CBR: Looking Ahead to 2010 & 2020

At the beginning of the year, it's always fun to look towards the future. Especially as a news reporter, one wonders what kinds of things folks will be talking and writing about over the next 365 days. We posed this question to our CBR News crew, and then we took it one step further and asked: what are the things fans will be talking about at the end of the next decade?

Our reporters rose to the challenge and came up with a laundry list of goodies that will keep readers' minds busy concerning 2010 and 2020. Our crack news team made up of Tim Callahan, Shaun Manning, Kiel Phegley, Dave Richards, Steve Sunu, George Tramountanas, and Josh Wigler all wrote in with their thoughts. Please join us as we peer into CBR's crystal ball for the big events of next year...and beyond.


"Iron Man 2"

George Tramountanas: I wasn't initially sold on this film.  I mean, Mickey Rourke as a whip-wielding Russian baddie?  That said, the latest trailer gave me the same feeling I had when I first saw Iron Man flying.  Plus, I have faith in the Favreau/Downey team!

Josh Wigler: Totally agreed, George. This whole lead up to "The Avengers" could easily get a little hairy - trying to make the fantastical Thor fit in with the relatively realistic (I use that word lightly) Iron Man universe isn't an enviable task. But if everyone else on the Marvel Studios team can match the quality that Favreau, Downey and the rest of 'em seem to be putting forth, then this should be a fun cinematic ride.

Dave Richards: Because of movies like "Spider-Man 3," which tried to do too much in one film, I'm a tiny bit worried at all the characters in "Iron Man 2" and whether or not they'll have time to do them justice. But the first trailer was pretty awesome and it looks to be another really fun movie.

Kiel Phegley: My worry is that like "Spider-Man 2" they'll try to push the quirky things that worked about the first installment too far and make things come apart at the seams. Though, Downey's been on a killer streak of late, and Favreau certainly is a smart director in working with actors, so I'm looking forward to what they put together.

Steve Sunu: Adding in Justin Hammer and Whiplash as the main villains while also bringing in Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow should be cool. Also, I'm really looking forward to seeing if there are any subtle nods to "Thor" in the end credits.

The "Kick-Ass" Movie

George Tramountanas: I saw clips from this at SDCC this past year, and this is the most excited I've been about a comic book movie in awhile!

Dave Richards: I haven't read any issues of "Kick-Ass," but I have to say the trailer has got me curious. It looks like a fun and funny movie, and I'll definitely pick up the collected edition when it comes out next year.

Tim Callahan: I'll see this on video. Maybe.

Steve Sunu: I'm looking forward to seeing which route this film takes: the "Marvel film route," where the movie only takes the slightest cues from the comics; or the "Sin City"-route, where the movie is a shot-for-shot recreation of the comic. Romita Jr. had some great scenes in "Kick-Ass," and getting to see them recreated live would be super-cool.

George Tramountanas: Based on the kind of filmmaker director Matthew Vaughn ("Layer Cake") has shown himself to be, I expect he's taken the best bits of the comic and put his own spin on it.  Hell, he had to as the film was completed before the comic.  Trust me on this one fellas, "Kick-Ass" will be the movie comic fans will all be talking about at the end of 2010 - even if it doesn't do the box office business of "Iron Man 2."

Kiel Phegley: I don't think it'll be a mega hit, but its success really depends on how well they can sell this idea to the general public (specifically teenage boys). I think comic fans aren't as much of a built-in promotional demographic for this one because most of them know, based on the talent involved and the story, whether or not they're going to see it already.

News from the "Thor" Movie

George Tramountanas: I'm not sure how they're going to make this comic work on the big screen, but the most recent trailer for the "Clash of the Titans" remake has me believing gods can be filmed.  Marvel Films has thus far justified my faith...please don't let me down on this one.

Josh Wigler: I think it's going to depend heavily on how the fantasy and real world elements are blended together. It's not going to be easy. That said, the enthusiasm that Joe Quesada and Brian Bendis keep pouring out online has me pretty pumped. Of course, they're paid to say these things, but I've got a hunch that this is going to be a good one. I mean, Anthony Hopkins as Odin? Stringer Bell in Asgard? Should be pretty fun.

Dave Richards: It seems like Marvel realizes that selling Thor to the masses is going to be a hard thing to accomplish and they're amassing quite a bit of talent to try and pull it off. Until I see the first trailer, I remain hopeful and a little skeptical

Steve Sunu: I really like Kenneth Branaugh. I've seen his Shakespeare stuff about seven or eight times, and I really dig his directing. Wigler's comments on the cast really ring true here - It seems like every other day, some new celebrity is appearing in the film. It seems cool if they get the mortal part of it right. I've got total faith in the Marvel film division being able to create the fantastic world of Asgard.

Superman/Batman: Earth One

George Tramountanas: I've mostly moved to trades in my reading habits, so the notion of these two books - free of all the hassles of continuity - has me thrilled!  I truly hope DC means it when they say that they're letting JMS and Geoff Johns tell the stories they want to in the way they want.  Hey, maybe they'll even let Supes have a beer in this universe!

Josh Wigler: Clearly, the format is the big draw of these books, not to mention the talent on each title, but the continuity aspect is what has captured my attention the most. DC has to be very careful on this front - having a line of books that's outside of normal continuity is a fantastic thing for DC, but I'm hoping that the Earth One continuity from book-to-book isn't too complex. As long as they can keep that at bay, I'm very excited by the potential of this.

Tim Callahan: I'm far more interested in the Batman book than the Superman one (JMS has never written a comic that I liked in the end - he's slow to start and terrible at endings), but I don't expect anything revolutionary or even very interesting from yet another version of a couple of famous origin stories. These will probably read more like movies on paper than comics anyway, and even though I like Johns and Frank a lot, I'm not sure that these books are for me. Strike that. They definitely aren't for me, and that's the point. I already read comics.

Shaun Manning: Seems superfluous to me. The body isn't even cold on "Superman: Secret Origin" (and we're still waiting on the autopsy for "Birthright") - do we need to see Kal-El rocket to Earth again? Even given the "free from continuity" aspect, there are plenty of existing origin tales. Add to that the fact that "Earth One" means nothing to people who aren't already reading comics, and I don't see this attracting the B&N crowd any more than, say, "All Star Superman" (which actually should be pushed for the non-comics crowd who want to see how cool Superman can be).

Kiel Phegley: You can put me on the opposite side of the "too many origins" debate. I think that if they can bring something new to the mix, they should go for it. Sure, too much Superman product in book stores can confuse new readers, but even without this project, DC will continue to have many, many multiple collections out there, so I don't see an origin specifically poisoning the well for potential new readers. But we'll see. It'll need a great marketing push to do what they want it to do. I wish them luck.

The Conclusion of "Buffy: Season Eight"

George Tramountanas: The ride throughout Season Eight has ranged from good to great.  Knowing Joss Whedon and his ability to plot and plan, I'm confident he has something fantastic in mind for the end of this series. But please, Joss - don't kill any of my favorites or force them to wear giant, gaudy pendants.

Dave Richards: Again, I'm in the minority here. I think this series has become a bloated mess. They'd better have a hell of an ending if they want me to come back for "Season Nine."

Steve Sunu: Joss Whedon once said at a panel at SDCC 2008 that in his projects, "You're either out or you're dead." With Buffy already having her lesbian experience, I fully expect him to fulfill this prophecy and kill at least one beloved character. Like Oz. I bet it's Oz that dies...

Shaun Manning: My money's on Tara to be the Big Bad. Just 'cuz. But seriously, Buffy as a TV series excelled at season finales and I expect no less from the comic. And if Oz dies in Buffy, they can always shift him over to Angel.

Kiel Phegley: LALALALALALALALALA! Catching up on this book right now and trying to avoid spoilery things!

"Siege" in the Marvel Universe

Dave Richards: "Siege" is only four issues long and it promises to change the current status quo of the Marvel Universe, so it has the potential to be a tight, epic story. When you add in the fact that it's a war story about gods and mortals and that it will feature the reunion of the classic Avengers, you definitely capture my attention and get me excited. I'm eagerly anticipating "Siege." It could very well be Bendis' best event story ever.

George Tramountanas: "Siege" is promising to wrap up everything that's been laid out in "Civil War," "Secret Invasion," and "Dark Reign" - and it's going to do it in four issues! That's a lot to live up to. I am both excited and nervous about the conclusion of "Siege." Let's hope this event ends right.

Kiel Phegley: The pages I've seen look good. Some clear action from Bendis and Coipel that I hope holds up across the rest of the series. Honestly, the thing that I've enjoyed the most about Marvel's big events the past few years has been the larger meta-story of whatever the new status quo is and what that means for the book across the line more so than any one comic in particular, so seeing what that morphs into next is a fun thought.

"X-Men: Second Coming"

Dave Richards: This is the final chapter of Marvel's big promised trilogy of X-Men stories.  There's a lot of plot threads that seem to be coming together: Hope's return, what's been going on with the Phoenix Force, and Yost and Kyle's Bastion story from "X-Force." I have no doubt this will be an exciting story, but I'm wondering what effect it will have on the X-franchise as a whole. Hopefully it will continue to move forward in different directions like it has been and not go back to the same tired formula that we saw before.

Shaun Manning: I'm looking forward to this one. I'd like to see a pretty significant shake-up, though. While the current stories are strong in and of themselves, I feel like we've plateaued a bit.

George Tramountanas: All I want to know is that Hope isn't some weird reincarnation or clone of Jean Grey. There's too much of that already in the X-Universe.

"Fall of the Hulks" and "World War Hulks"

Dave Richards: With these two big events, Marvel promises to tie up a lot of plot threads from their Hulk family of books like (hopefully) who the Red Hulk is.  I really enjoy Greg Pak's "Incredible Hulk/Hercules," and while I think Jeph Loeb comes up with some interesting ideas for his "Hulk" book, I often find his execution of those ideas aren't as solid.  Therefore, I am curious to see what happens here.

George Tramountanas: I forgot about this one. How many events are taking place in the Marvel U in 2010? And Dave? The Red Hulk is Hush.

Kiel Phegley: Don't spoil it for me, George! But seriously...I think this is looking to be a lot of fun. It's like eight colored Hulks punching each other lots. That's what I want out of a Hulk comic, I think.

The "Scott Pilgrim" Movie

George Tramountanas: While I'm not part of the Bryan Lee O'Malley "cult," I still appreciate the books.  And between the cast of this film (Michael Cera, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman) and its director (Edgar Wright of "Shaun of the Dead"), this flick should be fantastic!

Kiel Phegley: It's really one of those things where if you're familiar with either the comic or Wright's films, you're just primed for it to kick ass, isn't it? I can't imagine this being anything but a total blast to see when it comes out, but there is that little voice inside me that keeps going, "Don't set yourself up for disappointment, Kiel!"


Digital Comics and e-Readers

George Tramountanas: Like it or not, the future is digital.  Just as newspapers and magazines are dying, I think our printed floppies will disappear.  Much like the thought of milk being delivered to homes is antiquated, I think our kids will laugh at the notion of a morning newspaper on folks' doorsteps.  I still believe trades will be around for those who like paper, but our skinny little books will be gone.

Tim Callahan: I already laugh at the notion of a morning newspaper. What a ridiculous waste or resources! All that paper and ink, and for what? For stories that could have already appeared online? So, yeah, comics are headed in that direction for sure.

But comics do have a collectible aspect that newspapers never had, and that will keep them in printed form a bit longer. Plus, until Marvel and DC figure out how to make money online, they won't be jumping over to fully-digital comics anytime soon. Maybe Longbox Digital will change that. Maybe not. But something will happen. Comics will be serialized online, primarily, within the next five years. And collected editions will still come out, because we all like our books. Our kids may not, but we do. And we'll still have some money to burn. Maybe.

Shaun Manning: A complete changeover to digital storytelling will necessitate some changes to the format, which will in turn change the way stories are told. A layout that is taller than it is wide is not ideal for viewing on a computer screen, so expect "widescreen" comics similar to Zuda's format (but hopefully with a better viewer). Mobile phone-based comics call for a more drastic alteration, presenting one panel at a time in most cases. If this becomes the standard, the pacing of a single issue will feel very different than it does now.

Steve Sunu: Personally, I think that the current screens for iPhones and eReaders are either too small or need color. Until there's an eReader or portable digital device that will let me read comics in direct sunlight in full color, I don't think I can get behind the digital format. Shaun's got the right idea - for digital comics, the pacing has to change. I really like the way I read comics now, and I enjoy going to brick and mortar stores every week to pick up my pull and chat with the store employees. Digital distribution is going to make that a lot harder, if not impossible.

Shaun Manning: Speaking of iPhones, why the hell isn't anybody making comics for Android phones? Maybe now that Verizon's Droid line is out and somewhat popular, we'll see more development. Alex DeCampi's "Valentine" is available on this platform in about a billion languages and looks fantastic. More of this, please.

The recently-released comics store on Sony's PSP has had a strong initial showing too, with a nice catalogue of Marvel and IDW titles as well as a few from assorted indie publishers. Marvel's price point of $1.99 per issue is higher than the $.99 most people are bandying about for digital comics, and could reveal a bit about how they'll treat single-issue downloads on other emerging platforms.

Kiel Phegley: I've been wondering about the whole "iPhone exclusive" element to comics releases too. But in the end, I understand so little about technology that I'm sure whenever the true comics reader appears, one of you will have to point it out to me.

Changes to the Direct Market

George Tramountanas: Diamond will change - it will have to if floppies disappear.  What those changes will be, I can't say.  They may disappear or become a specialty distributor.  Who knows?  Also, more of our comic shops will either go under or need to evolve into something else.  I don't want this - I love my comic shop - but the times, they are a-changing.

Tim Callahan: Comic shops will go the way of the baseball card shops. You'll find one in every few towns you visit, but you'll wonder how they make enough money to stay open. They'll be used book shops at best, but they'll be competing with eBay and Amazon Marketplace every day and will have trouble staying afloat

Dave Richards: It's already happening. None of the local stores in my area are strictly comic shops anymore. They usually specialize in at least one other area, like gaming, or sports memorabilia or both.

Shaun Manning: I can see larger chain stores like Graham Crackers and Forbidden Planet surviving - those that can do enough volume to make money serving fans who still want their print fix. Some dealers may only do conventions. I suspect indie shops will be few and far between, with a few clustered around major cities.

Kiel Phegley: I'm not worried about comic shops as a whole disappearing. I think there's a very good chance there will be less of them, and the ones that will survive will shift more towards an all-inclusive trade paperback sales model, but the thing that will most likely die in the next ten years is the serialized adventure comic model. Maybe e-readers will save that form of publishing, but I'm not sure floppies are long for this world thanks to a bunch of factors - the shape of the DM being a big one.

The Marvel-Disney Entity

George Tramountanas: In 2020, we'll be talking about the movies Marvel-Disney has put out and be arguing if the sale to Disney was a good or bad decision.  Some will say it watered down Marvel, while others will argue that it helped the company reach a larger audience. Whatever will be said, however, we'll have a good sense of what this business deal means ten years from now.

Tim Callahan: I strangely have no opinion on this. I suspect that the effect of Marvel-Disney will be impossible to extricate from the development of online serialization and the future of the industry as a whole. In other words, Marvel as we know it won't be around much longer, but I don't know if the Disney ownership will be the reason. This is a wait-and-see-and-maybe-figure-it-out-after-the-fact kind of situation for me.

Josh Wigler:I think the thing that worries me most is the day we see Disney stepping in to preserve the "Disney brand," Marvel's content be damned. I believe that's pretty much the biggest fear for the majority, but like Tim said, this is a wait-and-see. The full effects of Disney purchasing Marvel aren't going to be known for quite a long time.

Steve Sunu: I just really want Disney to use this opportunity to allow Marvel's characters to make appearances in "Kingdom Hearts 3." Also, I would be interested to see whether Disney moves its properties over from BOOM! Studios to Marvel. Mostly it's the "Kingdom Hearts 3" thing, though.

Kiel Phegley: I honestly think any kinds of massive changes that so many are worrying about won't start to hit for five or six years if at all, but by 2020 we will be looking at a very different Marvel for a ton of reasons (and would be even if Disney hadn't bought them). I for one am not trying to worry myself about what may come and will continue to take each new comic and movie for what it is.

DC Entertainment

George Tramountanas: I'm excited about the prospects here.  Diane Nelson seems to be a smart individual, and maybe Warner Bros will finally take advantage of all the fantastic properties they have at their fingertips.  Maybe we'll even get a cable channel dedicated to DC content...I can dream, right?

Kiel Phegley: I'm on pins and needles waiting for who the new DC publisher will be. Levitz left such a big impact on comics in general and that company in particular, it'll be wild to see who has to fill those shoes and what changes they'll make to the publishing division. Beyond that, I could care less about the movies and cartoons and stuff, really.

Tim Callahan: I'd rather read one great comic than have a million mediocre movies based on comics, and we're probably more likely to get the latter than the former. But, once again, is that because of DC's restructuring? Or is that just the direction the industry is already headed? I said I had no opinion on the Marvel deal, but I do have this opinion: Marvel/Disney is probably a better fit than DC/Hollywood. At least Disney has John Lasseter and his crew. I don't see anyone of that caliber at West Coast Warner Bros, where we get maudlin stuff like "Invictus," "The Blind Side," and the CW.

Dave Richards: I've only recently become interested again in DC Comics and their heroes, but I'm not sure what will happen. Hopefully, Nelson will set up a regime that leads to creativity in all forms of media - not just the TV and movie divisions.

Shaun Manning: Corporate-speak aside, this really ought to be a good thing. DC can no longer hide from its parent company, which may mean less autonomy, but could also mean greater exposure for their series and more support of new properties. Yeah, Time Warner will treat DC as an IP (intellectual property) farm, but the upside of this is more IP (or comics, as we prefer to call them).

Josh Wigler: The comic book movie craze is understandably looked upon with heaps and heaps of skepticism, so DC Entertainment's formation automatically reads to me like a copy of the Marvel Studios template. That said, if DC wants their comic book properties taken seriously in film, television and other forms of media - hats off to 'em. They just have to be careful - these are very beloved properties they're handling. If they put out a crappy Green Lantern movie just to put out a Green Lantern movie, heads will roll.

That concludes our look at 2010 and 2020. Since Nostradamus isn't one of our reporters, however, we're sure there are events over the next year (and decade) that we've missed. Therefore, please be sure to stop by the CBR forums and tell us those things our news crew failed to mention. We want to keep an eye out for those events (and report on them) as they come up over the next fifty-two weeks. Thanks for joining us, and have a happy 2010!

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