I am a middle aged geek. My comic/sci-fi fantom were forged in the 80s and the 90s and in that time, I have seen a lot of genre fiction make it into our living rooms and into our multiplexes. I have seen the lean pickings, the occasional gems and gob-smackingly bizarre. (The Generation -X tv pilot) I was there when our options were limited and have arrived where those options seem unlimited and some days I wonder, have we overdone it?
I was born when Punk and the Muppets arrived and remember how sparse the amount of good quality sci-fi/generally geeky content was. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s we had very little to show for that, I mean we had re-runs of some stuff from the 60’s and some homegrown quality in Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, but the majority of this was relegated to saturday morning fare and the occasional Star Wars/Star Trek film at the cinema.
In the 90’s this seemed to improve, we got a lot of comics/sci-fi related movies that raised the bar for those of my persuasion. We got a Batman film every 2-3 years and there were several comic-related and other sci-fi movies that were of high quality, but those were few and far between.
But in 1998, that changed. New Line Cinema released Blade. It was a Wesley Snipes vehicle based on a supporting character from the 1970’s horror comic Tomb of Dracula. Blade is a half-human/half-vampire who uses bladed weapons to kill vampires as he searches for Deacon Frost, the vampire that fed on his mother, just before he was born. Every other element of his origin and milieu else was retooled and we got a unique looking film that re-launched the idea of a well made comic-book movie. That led direct to a couple of other movies that changed the game forever. The first was 2000’s X-Men, adapted the then-sales-juggernaut comic to the big screen. This was quite a big success and underlined the idea that a comic related movie could make a lot of money. Then in 2002 came Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. This was a comic that was quite faithful to it’s four-colour roots and gave a relatively comics accurate costume and with Tobey Maguire, the most Peter Parker-like depiction on screen to date.
Then the floodgates opened. Within a few years we got another X-Men, another Spider-Man, Hellboy, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four and a year or so after that, Batman and Superman both returned to the box office to no small amount of acclaim.
Since 2008 that has increased exponentially with the introduction of shared cinematic universes. Sony have one, Fox had one with Marvel Characters. Marvel Studios (most of this time owned by Disney) had the ground-breaking Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC tried to the same, didn’t work like, but they are still trying. Even Universal tried something like it with a relaunch of their classic monster IPs that stalled with the Mummy. So we went from getting a comic related movie every few years that may or may not be faithful or good, to getting one every other month that links to a dozen other movies.
Within 14 years, we went from a half decent attempt at a marvel hero on screen to at one point a 20+ series of movies that stand up as a full saga. The second iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the second iteration of a 3rd tier title got their own movie. People who never read a comic in their life know who Rocket Racoon and Drax the Destroyer are, it’s madness.
Still, who goes to the movies every week? It’s a threat to the scale of your DVD/Blu-Ray collection, but still manageable. But what about the idiot box?
TV was in the same boat, we had a Star Trek series, the occasional 90’s gem, but from the 2000’s that seem to explode as well. Smallville debuted in 2001 and we had tonnes come in after that. Heroes, Birds of Prey, Mutant-X (a poundland version of X-Men) Blade and a good few more. Then in 2012, it exploded again. DC brought us Arrow, this spun off into new shows including (but not limited to) The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Batwoman and Black Lightning. Image brought out an adaptation of The Walking Dead, which continues to find an audience after becoming a ratings winner early on. Marvel didn’t do so well, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. struggled to find it’s identity, but still managed last 6 or 7 seasons and Agent Carter was very well received critically. When streaming became a thing, it exploded further. Netflix made a deal with Marvel to adapt their street-level heroes and we got Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and more recent creation Jessica Jones. We got 13 episodes of each per season and each got at least 2 seasons, then there was the team up series, the Defenders. Fox still owning the X-characters brought of Legion and the Gifted shortly after one another, putting more and more out there.
Then Disney came back in with their acquisition of the Star Wars IP. We got 5 movies, 2 more animated shows and then no less than 3 TV mini-series. Marvel have released at least 6 mini-series in the last two years.
It’s a lot right? It’s hard to keep up and I haven’t mentioned the 4 ongoing Star Trek shows, the DC streaming shows, the plethora of animated shows or the Walking Dead spin-offs. Now that is just current stuff, with the right mix of streaming services, you can watch almost everything that has been on before as well. Sometimes it feels like its too much.
It does come across as poor little geek boy. Complaining that there’s too much to enjoy. It’s a nice problem to have when you really think of it. There’s also the point that your own mileage can vary. What’s too much for me, might be just fine for some, or not enough for another. Maybe I am fatigued and just wanted to take a minute from the onslaught of new multi-media content.
Still, it’s been a pretty interesting 25 years for the geeky among us and who knows what’s next. Who knows what obscure and random characters will now get a TV series, or film or something. It seems that the only place I am not going to see my favourite comic characters in new content is the comics themselves.
I generally don’t know what I was getting at with this.