The last ten years have been filled with huge successes and tremendous learning curves. One thing this decade’s audience loves to do is speculate. Let’s do that for a bit. We’ve seen where we’ve been, now let’s think about where we might go. The following list is our top 10 predictions for the decade ahead…
10. Giant-Size X-Men
Wasn’t X-Men First Class fun? Didn’t it take you back to the feel of what the X-Men movies were capable of in X2? Fox has an interesting situation on their hands, the X-Men franchise has spun off with solo films and now a whole new prequel team, all the while the core franchise can absolutely continue. X-Men: The Last Stand wasn’t as bad as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Hugh Jackman and the producers aren’t skipping a beat with making The Wolverine, looking to make a much better movie than the previous solo Logan movie. The franchise is strong enough to weather a few stinkers, the characters and actors are all superb. All it takes is time spent on the script and include a capable director, the two times Fox didn’t do those VERY SIMPLE things, they ended up with two atrocious movies. First Class didn’t do as well as perhaps intended, but it still was very strong at the box office and very well received by audiences. X-Men isn’t broken, it just needs a little jolt. I think a film that bounces back between the end of the both eras would be fantastic and a great way to showcase all the actors; let’s face it, James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen, bouncing back and forth in a film that is a sequel to every X-film before it? Hell yeah.
9. Rise of the Marvel Brain Trust
With the production of Iron Man, Marvel looked to their own think tank of comic creators to sit with the filmmakers and hash out the stories, punch holes in the plot, basically act as Hollywood’s greatest spotters while the directors were lifting the weights. The ideas from the “brain trust’s” respective comic stories have offered more than just great plots and action set pieces, they created a tone in the books that resonate insanely well on-screen. With Marvel Comic’s creators such as Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Joe Quesada, Mark Millar, Tom Breevort and others producing such quality work, Marvel Studios saw that they already have storytellers with stories that could translate just as well in a movie. The people who work so hard on actually creating the universe got to play in the movie sandbox and the success of it is proved in the popularity of Iron Man and the other subsequent Marvel Studios movies.
I wholeheartedly predict that within the next decade, 2 or 3 people from this brain trust will be handed the keys by Disney/Marvel to produce their own movie, whatever it might be. A situation might be that, in one of these secret brain trust meetings, an idea or story is so good and so personal to one of the creators, a Marvel exec like Kevin Feige may just throw his hands up and say, “Well,, why don’t you just do it?”
8. Wonder Woman
I’m going to play backseat executive for just a second: if I were a head of Warner Brothers, I would do everything in my power to get Joss Whedon back on Wonder Woman, in any capacity. Hot off The Avengers, it’s time to make nice and get back to the project he’s worked so hard on over the decade. If he doesn’t direct, his input would still be valuable. Whedon aside, it is simply time for Wonder Woman. The Wonder Woman mythos is perhaps one of the most convoluted and contradictory superhero sagas of all time, one of the challenges I feel filmmakers have had with the character is they can’t figure out just what to do and how to tell the story to a general audience. I also think it’s really important that the long overdue, great superHEROINE film be made. There have certainly been great female supporting cast members in the movies, but even if a lady gets to headline on the poster (Pepper Potts, Invisible Woman, TDKR’s Catwoman) they are overshadowed and have to share the poster with the boys. In the last ten years, we only got Catwoman and Elektra. This cannot stand.
7. Man of Steel makes or breaks DC
In the DC movie world, Superman is #2. After all the Bat-greatness bestowed on film in the last 10 years, Superman got the shaft with the clunky Superman Returns. Without Harry Potter movies regularly coming out and with Christopher Nolan’s Batman series about to conclude, Warner Bros. sought out their resident comic adapters: Nolan, David S. Goyer, and Zack Snyder, to “fix” the Man of Steel and revitalize his place in the box office. Man of Steel is currently in production, and looks to be the anti-Superman Returns. Whereas Bryan Singer’s Returns was thoughtful and introspective, with action set pieces revolving around Superman’s strength and moral resolve, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel looks to promise Superman knocking over buildings on bad guys with his boner and smashing alien ships to pieces with his fists. Let’s face it, knowing Snyder’s previous movies, that assessment is probably only slightly exaggerated. However, a tougher Superman is more in line with his earlier, pre-WWII stories where the character was much more cynical and rougher with his adversaries. Nolan’s input could steady Snyder and prevent him from dipping into his less savory habits. If it doesn’t pay off, expect WB to seriously reconfigure the very fiber of DC Comics.
6. Justice League
If Man of Steel works, WB has a potential blueprint to build from, something akin to what Marvel did with Iron Man. WB previously tried it with Green Lantern to no avail but here’s a second chance and it’s with the granddaddy of them all at the helm, Superman, as it should be. My prediction is that they won’t go into say, a Flash or Martian Manhunter movie right away, they can introduce them in Man of Steel sequels. Perhaps by film 5 enough characters will have debuted and the Justice League can be formed!
5. Meet Miles Morales
2012 will see the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, a remake of a film from 2002. Am I joking? I don’t know myself. Sony Pictures is billing it as “The Untold Story”, and that it’s a re-imagining, or reboot, or… whatever they want to tell us they think it is. My question is, even if the casting is great, the action good, and the story is interesting, is it really time to go back to the well of the Peter Parker origin again? Yes, the birth of Spider-Man is now a legendary contemporary fable, but the unexpected is far more interesting, especially with these types of movies. Marvel Comics did just that in 2011 with Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man. In Bendis’ story a young half-Black, half-Hispanic boy named Miles Morales is also bitten by an altered Spider but through very different circumstances and develops spider-like abilities (including some Peter never had). After witnessing Peter killed by the Green Goblin, he’s guilt ridden because he had the ability to help, but didn’t. As a tribute to his beloved fallen hero, he decided to take up the mantle as the new Spider-Man. While the origin of Miles becoming Spidey is very traditional, the character and the situations in the comic are very fresh and modern and the stories are told in a very sophisticated way, avoiding many pitfalls commonly associated with new identities under the mask. This is a Spider-Man for right now. A side prediction with this is that is Disney/Marvel obtains the rights to produce their own Spider-films, Miles will get the spotlight immediately.
4. Batman Begins again by 2016
Now that Christopher Nolan is finished with his billion-dollar Bat-saga, Warner Bros. is understandably hungry for more Caped Crusader films. It can absolutely be done, and should be done. Sure, millions of people love Nolan’s take on Batman and may not want to see anything other than his interpretation; on the other hand, it’s a fabulous opportunity for the studio and especially for the potential filmmaker to prove that yet another take on Batman is totally valid and further deepens the legacy. For example, during the Nolan-era of Bat-films there were three separate animated series produced, as well as many animated direct-to-DVD films, all with vastly different approaches to the character and his universe. Batman is many different things, but there is only one universal truth on this subject: Batman is Awesome.
3. 2012 was the peak
During the decade, almost all film studios had a comic property they wanted exploit, they all wanted their own Spider-Man. Just about every studio also made good on that exploitation, and tons of comic characters populated the multiplex. In the end, some thrived, some died.
Do you think Lionsgate is going to make a sequel to The Spirit? No.
Are we ever going back to the well of Bulletproof Monk or Dylan Dog? No.
Will Cowboys and Aliens fight again? No.
What’s also interesting is now things are beginning to fall off. Studios are making fewer announcements and commitments to comic book based adventure films, and sure there’s still the odd projects like the ever-alleged Sin City sequel and a new Judge Dredd. Time Warner owns all of DC Comics’ properties, and are continuing their attempts to make a Batman-like smash hit that isn’t Batman. Marvel broke their heroes off to various studios, but with their continued independent success that led to being bought by Disney, watch the heroes trickle back to them one-by-one. All it takes is a few flops on Sony’s or Fox’s part, and if you were The Walt Disney Company, don’t tell me you wouldn’t fight every day to get fucking Spider-Man. The shift is happening right now and control is moving to a more singular ownership of these franchises. The result of that would take away the spice of variety and the thrill of watching the various studios try to out-do each other with their respective hero movies. The thrill of the last decade will have an equal and opposite reaction in the next, the implosion these types of movies. The Avengers is perhaps the start of a new decade of hero films, The Mega-Franchise: multiple independent franchises in a shared universe controlled by one studio. Will our heroes fail spectacularly? Tune in next decade, same Bat-time, same Bat-theater.
2. Marvel/Pixar Team Up!
For many of us, it was the first thing out of our mouths when Disney bought Marvel. Two grand houses of ideas coming together and hopefully making a baby; a baby to rock our movie-loving faces off. We’ve all seen what Pixar ingenuity can accomplish in the superhero genre with The Incredibles, but imagine them actually having the right to produce say, The Sub-Mariner, or any other Marvel property. As a fan, I would love to see Disney right some wrongs Marvel has made in regards to the estate of Jack Kirby. The work Kirby did for Marvel and the comics medium, I feel, could be very relative to what John Lasseter and the Pixar guys did for Disney and computer animation. Both are men who have pushed their craft and medium forward in such a unique and undeniably personal way while always making storytelling trump over all. To see the later Kirby Marvel work in Pixar’s hands would be terrific. Kirby’s epic scale, where he can create the biggest beings and concepts that makes your jaw drop because he does it on such a tiny comic page, combined with Pixar’s filmmaking prowess, hell, I’ll even take a Devil Dinosaur movie.
1. Goodbye Comics
Time to face facts. Though Marvel and DC brass regularly tell fans that they will never turn their back on print comics, that’s not quite the whole truth. While I believe collected editions of comics will always survive, the “floppy,” weekly comic from the big 2 publishers (Marvel and DC) will cease within 10 years, and that’s being generous. Beginners and top creators are more and more often taking to online comics they publish themselves, and when enough material (and interest) is generated, a $20 or so book is created for store shelves.
Since the iPad debuted, both publishers quickly started making brand new comics available on their new apps on the same day the print would be available in stores. Both publishers started with only a handful of titles, but now Marvel has most of their catalogue and DC is currently offering all of their newly relaunched superhero titles “day-and-date.” Additionally, the publishers are beginning to roll out more exclusive comics and stories only on the digital apps, that may or may not be released in a print form. Both are also attempting to lure the digital-curious by including editions of their comics which include a code printed inside to redeem a download from the respective publisher’s app store. This is how it starts and they finally seem to have a sensical plan and device to make the transition possible. And of course, all this is hypothetical, Disney and/or Time Warner can pull the plug on their print comics at any time, it only takes a couple more failed projects to make it happen.
If you haven’t already, check out the rest of the Earth’s Mightiest Decade series.