Comic book movies don't need mainstream characters
Longtime fans of the Deadpool comic book series were rewarded last month as the first standalone Deadpool movie delivered and then some. Despite delays in production and a February release date, the film adaption garnered critical acclaim and broke a number of box-office records, including the largest opening for an R-rated movie in history, according to Forbes.
There was some initial doubt that Deadpool would be the success that it was. First, the character is not really known outside the comic book universe, especially compared to pop-culture stalwarts such as Spider-Man and Batman. Second, with an R rating, Deadpool would not be accessible to younger viewers who make up a solid portion of comic book movie audiences.
What Deadpool showed more than anything is that the appetite for comic book movies is still incredibly strong. You don’t have to look far to see the impact comic books movies are having on the culture.
Netflix continues to expand its programming around Marvel with series such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones drawing rave reviews. Movie studios continue to turn to new characters, such as the Suicide Squad, which we’ll touch on in a second. Gaming companies always serve as a great barometer for popularity as well. Just look at the site GalaCasino, which features games for both mainstream and under-the-radar characters. Sure, you can find Spider-Man, the X-Men, and members of the Avengers on there, but you'll also see superheroes such as Blade, Daredevil, and Elektra. As it just so happens that this same dynamic is occurring right now in movies (and, as mentioned, TV).
While Captain America, Batman, and Superman will get the bulk of attention in 2016, there are a number of comic book-themed movies coming out that will be a little under the radar. But if everything goes right, they could find themselves hitting a Deadpool level of success. Here are some of the ones to look out for.
Gambit – October 7, 2016: Gambit has some Deadpool-level potential for a few reasons. While the character is not widely known, he does have some pop-culture cache thanks to appearing in the X-Men cartoon in the 1990s. Channing Tatum, one of Hollywood’s biggest and most marketable stars, will play the character, so the movie will get every chance to succeed. The character has long been a favorite of comic book fans thanks to Gambit’s cool ability to throw weaponized playing cards and a kicking Cajun accent to boot.
Doctor Strange – November 6, 2016: This movie parallels Gambit in a lot of ways. It has a big-name star—Benedict Cumberbatch will play the lead—and a character with a lot of personality. Doctor Strange is known for being kind of a jerk who becomes a master of the mystic arts after losing his ability to be a surgeon following a car accident.
Suicide Squad – August 5, 2016: If you’ve seen the extended trailer for this movie, you already know how awesome it’s going to be. The folks at iO9 agree. Of all the Suicide Squad characters, only the Joker, and maybe Harley Quinn, are known outside of comic books fans. When the movie hits theaters, though, it will likely be a mega hit as viewers meet characters like Deadshot (played by Will Smith), Enchantress, Killer Croc and El Diablo. The movie has the ability to reach the success of Guardians of the Galaxy.
One thing Deadpool has shown is that the character need not be a household name to do well. At a time when the Fantastic Four flopped, the market seems to be looking more for quality comic book-themed movies whether the characters are already known or not. Will the movies we mentioned reach Deadpool's heights? Who knows, but Hollywood will keep trying as the rewards tend to be huge.
This month Guest Author: Remy Maccioll
comic movies blog