Convergence as I had commented in Kavity’s post, is quickly becoming my favorite word. Before anyone starts thinking that this is related to telecom and devices, I shall banish that notion as I am referring to the increasing convergence between the storytelling in the movie and TV space to that of Comics.
Comics is a huge passion with me and comics as a medium is becoming increasingly serious work because the publishers have realized that the audience for comics increasingly consists of young people above 18 and not kids. This had led to increasingly complicated story lines, channel zapping story telling, multiple plots and adult themes being incorporated. The comics of these days definitely do not cater to kids and parents would horrified to check the content of some of the comics that come out for graphics, language and the topics addressed in the comics.
Hollywood and the comic industry have shared a bond for some ages making some huge commercial blockbusters like Superman (The Christopher Reeves one with the immortal theme song by John Williams), Batman (Jack Nicholson as the Joker), the Spiderman Trilogy as well as the X-Men trilogy. Though these movies were huge hits with the fans, they suffered from both the critics side as well as from the fans. The critics would claim that it was a genre in itself and thus a refusal to slot it into a serious Hollywood fare. Disgruntlement was high among the fans as there was a feeling that the story-lines did not adhere to continuity as well did not provide sufficient justification on why a super-hero chose to be one. The movies failed to strike a chord with the fans in terms with both the storyline as well as the characterization. The people closest to the comic characters, the story writers had a limited or no say with the movies and this was a major reason why the movies though money spinners weren’t considered seriously.
Looking back at 2008, the biggest blockbuster of the year was The Dark Knight. Iron Man was one of the sleeper hits of the year. But the real appeal of the films lay in their story-lines and strong characterization. To this list, I add Batman Begins, the movie that started it all. The reason these movies satisfy fanboys while delivering strong box office performances and strong story-lines is the involvement of the people close to the comic industry in the movie.
The story for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight was written by David S Goyer who is a comic book writer with several comics under his belt. The stories for both these movies were rooted in reality without changing the underlying mythos of Batman. Christopher Nolan was of the view that for super-hero movies to succeed, they should be grounded in realities and make sense with the audience while satisfying fan expectation. (Phew what an easy task)
Iron Man is a much more interesting case. Marvel was tired of companies like Sony raking in the moolah from Marvel’s characters like Spiderman, X-men etc and hence started Marvel studios to bankroll the movie. Iron Man was the first movie and had extensive involvement of Marvel heavy hitters like Mark Millar, Matt Fraction, Joe Quesada among others. This enabled them to develop a story that would capture the essentials of Iron Man while positioning it for the modern audience. Being part of their own production, enabled Marvel to incorporate continuity elements into the movie. Iron Man had repeat audiences because of the continuity elements especially the after credit scene featuring Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury and the hint towards the Avengers movie. Marvel Studios’ next movie was The Incredible Hulk which thought not a big hit further incorporated continuity elements including a cameo by Iron Man (as Tony Stark)
Smallville into its 8th season, had a particularly brilliant episode called “Legion”. This was written by Geoff Johns, the man behind the 2007 comic sleeper hit, Sinestro Corps. This episode included a whole lot of mythos of the Legion of the 31st century as well as elements from Geoff’s recent run on Action comics.
These are definite pointers on why convergence should be practiced by the Movie and TV industry with respect to the comic industry. Lost has noticeably improved ever since Brian Vaughan has joined the writing team. Sin City used the same story board that Frank Miller had used for creating his comic. Definite proof I say!!!