Dec 6, 2011

It is All in the Name

Popular media has always been a game of franchises and 'known-quantities' when it comes to business speak, but comic book films have painted themselves into an embarrassing corner that threatens to destroy this burgeoning source of exposure for the oft misunderstood properties of comic book characters.

While most comic book film properties take liberties with the story to better suit the medium of film, such as Phoenix from X-Men 3 being an innate power of Jean Grey instead of a cosmic force that chose to inhabit Jean Grey or the organic web-shooters of Spider-Man, there is one glaring factor that will always put comic book films, with the exception of a few stand-outs like the Nolan Batman franchise, and that is the naming scheme of these films.

These naming practices puts comic book based films into quite the predicament of having to 're-boot' the franchises constantly, which means we get to see origin stories all over again in three film increments, despite most super heroes having nearly fifty years of stories to fall back on. Most films franchise can't withstand having more than three films in the same continuity. Look at Star Wars. Six films and a successful television show and the fan base is extremely split. Numbered sequels need to go, otherwise we will be stuck in the realms of re-booting franchises too damn often. Instead of getting Iron Man 2 I would have much rather have had Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle or Iron Man: Armor Wars, instead of probably getting Iron Man 3 and then a re-boot under a new moniker, probably The Invincible Iron Man.

I think these films should adapt a subtitle style of naming, which would allow a greater since of continuity from story to story. What about James Bond? There have been five people who have performed the role through various films and that is one of the longest running film franchises ever. Yet you don't have James Bond 2, James Bond 3, etc. You get strong names for each film, plus you don't have to have a cobbled together origin story that movie going audiences are already familiar with because they saw it three films ago. Recasting your lead doesn't mean you have to restart the story. Comic book movies need to stop being studio cash grabs and start cementing themselves into film with the power of longevity.