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The Marvel/DC comic book movies of 2003 (1 Viewer)


Senior HTF Member
Jul 19, 2002
i was kind of thinking about this when i was watching TMR today.
To me, TMR is, for all its intricate puzzles and allusions, still primarily a comic book movie.
action, in this case mostly wire-fu, punctuates the narrative, in sometimes (maybe most times) a clunky rhythmic fashion.
much like a grade B Shaolin Temple flick.

but then, when you compare and contrast it w
X2 (and probably the Hulk), a movie everyone will
readily acknowledge is comic book material, it seems to
have a lot more ...density.

and then thats when i realized, that although both these franchises are structurally, or innately comic books on screen,
one is literally a Marvel and one is a DC( more like Vertigo) .
whereas DC kinda splintered off a sister imprint to take on more challenging themed work, Marvels bread & butter , editorially speaking, is still melodrama/ soap opera.

not that Marvel can't insert broader Themes into the material, just that its not the point.
making a big generalization here- the Marvel stuff is character based, were as the Vertigo (AOL/Time-Warner/DC)stuff is theme based.

to take it back 30 years, when i first became a comic book fan, The Marvel stuff i never much cared for since it was much denser material.
stories were not tidily wrapped up in 20 pages the way they still were in the DC books, and you had copious footnoting by the editor which keyed you in on the past issue(s) that ___ being discussed first took place.
i always thought the Marvel stuff appealed to an older, cooler, crowd.
but as a little kid, i was quite happy with the simple pleasures of a self contained Superman where Lois turns into a monster and back to normal by page 22.

it's amusing as an adult to see how much 30 years later, the dynamics of the companies products have shifted.
Marvel still has allegiance to the soap opera/melodrama as the foundations of its films.
and they are more or less simpler stories, whereas the DC stuff is now for the older kids, the 'cooler' crowd , that loves the footnotes sprinkled throughout ( "check out out issue #24 of Amazing Biblical Prophecy, O Neo fan!-ye editors, Larry & Andy).

thats kind of cool, and in a way, i envy the density of the material that DC is giving its fans. I would love to see the Marvel material bite off thematically bigger stuff,
but not if it comes at the expense of the characters.
'Cause thats the only reason in the end that i still feel distanced by the DC movie-comics.
after all the puzzle speculating & reference researching, i really just don't care about the characters and their dilemmas in the matrix.
it doesn't help when Keanu Reeves actually gives one of the better performances in the film.

i'm still very much like i was as a little kid, i guess.
i prefer the 'lower order' melodrama and more obvious thematic qualities of the Marvel stuff...cause when it comes down to it, i'd just rather spend time with these characters.

what is super sweet though, is that the multi-plex in 2003 is just like that old drugstore spinner rack, and both kinds of comic book fans can find something good to groove on.
nothing wrong with that :)

Brook K

Senior HTF Member
Feb 22, 2000
We'll see. Having a darker, denser story is no guarantee of success. From Hell was average, League of Extraordinary Gentleman looks like they just turned it into a basic action flick, and I fear the upcoming Hellblazer movie will be terrible.

Rob Bartlett

Stunt Coordinator
Mar 1, 2003
Paul, I wouldn't call it a "reversal". In the 1960's, Marvel redefined the comic

Vertigo isnt "superhero". They're ghost stories with a modern alternative flavoring. If The Matrix was a comic book first, it likely would be seen under the Helix line.

I think DC's Vertigo stuff at times blows away the Marvel superhero titles, but their "mainstream" stuff is, and almost always has been, severely cardboard. Even attempts at depth amongst the capes-and-tights books come across as awkwarder. Most of the goodwill generated has come from waxing nostalgic and the rather excellent cartoons.

Spider-Man didn't present a very fascinating theme, but really, it was about a teenager getting bitten by a spider. The appeal of the series is kind of watching Parker's life go down the shitter, as well as the supporting cast. It's not really "thematic", it's joust something to give the story background.

You see, the thing is, a premise gets really old really fast. It works very well for cinema, which even with trilogies, the story won't be much longer then nine hours. A comic book series with an adventurer as its star, can go on for decades. Spider-Man and the X-Men have seen numerous Renaissance's over their near half-century existence. Preacher and Sandman have seen the lower side of a decade each.

The Matrix is hard sci-fi. It has a superhero flair, but so do Star Wars and even Lord of the Rings . Hell, Charlie's Angels seem to attempt stunts the Daredevil cast couldn't accomplish. It certainly possesses traits kids used to read about in comic books, but so do most franchises. "Inspired by" doesn't make it part of the genre/sub-genre. It it did, that would make Bring It On a comic book movie too, as it certainly resembles Archie comics.

Most of the Marvel movies haven't been as good as fans have made them out to be (Although I do think the X-Men films are terrific), but I would take them over just about any action movie today, LOTR and Matrix excepted.

Anyways, The Matrix is not a DC comic. Just because Time Warner owns it means nothing. Marvel published the Star Wars comic from its inception, that doesn't mean Star Wars was Marvel's answer to the movies in order to counter Superman . It seems the man in charge of the DC comics to films is Jon Peters, who through a combination of hubris, incompetence, and short-sightedness seems unable to bring any of its titles to the forefront. There attempts at moviemaking have been unquestionable disasters for the last ten years, and in my opinion, have been that way for much longer.

And for the record, X2's reviews have been stronger then Reloaded's . (Harry Knowles aside). Does this have anything to do with being "deep"?

In short, even with the opinion the Matrices are superior to marvel's cinematic efforts, it's only one franchise, and really shouldn't be considered a factor in a decades old rivalry between publishers.

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