Comic book movies are apparently going the way of the Western -- at least, that's what multiple Oscar-winner and film legend Steven Spielberg recently said. The acclaimed director did more than just suggest this, he went into great detail in recent years explaining why comic book-to-film adaptations are going to die out.
The man behind Schindler's List, Jaws and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial might know what he's talking about. Whether Spielberg is correct about the destiny of comic book movies is, of course, unknown at this point in time, but one thing is for sure: Someone who has such a negative point of view about comic book movies is exactly the kind of person who should be creating one.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Spielberg would produce (and possibly even direct) a film adaptation based on classic DC Comics character Blackhawk. This was shocking news, not just because a seasoned film giant like Spielberg is tackling a DC film, but because a man who we thought disliked comic book movies is producing one. Why would he do such a thing? Is he some sort of masochist? Well, no -- it's more likely Spielberg has a vision of his own for comic book movies, one unique from anything we've seen before on the big screen. And, if executed properly, Spielberg's Blackhawk -- directly from a comic book movie-hater -- could be a game-changer.
Comic book movies will certainly die out if they believe they're a genre. Comic book film are not a genre -- they're adaptations from a medium that can tell any kind of story, from romance to action to drama and beyond. The same goes for superhero films. Superhero movies are not inherently lumped into one genre, they can be any kind of story. Blackhawk, from an "outsider" who doesn't necessarily think comic book movies have to be one thing, could successfully diversify what audiences consider to be a comic book film.
If Spielberg injects something truly unique into Blackhawk, he can help ensure comic book movies will never die, in the same way that book-to-film adaptations will never die. It'd be ridiculous to suggest book-to-film adaptations could go away -- and the same should go for comic book movies. Comics are a young medium. Yes, older than film, but there's still so much untapped potential in the way creators tell stories in comics. (Tom King and Mitch Gerads' Mister Miracle is the latest series to redefine superhero stories and comic book storytelling.) This is even more true when it comes to comic book movies.
Audiences have a rigid perception of what a comic book movie is, which is why there are swaths of folks who simply won't watch Marvel movies because "they're all the same." DC has a real opportunity to outdo Marvel with its Blackhawk film. If Spielberg and DC can reshape public perception of a superhero film, it's possible the entertainment giant could prove once and for all that superhero movies have better longevity than the Western, and thus stand apart from Marvel as a healthier alternative for comic book movies.