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Comic book culture moves from basements to the big screen

There’s new light for comic books in silver screen and television adaptations.

The+%22All-New%2C+All-Different+Avengers%22+from+Marvel+introduces+three+new+teenage+members%3A+Ms.+Marvel%2C+bottom+row%2C+from+left%2C+Miles+Morales+%28Spider-Man+from+a+parallel+world%29+and+the+new+Nova.+
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The "All-New, All-Different Avengers" from Marvel introduces three new teenage members: Ms. Marvel, bottom row, from left, Miles Morales (Spider-Man from a parallel world) and the new Nova.

Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment/TNS

Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment/TNS

The "All-New, All-Different Avengers" from Marvel introduces three new teenage members: Ms. Marvel, bottom row, from left, Miles Morales (Spider-Man from a parallel world) and the new Nova.

Nicca Panggat, News Editor

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After decades of shameful adaptations and cringe-worthy special effects, the next six years are gonna be like a wet dream for most comic book fans.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” this summer’s highly anticipated comic book feature film, is only the beginning.

Together, Marvel and DC have almost 40 different films in the making, a number that doesn’t include the comic book adaptations from smaller, more indie publishers according to film announcements made by the publishers.

It also doesn’t account for the superhero-based television shows stemming from their enterprises, which are likewise flourishing. DC’s “Arrow” and “The Flash” both consistently received rave reviews despite being outside the CW’s target demographic. Marvel’s “Daredevil” brought in an insane number of binge-watchers via Netflix. It also hit the internet as the second most pirated show of the week on its premiere, according to Entertainment Weekly

Fans owe it all to Robert Downey Jr., the real-life Tony Stark who pushed Iron Man into the spotlight and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the top of the food chain.

Before his stellar 2008 portrayal of the genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist, a trip into the past only reveals crash-and-burn adaptations of superheroes. Here’s looking at you Joel Schumacher.

Schumacher’s 1997 film “Batman & Robin” practically killed the Batman series with a cheap mouthpiece and one of the corniest lines in film history—“I hate to disappoint you, but my rubber lips are immune to your charm.”

It’s interesting to speculate how the comic book film boom will play out in today’s society. The challenge for film adaptations settling into their own is that the medium is not as timeless as the books.

There, heroes can die and be reborn or pass the mantle onto a worthy protégé. In film, fans are heavily focused on what goes on behind the scenes, already speculating the end of Chris Evans’ run as Captain America, Sebastian Stan’s takeover and Robert Downey Jr.’s own exit as Iron Man.

There’s also something to be said for how the films and shows deviate from original plotlines.

Marvel’s titular villain in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has nothing to do with the comic book character’s own origin story and powers, according to director Joss Whedon. Likewise, Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” was only a villain by name and a sad puppet for Talia al Ghul in the film reality. TV show “Gotham” was a hot mess that changed the history behind almost every Batman villain they portrayed and introduced Bruce Wayne to Selina Kyle as kids.

The success of these films and shows are important to comic books in every way. Regardless of what comic book purists have to say on the matter, the world thrives on the success of these stories crossing mediums.

Mainstream or not, this is how society sees the subculture. The most-enjoyed adaptations tend to be the ones that stick closest to their gloss-cover cousins, like “Iron Man” and “The Flash.”

Comic books in the past were a hidden gem enjoyed mainly by kids and the rare adult who could never give them up. Now, the storylines and characters are all dependent on which ones sail smoothest to high ratings.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a prime example. Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax all live on due to their miraculous Hollywood gains. No one but Marvel fans knew the Loser Crew before they took to the screen.

The possibilities are almost endless. None of the cast actors for DC’s upcoming Justice League series look anything like their counterparts. For the first time, Wonder Woman will star in her very own 2017 release. Aquaman makes his first splash on-screen the year after that, and, despite all the fish jokes, his stellar New 52 run has most DC fans geeking out.

Comic book films have come a long way from Tobey Maguire’s cringe-worthy dance scene in Spider-Man 3 – and yet, somehow not far enough. Marvel and Sony’s money-hungry plans for a third Spider-Man reboot and an animated film are a complete turn off.

Still, it’s almost a second golden age for most comic book fans now.

Twenty years ago, no collector would have ever dreamed of seeing his or her favorite superheroes take the silver screen. Now, it’s a question of finding the free time and funds to support the lifestyle.

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