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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Analysing Comic Book Film Sequels

So yesterday I watched Spider-man 2 and I said was going to post an article on this very subject. Sorry, I'm late.

I have reviewed 5 film sequels to date and these are what I will be using as my sample materials. They are as follows:
Spiderman/Spider-man 2
Fantastic Four/Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
Iron Man/Iron Man 2
Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
Hell Boy/Hell Boy II The Golden Army

It has been said that superhero films tend to follow a three arch structure of Origin/Attempted Retirement/Evil Twin and to be honest I only know about that from cracked.com but based on what I've seen with the aforementioned films, it's pretty damned correct. In Spider-man 2 Peter plays the trope straight, trying to quit before going back to being a hero. Fantastic Four Rise Of The Silver Surfer has Reed Richards and Susan Storm considering quitting to settle down and have a family. Iron Man 2 has the government trying to make Tony quit being Iron Man, Tony on the verge of death and his friend become an evil twin Iron Man. The Dark Knight has Batman preparing to give up the cowl now that the white knight Harvey Dent is making such an impact. Hell Boy II The Golden Army just subverts it all to hell by having the story be more of a filler episode about a temporary love interest for the quirky sidekick.

Spiderman was really the first of the modern trilogies so it was his series that played the tropes straightest. Peter Parker is a loser in life, develops a super power, learns that with great power comes great responsibility and now he can get it on with his secret crush because he's not himself. In the sequel everyone but his boss finds out who he is by the end but now his best friend doesn't just want to kill Spiderman but him 2.

Fantastic Four ignores the tropes, having the characters have press created superhero identities but be generally famous.

Iron Man loves to play with the tropes because Tony Stark is basically Bruce Wayne, only he created the Iron Man suit, well firstly because he had to so he could escape some terrorists but mainly just because he could. The Superheroing was accidental, less 'I shall become the criminals worst nightmare' and more 'Hey this is cool and I'm sorry but did you just use my tech to hurt innocents because I really don't like that and now I can kick your arse.' The real difference though beyond 'I'm a hero because it's cool' is at the end of the first film when Tony Stark does admit that he is Iron Man, dealing with the consequences of that in the second film.

Batman in Christopher Nolan's trilogy is the deconstruction of the trope to an extent. Batman exists to police the unpoliceable area so when Harvey Dent turns up, of course Batman thinks he can step down. Only because this is a deconstruction, the same thing that means Batman could retire is the very reason he never can because what does a balanced system do when the other side gets it's shit together? It summons bigger fish, namely the lunatic sadist's lunatic sadist The Joker.

Hell Boy can't do the give up the cowl thing because he is the cowl. There is no secret identity, just his and it is 'supposed' to be secret while not really being very secret at all, although they do leave the BPRD at the end of the second film.