Hey there Intrepid Readers!
Today I aim to discuss the effect that comics and comic book themed movies and television have been having on each other.
Those of you fans who pay attention to both the silver screen and the glossy page, have seen the effects that one will inevitably have on the other. Either there will be some shocking imagery in the movie to hook the minds of the fans of the comic, or the comic will bend to be more recognizable to the viewer who may be dipping their proverbial toe into the pond.
We’ve noticed this a couple of times in the movies, of course. The First that comes to mind is the inclusion of the Iron Patriot armor in Iron Man 3, that we had scene to great and almost blasphemous effect worn by Norman Osborne in the aptly named Dark Reign era of Marvel Comics. Or perhaps the easter egg in Captain America: the First Avenger when Bucky picks up Captain Rodger’s shield, nodding towards the short time period where he wore the mantle. Entire comics have been created from the dust around the ruins of New York in in the first Avengers movie, combining the first season of Agents of Shield with a much more rich comic universe and spitting out the well received Agents of Shield comic.
This happens less in DC comics, mostly because they have a long held tradition of keeping the two mediums largely separate, but with the unprecedented success of their CW series we have seen a bit of cross over. Most notably would be the inclusion of Diggle from the television series becoming a pillar character for Green Arrow in their comics universe. The writing in Flash has taken things the other way, dropping so many hints and foreshadowing easter eggs using heavy knowledge from the comic history as to be a genius level labyrinth of writing. My personal favorite was the hint that Jay Garrik was not who he said he was when his Earth 1 double was named Hunter Zolomon, the latest villain to be called Zoom.
In defiance of this, most likely due to villainy for villainy’s sake being hard to sympathize with, is Thanos. When he finally found his way onto the stage of Infinity War we found a much different versionof the character than the comics had offered. A being of tremendous power and will, traumatized by the death of his world that he feels through decisive action could have been saved, trying to save the universe in the way his mind had fixated on. This was far from the nihilist that the rest of us had come to know and love. In fact, other characters seem to have been caught up in this as Drax in the comics, at least the one most closely related to his on screen persona, was built to be able to kill Thanos with ease. As we saw on more than one occasion in that film, this was not something Batista’s wonderfully entertaining take on the character shared.
Now all of these examples have been positive, but that is not always the case. Marvel’s Netflix series have been tremendously successful (mostly) and have drawn many people into the circle of what amounts to basically the Marvel Knights. That said, they have to tiptoe around some well received parts of comic history, like the elephant in the room that is Luke Cage and Jessica Jones being a hyper dedicated family unit in the comics, but Jessica and Luke are tangentially a fling early in her series. Odd that Danny Rand is with Colleen Wing when his Catwoman-esque, on again off again girlfriend is actually Misty Knight. One of the largest missed opportunities was the creation and subsequent death of Nuke in the Jessica Jones series, when his event in comics actually brought all of the Knights together even easier than the Hand did in the Defenders!
The two series that have taken the largest hit due to this symbiotic relationship have almost certainly been Iron Fist and Daredevil. Daredevil, during the Marvel Now period, had such heavy character development as to make the character bold and fresh again, after years of the same old humdrum. It was exactly what we needed after Shadowlands failed to preserve him as an excellent villain, taking away any accountability he had for his actions by making him posessed by the Hand. Instead of living in San Francisco with new enemies, a public identity, and an incredible Daredevil Red business suit he now wore in court, they rehid his identity, moved him back to New York, and set him back about twenty years.
And Iron Fist! Oh Boy, Iron Fist! Not only did he suffer from a kind of production procrastination hell, he got exploited and put the through the grinder twice for these Netflix shows. First, he was attached to Luke Cage in the series Powerman and Iron Fist. Unsurprisingly, as it came out around the same time as Luke Cage the netflix series, it focused almost exclusively on Luke Cage. This isn’t a bad thing unless you love Iron Fist and wanted a series that had him in the title to have some worthwhile character development. In reality, he spent a large portionof the series stubbornly sitting in prison while Luke dealt with all of the familiar gangster villains we were meeting in the series and a few new ones to boot, all while tip toeing around the major summer event that year, Civil War 2.
Powerman and Iron Fist came to a close just a month or two before Iron Fist dropped on Netflix and it too had an accompanying volume coming with it. Neither was particularly well received, and the comic which seemed to only be interested in reinforcing how important Kun Lun was to Danny Rand, both felt rushed in the beginning and then floundered heavily after the conclusion of the first arch.
Now, generally I prefer how Marvel does business these days. I like the funhouse mirror effect the comics and TV get when they effect each other, and who among us doesn’t appreciate the easter eggs in all of these movies we’ve been going to see? I personally haven’t seen any of Cloak and Dagger, nor have I read anything new with Runaways since the Hulu series premiered. I can only assume they will enrich each other, but who is to say with the stress fractures that have damaged both Iron Fist and Daredevil? Kind of makes me question my incessant wish for a Moon Knight netflix series…
…Nevermind. I still want a Moon Knight series!
Let me know how you feel and what you think! Have any favorite easter eggs? Any gripes about how the comics and tv line up? Toss them in the comments!