Have the superhero movies diminished comic book readership?

Since the success of the early Marvel X-Men, Thor and Iron Man films a new wave of fans have discovered the Marvel Universe, naturally.

They’ve come to know Professor Xavier through the authoritarian voice of Patrick Stewart. Wolverine and charismatic Hugh Jackman and handsome Chris Evans skillfully brought Captain American boldly and ethically to life. Who is Iron Man but Robert Downey Jr.?

Spiderman had come before these others with Toby McGuire giving what I thought was a genuine vulnerable quality to Peter Parker. His films arrived almost like the comic book/film industry version of Lewis and Clark. Sent out into the wilderness to see what could be discovered, and what would make it a target.


And yes, we’d had Superman with Christopher Reeves, and two other actors (Christopher being my favorite, no disrespect to the others). And there’d been two Fantastic Four films … No comment.

BLACK LIGHTNING First-Look Image_58dc239fd02000.11195132Even more people have discovered Daredevil (more through the TV series than the 2003 movie), Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage on Netflix. The parade continued with Smallville, Arrow, Legends, Agents of Shield, Flash (1980s version and now), Supergirl, and soon to come, Black Lightening.

But the major money was and is being disseminated to and reaped from the silver screen. The first Avengers movie made over 4 billion dollars. One film … one of 2 thus far.

The DC Universe had been firmly established for over 70 years, and the world of Marvel for over 40 years. And now their creations were being consumed ravenously in one of the most expensive media arenas in the world … film.


But just because the audiences were flocking to the theaters to get their super fix didn’t mean they were equally voracious for the comics. In facts many new hero fans didn’t even know these characters had comic book history. Some others thought the books came later as if Batman and Detective Comics were merely new merchandising gimmicks because of a successful film.

I’ll add here my opinion that many of the early superhero films over the past 30 years, did much to either stimulate or mutilate characters’ origins, codes of conduct, costumes, and even powers or abilities. Often it appeared that the filmmakers didn’t trust or respect the source material.

Now I’m not a purist. I simply mean respect as in bring more quality not buffoonery to a project, or why do it.

Many adults and kids only know the origins of these characters via the film version which is often … altered to accommodate the medium … or some filmmaker’s concept of “making it better.”


So I ask the question are these films a blessing or a curse (though for many a lucrative one).

What do you say?      Yes _____          No _____

Why? _________________________________________________

Do you read their comic book series?         Yes _____          No _____

Have you ever read them?   Yes _____          No _____

And is the audio-visual fix weakening literacy efforts and benfits?

Yes _____          No _____

Or can these films be an additional tool for those attempting to improve reading and language skills.

(*Please leave your reply or response in the comments area below.)

One other question comes to mind. Should this film fever eventually dwindle and be replaced by the next media fad … What will this mean for all the changes that have occurred in response?

That would include not only the money being made for those owning the licenses, but also the careers of the performers, and the publishing houses consumed into their corporate hosts (like so much wriggling nourishment) to become IP departments.

What happens then?

I’d truly like to hear your thoughts.

Adios for now.



About SimmonsHereAndNow

Alex Simmons is an award-winning freelance writer, comic book creator, playwright, teaching artist, and educational consultant. He’s written for Disney Books, Penguin Press, Simon and Schuster, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. Simmons is the creator of the acclaimed adventure comic book series, Blackjack. As a teaching artist Simmons has created and taught creative arts workshops for students and educators in the US, Europe, West Indies, and Africa. Simmons has served on panels, and delivered lectures on children’s entertainment mediums, as well as empowering young people through the arts. Simmons founded the annual family event, Kids Comic Con, as well as three comic arts exhibits, which have traveled abroad. He is currently developing a comics and creative arts program for children all over the world. For over 30 years, Simmons has been a member of arts and education boards for the New York State Alliance for Arts Education, the Department for Cultural Affairs, and is on the State Department Speakers Program. As a teaching artist Simmons has been paid to have fun working with youth through the Apollo Theater In-School Arts Program, Henkel McCoy, Upward Bound, New York Council on the Arts, Children’s Art Carnival, Wings Academy, and NYU Creative Arts Team, to name a few. He has been a panelist at many literacy and arts events, and he has been a guest speaker at numerous colleges and educational institutions here and abroad.
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