first
Spider-Man movie.
So it was extremely important
who was cast as Spider-Man,
Peter Parker, and who was
chosen as director.
I think the choice
of Tobey Maguire was perfect.
What's going on in there?
I'm exercising.
I'm not dressed, Aunt May.
Well, you're acting
so strangely, Peter.
OK, thanks.
He was Peter Parker.
He had the voice
and the look.
That's what I always imagined
Peter Parker to be.
It's perfect.
The film was the right movie
at the right place
at the right time.
It was good.
It was a character
driven drama.
It was focused on Peter Parker
and his journey,
his grief over the death
of his Uncle Ben,
his struggle to get
through high school, college,
and eventually balance all that
with being Spider-Man,
his unrequited love story
with Mary Jane.
Like Batman,
it showed that a film
based on a well-known
beloved comic book character
could blow away
all the old box office records.
The first film ever
to make over $100 million
in its opening weekend,
was further proof that,
if done right, superheroes
were box office gold.
And for
the comic book industry,
these blockbusters were now
bringing their characters
to an enormous
global audience.
Television has
exposed people to characters
they had no idea
of what they were about.
Maybe they knew who they were,
but until they see the movie
they don't understand them.
I remember seeing
the first Spider-Man movie
the first Sam Raimi
Spider-Man movie.
And when Uncle Ben dies
the audience is all torn up.
- Stay back, stay back!
- That's my uncle!
- What happened?
- Car jacker. He's been shot.
We just called the paramedics.
They're on their way.
Stay back!
Uncle Ben.
I've known this story
since I was ten years old.
It obviously affected me
when I read it.
But I never thought about it
on a wider audience.
When Uncle Ben dies,
the audience is devastated.
Here's where things change.
When you stay with the core
of a comical creation
that I loved
and millions of others loved,
translate that to film properly
you're going to make some money.
Aware of
the potential profits,
the Hollywood machine
now went into overdrive.
In the summer of 2003,
The Hulk was released,
and withThe Fantastic
Four and Daredevil film
already in production,
only six years
after facing bankruptcy,
Stan Lee's creations were now
the most in-demand properties
in the entertainment
The filmmakers suddenly realized
there's a market
for films
that are bigger than life
with colorful heroes
with wonderful special effects
and obviously where can you
get better things than that
than in comics,
especially in Marvel Comics.
The Hulk was
the second
Marvel Comics creation
between Stan Lee
and Jack Kirby in the 60s.
Again, in terms of archetypes,
who is he?
He is Frankenstein,
with Jekyll and Hyde
kind of mixed in.
The skinny doctor who gets
bombarded by gamma rays
and turns into
this hulking brute
and he has no interest
in defending civil liberty
or civil virtues or America
in any way.
He's utterly out for himself.
The Incredible Hulk
was Marvel's first
big television success
in the late 70s and early 80s.
It was well-acted and it took
the same sort of theme
as The Fugitive,
the 60s TV show,
and there was
a tragic theme about it
which I think was true
to the comic book.
He was a different kind
of superhero -
somebody who didn't want
the powers that he had.
And the TV show,
even though, comic book fans
had a lot to
quibble with,
I think it was very successful
for its medium for its time.
But translating The Hulk
into the big screen
of course you wanted
more than that.
Now you could have a bigger
Hulk, a much stronger Hulk,
truer to the comic books.
But being true
to the comic books
wasn't the primary
for the creative team
behind 2003's Hulk.
Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee
was the most
critically acclaimed
and internationally
celebrated director
ever to take on
a superhero adaptation.
His film was more interested
in psychology than action,
its script steeped
in allusions
to literary classics
and mythology.
I loved Hulkin 2003.
I loved it.
If I hadn't wanted
to go see the film
because I watched the TV show,
which I did,
so I already loved Hulk,
I would have gone
because of the director.
At that point,
it was pretty obvious
that comic book films
were going to keep going.
And so I think it was
a really interesting choice
to take a director
like Ang Lee and say,
"Here is a big, green guy
who wears purple pants.
Do what you want with him."
The gamma's too high.
Bruce, I can't stop it.
Harper, get out!
Get out!
The idea of
somebody like Tim Burton
doing a comic book film
made sense to people.
Ang Lee. You're like,
wait, what now?
But I think that
sort of gave
a little more of a footing
to comic book movies
for people who might have
dismissed them as kids' stuff.
The Hulk is
very much an Ang Lee picture.
But it's also super duper
comic booky visually
in terms of the use of panels
as editing devices,
the really bright
primary colors,
the unapologetic
larger-than-life action.
But it was a flop.
I think that was
another case of audiences
not embracing
a very arthouse drama
that was disguised
as a comic book movie.
And I think again,
like withBatman Returns,
the lesson that Hollywood
took from that is like
bring in great directors
but don't let them
go completely crazy.
Its ambition
was commendable
when compared to the rash
of films that followed.
With the Ben Affleck
vehicle Daredevil,
the second big screen
outing ofThe Punisher
and a tepid,
family-friendly Fantastic Four,
the run of Marvel-based hits
came to an end,
whereas theCatwoman
solo feature film
starring Halle Berry
quickly made its way
into worst-film-
of-all-time lists.
Yet sequels kept
the superhero flag flying,
with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man
2 and Bryan Singer's X2
hailed as amongst
the very best of the genre.
Spider-Man 2
is widely considered
one of the
greatest sequels,
in superhero movies.
The special effects had moved on
that bit more again.
Even in just
those couple of years
between films
they're developing,
they're getting
that bit more weight to them.
And they are just pushing
what they can do with them.
Particularly with
the Dr. Octopus character
and all these kind
of extendable limbs.
It has some of the
stand-out set pieces still
in terms of superior cinema,
from that fight on the train
and when they're fighting
on the side of the building.
It just gets that stuff
so right.
It's just hugely entertaining.
In terms of
being faithful to the source,
X2 was probably the high
watermark at that time
for basically
a comic book come to life.
X2 feels like a trade
paperback all in one sitting.
The first 50 minutes of X2,
the first act, I still think
is some of the best
comic book cinema ever made.
Don't shoot!
It gets
even more political in X2
and it gets darker.
was a fantastic character
and his early sequences
in the White House,
absolutely showcases CGI -
were very funny, very cool.
And actually really not like
things we had seen before.
X2 was
the one that showed
they really can
do everything.
They were just using
their powers all the time
without giving it
a second thought.
And not only are the
special effects terrific,
they feel seamless.
They feel like...
...they're unstrained
in a narrative sense.
And that's why I'm thinking
they're going "wow".
This is it. We've done it.
And as
advances in technology
helped transport superheroes
to the big screen,
they also helped bring
comic book aficionados
closer together.
Where the only forum
for readers
had previously been
letters pages
and the comic book
store itself,
with the coming
of the digital age,
once isolated fans
embraced the Internet
and reached out to others
who shared their passion.
Of course,
the Internet did so much
to propel and explode
fan culture
for comic books and all kinds
of fan obsession.
If you were a fan
of these comic books,
you felt kind of alone.
You know are there
other people out there
other than just a handful
of friends who are into this.
What the Internet did
with the message boards,
now it creates this broad
international community
where you can comment on
every comic book or superhero.
You can actually help
to shape the comic books
because the writers,
the artists,
would hear about
this too.
The message board culture
of the late 90s and early 2000s,
you were able to bridge a gap
between the fans
and the creatives
and the artist and the
writers were more accessible.
You could have conversations
and dialogue with them
and fans were
able to connect
and talk about what they loved
or what they didn't love
about movies or comics
or whatever it may be.
So we started to see,
due to the Internet
and online communities,
the explosion
of fan culture
which ultimately
I think has led
to there being
as many conventions
and fan conventions
as there are today.
Comic book culture has
become more fan culture.
Just people getting together
and celebrating what they love.
The opening years
of the new millennium
were notable for
the explosion
of beloved Marvel
onto the big screen
for the first time.
2005, however,
was the year
in which the Dark Knight
once again returned.
Looking to wipe
the slate clean
after the extravagance
and incoherence
of the Joel Schumacher years,
Warner Brothers turned to
young, celebrated
British director
Christopher Nolan
to start the series anew,
withBatman Begins.
And in telling
this story,
the creative team of Nolan
and David S. Goyer,
the writer behind
theBlade franchise,
looked directly
to the comic books -
in particular Frank Miller's
seminal origin story
Batman: Year One
and the pioneering output of
Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams
in the 1970s.
Christopher Nolan did
something rather
remarkable and simple.
He was the first major filmmaker
to tell the story of,
as they said in 1940,
who Batman is
and how he came to be.
It's the first origin film
of Batman.
Batman's origin
is just tremendous.
It's so emotional
and so effective
and so effectively done
by Chris Nolan
that almost that decision alone
gave him three quarters
of his movie.
Chris Nolan
approached these movies
almost like a John Ford
or Howard Hawks.
As a single relentless avenger
trying to find out who he is
and what he's about.
The work that
Denny and I had done
influenced that first movie,
and you could see it
right on the screen.
Of the DC movies
that had been made,
that first of those three,
just killer,
it's a killer movie.
achievement ofBatman Begins
can't be underestimated.
Christopher Nolan's
a brilliant filmmaker.
Start with that.
And watch the movie unfold
the way he tells the story.
The use of practical effects
in camera
to get away from CGI
whenever possible
not because
it's a financial issue
but because
of the aesthetic issues
and you've got a street level
version of Batman
that everybody in the world
except perhaps Joel Schumacher
was ready for.
and X-Men before it,
Batman Begins
featured an abundance
of acting talent
to portray major roles.
Alongside acclaimed but
little-known British actor
Christian Bale
as Bruce Wayne,
were Liam Neeson,
Michael Caine, Gary Oldman
and many other
esteemed actors
in one of the most impressive
ensemble casts ever assembled.
This leant the film
considerable dramatic weight,
and upon its release,
it immediately set
a new benchmark
for superhero cinema.
Batman Beginsblew my mind
when it came out.
I knew who Christian Bale was
so I was excited to see
what he did with it.
But I had no idea.
And I knew some Nolan stuff
But I didn't know
it was going to be that.
He was so good
and the story was so dark
and so grounded
in reality.
That was a whole new thing
for comic book movies.
A storm's coming.
The scum is getting jumpy
because you stood up to Falcone.
It's a start.
Commission Loeb set up a massive
task force to catch you.
He thinks you're dangerous.
What do you think?
I think you're trying to help.
But I've been wrong before.
Nolan wasn't a huge comic geek.
And he wasn't coming at it from
the point of view of some fan
who got his chance
to make what he wanted.
He was looking at it like
a serious dramatic filmmaker
who had an opportunity
to take this thing
and make it real.
Nolan's Batmans
were the first time
that someone approached
superhero mythology
as a legitimate
dramatic narrative.
I give Warners and Nolan a
lot of credit for committing
to the degree that they did
to bring that real
'cause I think there's
a whole generation of people
that that's their version
of Batman.
It was defining.
Batman Begins
helped to bring
a new level of respect
both to superhero films and
to comic books themselves.
The year of its
release, 2005,
also saw
comic book adaptations
compete for the first time
at Cannes,
the most prestigious
international film festival.
Sin City, directed
by Robert Rodriguez
andA History of Violence,
by veteran Canadian filmmaker
David Cronenberg,
continued in the tradition
of earlier films
Road to Perdition
and Ghost World
in demonstrating that
comic books were an artform
to be taken seriously.
The things that came out
that weren't
superhero based
really showed a lot of people
who don't read comics
that it was more
than guys in Spandex.
I think it made people take
the medium more seriously.
That it wasn't just
the pulp stories.
That it was that you could tell
a really beautiful narrative
and you had another layer to it.
You had the visuals.
The urgency of
truly high quality comic books
starts coming across.
Road to Perdition,
in particular,
I think it's fantastic
that people don't know
that's based on a comic book.
I love to tell them and say,
"Oh, it's a very
faithful adaptation as well."
You see them
scratch their heads.
That doubt of their sense
of what a comic book is
is what led to all the great
things that have happened since.
Yet in the years
immediately following
the release of Batman Begins,
the genre still seemed shaky.
Marvel adaptations continued
to flounder,
with Elektra,
Ghost Rider and a Fantastic Four sequel
all receiving
a lukewarm reception,
while third films
in proven series
X-Men and Spider-Man
disappointed fans.
Behind the
scenes, however,
Marvel was looking to take
its fate into its own hands.
In the 90s Marvel
was licensing its properties
to a variety
of different studios.
So, for example,
Paramount had Iron Man,
Thor, Captain America,
I think it might have had
Black Panther at the time.
Fox had the X-Men
universe of course.
Sony had Spider-Man,
Universal had The Hulk.
But in the mid-2000s, led by
a guy called David Maisel
Marvel decided
they would try and employ
a different model
of movie-making.
Maisel suggested
that Marvel develop
and produce
films in-house,
become a production company
in its own right
and maintain creative
and financial control
over its own properties.
It was a risky move,
as it required the company to
secure substantial funding,
yet Marvel
pressed forward,
with the rights
to only a handful
of its more
prominent characters.
In 2007,
they moved into production,
and under the stewardship
of David Maisel
and Marvel producer
Kevin Feige,
soon announced their
upcoming plans to the press.
I had published a story
that was on the front page of
the LA Times business section.
It had a picture of the Hulk
and Thor and Iron Man.
This was before
the first Iron Man film.
And the headline
was "The B-Team".
This was notX-Men,
the best-selling
comic book in America.
This was notSpider-Man.
These characters
weren't as well-known.
But there's nothing wrong
with being an unknown
as long as you make
a good first impression.
In 2008, the pressure
for that first impression
fell on the shoulders
of Iron Man
and his alter
ego Tony Stark,
the hero who would front
the debut release
from Marvel Studios.
Like Blade
a decade beforehand,
once again
this was a character
with little
audience recognition,
although comic
book readers
had been following
his adventures
since Stan Lee created him
back in 1963.
When Marvel got into
its second-tier
comic book fans, of course,
knew who they were
but the broader audience didn't.
In advance of the Iron Man
film coming out
there was
a big publicity campaign
to make sure that people
knew he wasn't a robot.
Of course, comic book fans
already knew that.
Iron Man's an interesting
character and very timely.
He was a character born
as the United States
was getting ready
to go to war in Vietnam.
He was a character
that came out
of the military
industrial complex.
Tony Stark working
as a defense contractor
with the government,
wounded in Vietnam,
and builds this
Iron Man suit
because he's so brilliant
with technology.
That's easily adapted
to our own age
where the United States
is in Vietnam-like wars,
in Afghanistan and Iraq
at the time.
Once again we had
this tension between
trying to master
this technology
but yet someone who feels
apart from that as well.
He's still part of that
military industrial complex.
But he makes it clear that
he's going to turn attention
elsewhere and help people.
I saw young Americans killed
by the very weapons I created
to defend and protect them.
And I saw that I...
...had become part of a system
that is comfortable
with zero accountability.
What happened over there?
I had my eyes open.
I came to realize
that I had more
to offer this world
than just making things
to blow up.
That is why,
effective immediately,
I am shutting down
the weapons manufacture...
For a technology
obsessed culture
you really can't get
a better superhero than Iron Man
to play to these tensions,
this love-hate
or love-fear relationship
that we all have
with technology.
Jarvis, are you there?
At your service, sir.
All preferences
from home interface.
Will do, sir.
I know Iron
Man was sort of risky
because people didn't know
who that character was.
But I was really excited
and the reason was...
...I feel that with something
like Batman or Captain America
there was this feeling that
you're not going to do it right.
You're going to mess up
my Captain America, my Batman.
Where Iron Man, because a lot of
people didn't know who he was,
you could go in and pretty much
do anything you want.
So it was a brilliant move.
If you're going to launch
a cinematic universe
that is completely unique,
you got to do it with somebody
that no one knows.
But casting
somebody no one knows
was not an option.
Bringing on board
a familiar actor
to play Tony Stark
was crucial
to the film's success
Marvel approached Robert
Downey Jr. for the role.
An Oscar-winning actor
who had emerged in the 1980s
and whose career
had been derailed
by substance abuse issues
and imprisonment
the following decade,
by the time of Iron Man
his career was
on the rise once again,
and he proved
the perfect choice.
This is the
role of a lifetime for him.
A lot of people thought
Chaplin was.
I think this guy was born
to be Tony Stark.
Robert's grown up
in the public eye.
Everything good and bad
that's happened in his life
everybody's seen.
And Tony Stark is a guy who's
also grown up in the public eye.
He's a genius. Everybody
appreciates his talent.
It made sense to have
Robert Downey
Jr. do this.
He has a history
with substance abuse
and Iron Man has a history
with substance abuse.
Robert Downey Jr.
had gone through some stuff.
He was still
a well-respected actor
but his career wasn't
flourishing the way it is now.
So I think what he did
for Iron Man,
Iron Mandid for him.
Tony Stark
is a brilliant character.
In a way he's sort
of comparable to Batman
in the sense that he
is a multi-millionaire
and he's a genius.
But that was part
of the appeal
because the darkness
in Batmanis fantastic
and that works for him.
But what worked for Iron
Man is he was really funny.
- Hello, Tony. Remember me?
- Sure don't.
You cast Robert Downey Jr.
who had famously
had his own problems
who's not a teenager.
There was no way
anyone thought
that movie was
only for kids.
It took on big themes.
It had scenes
set in Afghanistan.
It had Jeff Bridges in it.
There's a lot
going on in that movie.
Iron Man
was successfully sold
as a comic book
superhero movie
to people that otherwise
might be embarrassed
to go to a comic book
superhero movie.
It had adult movie stars.
Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth
Paltrow, Jeff Bridges.
This was almost a prestigious
comic book picture.
right alongside
Batman Begins.
It comes out
beginning of May,
shocks everyone
by doing $102 million
on opening weekend.
Second biggest opening
for a non-sequel ever
beyond Spider-Man.
That Monday
Marvel comes out and said,
"OK, here's what
we're doing next."
Marvel publicly announced
an ambitious
production slate
that aimed
to release solo films
for all of
its key characters,
culminating in a team
film The Avengers.
And while its other release
of 2008,The Incredible Hulk,
proved less successful
than Iron Man,
the studio was confident
it could bring superheroes
to the screen
like never before.
As Marvel enjoyed
the first of many successes,
DC's frontrunner returned to
movie theatres once again.
And whereBatman Begins had
created a new benchmark
for comic book
The Dark Knight
was a far bleaker sequel
that saw
Christopher Nolan
continue to push
the boundaries
of fantasy cinema
and brought Batman's
arch-nemesis the Joker
back onto the big screen.
This role
would be immortalized
by Australian actor
Heath Ledger,
who died just months
before the film's release.
The darkness
of The Dark Knight,
was fairly surprising.
It really went to places that
maybe you'd expect
a crime thriller to go to
more than a comic book movie.
But I think that had been
seeded in Batman Begins
taking this much more
realistic and gritty approach
to the character,
setting it in a Gotham
that felt much more
like a crime-ridden city
than a comic
book metropolis.
People were really excited
to see a Batman-Joker story
set in that world
with the cool casting
of Heath Ledger
as a pretty creepy
looking Joker.
Keep in mind the preview
came out before he died
so we already had a decent idea
of what kind of Joker
he would be.
You see, this is how crazy
Batman's made Gotham.
If you want order
in Gotham,
Batman must take off his mask
and turn himself in.
Oh, and every day he doesn't,
people will die.
There was
a lot of interest in it
because it was Heath Ledger's
final complete role on film.
He was obviously
an actor of interest.
He was Oscar nominated
for Brokeback Mountain,
so he was someone who
was clearly taken seriously
butThe Dark Knight
showed him
in a completely
different light.
I genuinely believe
that if he hadn't died,
people would have still been
as blown away
and interested
in that performance.
Come on, come on.
I want you to do it.
Come on.
Come on.
Come on, come on.
I want you to do it.
Come on, hit me.
Come on, hit me!
Hit me!
You just don't see
many performances like that,
especially in terms of
villains in superhero films
that are kind
of so intense.
It clearly dug so deep
into that character
and was really
quite terrifying.
And that's obviously
one of the main things
that people remember and love
about The Dark Knight,
Heath Ledger's performance.
If Stanley
Kubrick had lived long enough
to do a superhero movie
it would have been
The Dark Knight.
It was the first time
that someone committed
to the resources
you'd need
to take comics out
of the pop culture class.
It wasn't
an amazing comic book flick.
It was an amazing movie
that happened to be about
a comic book character.
And there's a big difference.
The performances
are amazing.
And the caliber of talent
he would surround himself
to do those films
is staggering.
With a
director like Nolan,
producing these
incredibly cinematic movies,
it's not that surprising
that these were really
the first superhero movies
that were seriously considered
for awards glory.
Heath Ledger was awarded the
Oscar for his performance
after he'd died.
Although none of those movies
were nominated for Best Picture,
there was a bit of an outcry
that they should be -
why shouldn't we take these,
not only seriously
within their own worlds,
but why shouldn't this be taken
seriously as a piece of cinema?
And following
the success of Iron Man
and The Dark Knight,
comic book adaptations
spread like a hurricane
through popular culture.
Studios desperately raced
to find new characters
and titles
to bring to the
big screen,
while Iron Man returned
for a successful sequel
and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine
was pulled from the wreck
of the X-Men series
to star in his own
cinematic adventures.
Having signed
a lucrative buyout deal
with Disney in 2011,
Marvel Studios returned with
the next two installments
of its cinematic canon.
The first of these
to be released was Thor,
and like Iron Man
this represented
the character's
big screen debut.
Thor is a god of thunder
who has this enormously powerful
weapon of mass destruction
that only he can pick up
because he is the only person
worthy of lifting this burden.
I think that
Marvel comics,
with Stan Lee
and Jack Kirby again,
were able to tap into this
other realm of gods that
we don't really study
in Western culture.
We have our Greeks
and our Romans
but the Norse gods
are very cool.
A god of thunder who
makes thunder with a hammer
and can shoot
lightning bolts.
That's something
we hadn't seen before.
Despite the character's
longevity in the comics world,
he again seemed
a risky prospect
for a wider audience.
Yet Marvel Studios,
and its mastermind,
President of Production
Kevin Feige,
were confident that they
could makeThor a hit.
With veteran British actor
and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh
on board
to direct the project,
they even altered their
tried-and-tested formula
and cast unknown
Australian actor
Chris Hemsworth to portray
this equally unfamiliar hero
Just the idea that
you have Norse mythology
with Shakespearean prose
in this fantastical,
crazy Jack Kirby on acid world.
I remember when
they announced the movie.
I was like, "How the hell
are they going to...?"
Everything else
is so grounded in reality
and Thor is this one thing
that I just couldn't see
how it would fit.
When I first sat down
with the Marvel folk
they said, "This is the most
difficult property we have.
We have so many ways
to fail doing this."
I thought, "Well, that's great,
good start."
But when I looked this up
it said, what's the genre?
It said, action, sci-fi,
fantasy, adventure, drama.
That's a lot of categories,
isn't it?
I said, "I think it has all
those things in the comics.
The biggest challenge is tone."
Thor potentially on paper
is quite a
difficult sell.
And it is certainly stretching
the realms of believability.
While you've set up Iron Man
with this real world guy
who is looking
at real world issues
and is set
in a very real world way
and it's very serious,
it's like, and now we're going
to have a Norse god -
is quite a difficult sell.
What it did expertly
is it was really funny.
- This drink, I like it.
- I know, it's great, right?
Sorry. It was a little accident.
- What was that?
- It was delicious.
- I want another.
- You could have just said so.
- I just did.
- No, I mean ask, nicely.
- I meant no disrespect.
- Alright, no more smashing.
You have my word.
it's a brilliant fantasy
fish out of water comedy
and didn't take itself
seriously at all.
Chris Hemsworth
was the perfect choice.
So is this
how you normally look?
More or less.
It's a good look.
Given how off the rails
Thor could have been,
I thought they did a great job.
And Hemsworth too.
That guy's no joke as an actor.
Like, yeah, he's big and yoked
and pretty and everything.
That guy's really good,
because that's a thankless role.
That could have been
so ridiculous and so stupid.
Although less
successful than Iron Man,
Thor proved
another box office draw,
and anticipation was now
running high
for Marvel's other
big release of 2011,
Captain America:
The First Avenger.
And this character
was the oldest Superhero
in the company's
a propaganda symbol dating
back to the early 1940s
and America's entrance
into the Second World War.
Captain America,
for my money,
is the most underrated
character of them all.
He was forged
in the crucible of World War II.
He was the first major
patriotic character.
He emerged
from the hand of Joe Simon
and the inks of Jack Kirby
and he was the guy who
was going to fight the Nazis
and whip them
six ways to Sunday.
The most ingenious idea
was the fact
that Stanley revived him
after all these other characters
had come out in the early 1960s
in The Avengers
comic book.
And he reintroduced him
in a state
of suspended animation.
He brought him back and Captain
America had spent 20 years
outside of
American society.
He famously lost Bucky,
his companion.
He thought he could
have saved him.
He's become Hamlet.
He's become the superhero
as Hamlet.
He has an existential crisis.
Remaining true
to Stan Lee's concept,
Captain America:
The First Avenger
was an origin story
set primarily during
the second world war,
and introduced audiences
to the character
before his
present day revival.
With another
relative unknown
playing Captain America,
Chris Evans,
and action director
Joe Johnston at the helm,
despite wider
public recognition
of the title character,
once again the film
was no sure-fire hit.
Upon its release
it proved divisive.
When I first heard
they were going to have
a Captain America movie,
I was concerned
because he has in the past
been rather cheesy.
And he was created
as a propaganda thing.
So I feel like, especially with
a red, white and blue outfit,
that's hard to do.
I think the first film
really sold that.
It was very clear
that he was created,
that this costume
was created.
It wasn't his
idea to wear it.
I think
if they hadn't done that,
a lot of the movie
would have failed.
You know, the longest time
I dreamed about...
...coming overseas
and being on the frontline,
serving my country,
trying to get everything
I wanted...
...and I'm wearing tights.
In some ways,
Captain America is
the Superman
of the Marvel universe
in the sense that
he's this patriotic hero,
this all American guy.
But his story is arguably
not as interesting
and certainly in the first
Captain America movie
which many would argue
is one of the weakest
of the MCU films,
it was already a difficult
concept to get on board with,
particularly coming
on the heels of Tony Stark
who was such an interesting,
flawed hero.
A guy who's just nice and
wants to serve his country
didn't feel like something
easy to identify with.
Strangely for me,
the first half of the movie,
so the period setting,
was actually more enjoyable
when here was
this weedy little guy
who really wanted to do his best
and hanging out
with Peggy and Bucky.
Later when he becomes
this square-jawed
fairly boring,
dare I saw it, guy
it didn't really work.
For me, it
wasn't until Captain America
and blows my socks off
then I go,
"OK, now I'm on board.
This movie's awesome."
This is the best working
story movie since...
It's up there with Batman
Begins, Spider-Man, Superman,
This is what I wanted out of
a Marvel comic book movie.
It is a full-fledged,
World War II
action adventure movie.
I was never more excited for
The Avengers
that I was walking out of
Captain America.
Although both
Thor and Captain America
had fallen short of the
huge box office success
of Iron Man,
their 2011
output suggested
that Marvel Studio's
audacious plan
was developing smoothly.
And this was not simply
a Superhero movie craze -
another of the summer's
tent-pole releases,
a big budget outing
for DC's Green Lantern,
proved a significant critical
and commercial failure.
But Marvel was playing
by its own rules.
Its multi-film strategy,
which would become known
as the Marvel
Cinematic Universe,
saw each
individual release
function as an installment of
a larger connected series,
with actors signed on to
portray the same character
in a large
number of films.
So you're gearing up for your...
obviously a spin off.
For Avengers or... what?
I got a nine-picture deal.
I mean you know...
You guys know more
about the news than I do.
I got a nine-picture deal.
Eventually, I want to make
all nine of them
or they're gonna kill me.
If Marvel
could pull it off,
this connected universe
would be
a revolutionary
And not only
was the strategy unique,
the studio was also
approaching superhero cinema
in a fresh way.
Previously the creative drive
behind many adaptations
was brought
by distinctive directors -
from Tim Burton
and Ang Lee
to Bryan Singer
and Christopher Nolan -
all of whom offered
their own interpretations
of the source material.
Marvel's vision was
in the hands
of President of Production
Kevin Feige, however,
and the filmmakers
brought on board
were expected to serve
as part
of a much larger project.
bringing in people
who are invisible hands.
If you're into film, you'd go,
"Oh, I see this touch here."
Or, "That's so Shane Black."
But the audience
doesn't see that.
You can't look at it and go,
that's a Shane Black film.
Whereas in a Tim Burton film,
you look at one frame and go,
"I think that's Tim Burton."
They've brought in
invisible hands.
People like Jon Favreau
Joe Johnston, guys like that
who know how to deal with...
how to get it done.
How to get it done on time.
How to work with a cast.
There's not going
to be any problems.
Everything in the screenplay
is going to go on the film.
It's going to be storyboarded,
all kinds of control.
But I think that's it.
It's just plain old craft,
that's what it is.
These guys know how
to make entertaining movies.
The greatest test
of this ambitious project
came in the
Spring of 2012.
Having established
their core characters
in successful solo films,
Marvel Studios brought
these heroes together
inThe Avengers.
Upon its release it broke
box-office records worldwide,
and became the highest-
grossing superhero film
of all time.
built it film by film.
They went
from strength to strength.
As each film was successful,
they began building.
But the game plan of building
all these disparate films,
to have the characters meet
again in the big blockbuster,
that's never been done
before. It's brilliant.
And it's offering
the audience
a level of consistency
they haven't seen.
Well, they can't get it
anywhere else.
thing that they've done
with the interconnected universe
is mind-boggling.
The fact that they got...
that The Avengers were on film,
I still can't believe it.
It's been years since it...
I still can't believe
they pulled that off.
The first
Avengers film was brilliant.
At the time, I don't think
I'd ever really felt
such buzz in the cinema about
how this was going to work.
We weren't sure to be honest
whether it was going to work.
Certainly for people
who were fans comic books,
I think it was
an absolute joy
to finally see these guys
sharing a screen together
and they were more than
the sum of their parts.
So together they were better
than they were as individuals.
And the Avengers
even saw Marvel triumph
with a character
who had previously struggled
to cross over
to movie audiences.
As the film's cast
were greeted
like rockstars
at premieres worldwide,
amongst them
was Mark Ruffalo,
the latest
in a long line of actors
to portray Dr. Bruce Banner
and his alter ego, the Hulk.
I think the Hulk found a home.
You could say the whole arc
of the history of the Hulk
since 1962 was,
"Where will the Hulk belong?"
Where the Hulk belonged,
surprise, surprise
was in The Avengers movies,
because it wasn't just him
hogging up the whole screen.
He really played off
these other characters.
Mark Ruffalo's rendition of
Bruce Banner was terrific.
When you didn't need the Hulk,
you could kind of send him away.
But when you needed him,
he was very effective.
Dr. Banner...
Now might be a really good time
for you to get angry.
That's my secret, Captain...
I'm always angry.
The idea to me of, 'high school
jocks' and the popular kids
and really anyone other than
'the nerd demographic',
their buddies together
and racing out on opening night
to see a movie where Thor
and Captain America and Iron Man
fend off an alien invasion
was mind-boggling to me.
And that is unquestionably
Marvel's greatest success
is that they took these
B-level characters,
B-level characters,
and made them
into A-level superstars.
While the Marvel Universe
was finally being revealed
in all its glory,
another Superhero series
was ready
to unveil
its final installment.
With audiences
still reeling
from the impact
of The Avengers,
two months later
The Dark Knight Rises
was released.
With Christian Bale taking
on the mantle of the Bat
for the last time,
he faced off
against fellow British actor
Tom Hardy as Bane, a
lesser-known Batman villain
created by Chuck Dixon
and Graham Nolan,
who had previously appeared
in 1998's Batman and Robin.
Bane comes off a lot better
in Dark Knight Rises
than he did in
Batman and Robin.
He's not a mindless henchman.
They present him
as a mastermind.
They present him as a bad-ass
which is one of
the most important things.
He's smart and he's a bad-ass.
Let's not stand
on ceremony here...
...Mr. Wayne.
Patience has cost
you your strength.
Victory has defeated you.
They made him
a household name.
Everybody knows
who he is now,
which I'm still
getting my head around.
You know Graham Nolan
and I are like, wow.
You know, we just came up
with a crazy idea,
and here it is
in toys, in key chains
and pajamas and Halloween
costumes, everything.
Released in July 2012,
with an unfamiliar villain
and Heath Ledger's performance
as the Joker still fresh
in moviegoers' memories,
this closing chapter in
Christopher Nolan's trilogy
had a lot to
live up to...
There is
the issue that The Joker
was such an impactful
presence inThe Dark Knight
that you're inevitably going to
miss that side in the next film.
You obviously kind of
want to see him again.
And who knows,
if things hadn't gone the way
they did with Heath Ledger,
who knows what would have
happened in the third film.
But one of the things
I really do like about it is,
it's one of these
rare superhero films,
which we just
may never see again,
that actually
has an ending.
It has a neat,
wrapped up ending
that you can feel like
that was where it was going
fromBatman Begins.
You actually get quite
an emotional pay-off, I think.
I never cared who you were.
Then you were right.
Shouldn't the people know
the hero who saved them?
A hero can be anyone.
Even a man
who does something
as simple and reassuring
as putting a coat
around a young boy's shoulders
to let him know
the world hadn't ended.
Bruce Wayne.
Nolan stuck to his guns
and did what he
wanted to do.
He made a successful arc,
the arc he wanted to tell.
It felt consistent,
it looked great.
Even though as
a standalone,
I don't think it's as strong
as the other two films.
As a set,
I think it will absolutely
stand up to the
test of time.
Christopher Nolan's Batman
series may be the high point
of this balance between,
the filmmaker,
working high cinema art,
combining, reconciling that
with what fans want to see.
I think that accomplished it
about as well as films could.
I don't think any comic book fan
could be disappointed
with the Christopher
Nolan films.
And I think any cinema fan,
recognizes the quality
of what he's doing
even if they had never read
the comic books themselves.
In the wake of these
two billion dollar
grossing behemoths,
took over the world.
Comic book culture fully
exploded into the mainstream,
merchandise flooded into
every conceivable store,
attendances soared
and no one had
to hide their passion
like a guilty pleasure
As The X-Men and Spider-Man
series saw reboots
that sought to revive
these franchises
after unpopular
third installments,
Marvel Studios' cinematic
output powered ever onwards.
With Iron Man 3,
Thor: The Dark World
and Captain America:
Winter Soldier
all opening to
critical praise
and ever-increasing
box office returns,
the spotlight soon fell
upon Kevin Feige.
As the success of the
interconnected universe
became ever
more apparent,
the press celebrated
the mastermind
behind the curtain.
For me it was the notion
of reading the Marvel comics
and not knowing
who would appear in what
because they all exist
in the same universe.
And obviously that
hadn't been done before
and now that once Marvel...
We started making our own movies
and we had the entire library.
I thought, wouldn't it be fun
to start doing that?
It's very smart.
The irony for me is that
it's just the Marvel universe.
It's the same Marvel universe
that Stan Lee created
in the 1960s.
And the genius of Kevin Feige
is that he just went,
"Well, Stan and Jack and Steve
figured it out in the 60s.
Why mess around with it?"
He's like
the Steve Jobs of movies.
And I think history is going
to be very kind to that guy,
when you have the ability
to look back at what he's done
in its entirety because
we're still in the middle of it.
I don't think audiences
can really appreciate
the magnitude
of what that guy's built.
It's staggering.
With comic
book characters
popular culture,
in 2013 Warner Brothers
and DC looked to revive
the original
blockbuster superhero.
With a story by
theBatman Begins team
of Christopher Nolan
and David S. Goyer,
director Zach Snyder
behind the camera
and young British actor Henry
Cavill in the lead role,
Man of Steel sought to bring
Superman into the modern age.
And despite some
negative reactions,
its commercial performance
convinced Warners
to press ahead
with plans for a sequel.
Yet the success of
The Avengers
and Marvel's
interconnected universe
had sent shockwaves
through the film industry,
and conventional
blockbuster franchises
no longer seemed
so attractive.
gets the idea that
because The Avengers
did so well,
they all should be chasing
cinematic universes.
and I think that's the negative
impact of The Avengers.
One that
we're still feeling today,
one that I think may eventually
have terrible repercussions
for theatrical
movie-going overall.
Because we really
don't have any evidence,
we don't have
much evidence
that audiences actually want
these cinematic universes
as opposed to they like
The Avengers.
Man of Steelmay have been
intended at the time
as a stand alone
Superman picture,
but between Man of
Steelbeing greenlit
and The Avengers making
a billion and a half dollars,
they go, yeah, we're going
to eventually make this
into what we now know
is the DC films universe
for better or worse.
With Christian
Bale's Dark Knight
still fresh
in audiences' memories,
Warners nevertheless looked
to bring the character
into the world of
Man of Steel,
and aBatman v Superman
project was quickly announced
as the next
in a series of films
that would include big screen
outings for Wonder Woman,
Aquaman and other members
of DC's Justice League.
And without a Kevin Feige
pulling the strings
and ensuring coherence,
the studio looked
to director Zack Snyder
to drive the
creative vision
for this
interconnected universe.
Casting Ben Affleck
as a new Caped Crusader
and introducing Gal Gadot
as the first big screen
Wonder Woman,
upon its release, Batman v
Superman: Dawn of Justice
came under fire from
audiences and critics alike.
When you
look at the DC films,
certainly there is a lot of
Zack Snyder coming into it.
Zack Snyder,
who directed Watchmen,
the first real nihilistic
take on superheroes -
superheroes who are faced
with not winning,
the unwinnable situation.
With Man of Steel and Batman
v Superman Dawn of Justice
those films have gone down
a dark road
because we don't believe
in the heroes.
Next time they shine
your light in the sky
don't go to it.
The Bat is dead, buried.
Consider this mercy.
Tell me...
Do you bleed?
I've wanted
to see Batman and Superman
fight since I was a little kid.
That's so cool.
I should have gone crazy
over this movie.
But I feel like
it was just too processed.
I think we've gone
too far with the gritty.
I think there wasn't any
sense of fun about this movie.
It just felt like
Superman was depressed
and Batman was angry
and then they fought.
Then Wonder Woman
comes in and she's great.
Then, we're all angry again
and everyone's depressed.
It's just all dark
and it feels dreary.
of Justice is a bad film
and part of the reason
it's a bad film
is because of how
massively it betrays
both Batman and Superman,
making them both
into absolute petulant idiots.
They're both violent
and selfish and stupid.
And actually it completely
ruins Lois Lane as well
and makes her into a
terrible damsel in distress
who's a complete liability
for the whole film.
It felt like a total betrayal
of these characters that
we'd loved for such a long time
and a massive misunderstanding.
While DC's
attempt to launch a rival
to Marvel's cinematic universe
proved hugely divisive,
elsewhere superhero films
were going
from strength to strength
and their stock within
the wider film industry
continued to rise.
A thoroughly refreshed
X-Men franchise
saw director Bryan Singer
return to the helm
and combine
his original heroes
with a new, younger cast
inDays of Future Past,
which quickly became
the most commercially
successful film in the series.
Marvel Studios seemed like
it could do no wrong,
and alongside a second
outing forThe Avengers,
fresh films emerged
that brought even less
familiar characters
from the publisher's past
to a global audience.
Studios, they're on fire.
of the Galaxy
Marvel showed, we can
make a billion with people
that even comic book fans
don't even know who they are.
Guardians of the Galaxy,
a title you can
barely remember
which was, no
offense guys,
but one of the worst
comic books ever done
and they turned it
into a fantastic movie.
But that's all they had.
The reason they did it was
because they had nothing else.
They didn't have
Daredevil, X-Men,
Spider-Man, Fantastic Four.
They'd licenced them all out.
What kind of deal
were they making with Disney?
Disney in a weird way
bought a pig in a poke.
But at the same time,
they took that pig in a poke
and made it into gold.
Each one of them,
they're varying degrees
of good and great
but they haven't had anything
that's overtly terrible.
They haven't had anything
that's a massive flop.
They haven't dropped the ball.
Even Ant-Man, for God's sake.
If you talk about superheroes
that should have never worked
should have never been
able to work... Ant-Man.
What's the one movie
that will never work?
And it was great.
In some ways
Ant-Man is the triumphant kiss
that Marvel can say,
"We've done it."
That we can even get away
with an Ant-Man movie.
For so long that would be
a joke. It was a joke.
Will we ever see
an Ant-Man movie?
Will we even see
an Ant-Man comic book again?
The fact that Marvel
was able to pull that off
in a successful film
again with good casting...
That was Marvel's way
of saying,
we can get away
with anything.
And in the
preceding years,
the studio continued
to bring its Midas touch
to both sequels
and new projects,
with Doctor Strange
making his cinematic debut
and Spider-Man finally brought
into the Marvel universe.
Elsewhere theX-Men
franchise expanded,
with two groundbreaking movies
aimed at an adult audience.
Deadpool blended extreme
violence with acerbic comedy
and became a
global sensation,
while Logan was Hugh Jackman's
swansong asWolverine,
the somber closing chapter
for the character
that had launched
his career.
Having dominated popular
culture for over a decade,
in the wake of
these films,
comic book adaptations still
offered new opportunities
for both the studios
and cinemagoers.
And this was nowhere
more apparent
than in
two revolutionary films
released by DC and Marvel
within a 12-month period.
Wonder Woman finally gave
this 75-year old character
a film of her own,
with Patty Jenkins
the first ever woman
to helm an American studio
superhero movie.
Marvel's Black Panther,
on the other hand,
gave Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's
landmark African superhero
a historic solo vehicle.
Studio execs
in the past would have said,
"We can't do a female led movie
because it won't sell.
We can't do a movie led
by a person of color,
or people of color
being the predominant cast
because it won't sell.
Well, you're wrong.
People love Wonder Woman.
You don't have to be
a girl to love Wonder Woman.
Everybody loves
Wonder Woman.
I think it's taken so long
to get Wonder Woman
to the big screen,
because everyone was afraid
to do a female superhero movie
and you hold up films like
Catwoman and Elektra
and say,
"Oh, well, that's what...
'cause women
can't be superheroes."
Well, no, they have to be
in good movies.
I know when Gal
Gadot was cast
people were
a little concerned.
"Oh, well, she doesn't
look this way."
Screw that.
She was fantastic.
It was
extremely important
and extremely significant
as a movie.
It's ridiculous, quite honestly,
that we've had
these universes since,
well, even if we just talk
about MCU and DC it's 2008.
That's ten years that we haven't
got a single female lead.
We have secondary
characters around.
We've got Black Widow
who is amazing
played by Scarlett Johansson,
one of the most famous,
bankable actresses
in the world
and she can't get
her own movie.
This is absolute insanity.
Wonder Woman coming out,
being directed by a woman
having a very strong
supportive cast of women
was a very
significant thing.
DC beat
Marvel to the punch
in terms of getting a female
superhero their first film.
Then obviously Marvel have
come out with Black Panther
and I think it is a hugely
important cultural moment
having this film led by
people of color set in Africa,
and the film does deal
with issues of race head on.
It's not
just that this is led
by a black guy. The cast
is predominantly black.
And that actually is
really groundbreaking.
It's not something
we've seen in that universe.
It's not something we've seen
in any superhero universe
or even in fact in any
massive blockbuster universe.
So it is groundbreaking
and by giving it
to Ryan Coogler,
who is a fantastic director,
who'd made Fruitvale
Station and Creed,
both with Michael
B. Jordan,
and it seems giving him
a fairly free reign
to tell the story
that he wanted to tell,
what actually you have
is a very important,
very political,
really uplifting,
very ground breaking movie
that does still feel like
a Marvel movie.
To use the MCU to be
able to talk about issues
that we probably wouldn't see
in the multiplexes is amazing.
As the enormity
of Black Panther's
cultural significance
and commercial success
has proven,
superheroes remain
not only popular
but hugely influential.
With global audiences still
being introduced to characters
who have existed in the comics
world for half a century,
the wealth of heroes
and stories
yet to make the transition
from the page to the screen
suggests that
this popularity will endure.
And although the prominence
of these icons
is at its highest point
since their inception,
the comic book itself
has retained
its specialist reputation.
Never returning to
its sales peak of the 1990s,
as the print media
becomes less relevant
in our modern age,
the artform that launched
this global phenomenon
remains largely ignored.
As far as
how comics were regarded
I don't think they were
regarded any different.
You either like them
or you don't like them.
A lot of people
just don't like comics.
And there's thankfully people
who do like them a whole lot.
For me, the key to it
is going to New York,
San Diego, wherever,
and having people
stand in line
for three or four hours
and come up and say
I read this book.
This book is cool.
These characters are cool.
This book was important to me.
It helped me through
a period of my life.
I thought this
book was cool.
I've given it to my kids.
We think it's cool too.
Somehow or other,
somehow we did
something right.