Kapow! Shazam!

After a summer of blockbusters highlighted by men of iron, dark knights, and boys from hell, one can only marvel at the recent success of comic book adaptations on the silver screen. After all, it was not so long ago when audiences were subjected to the intolerable cruelty of an ice-skating Batman and Robin in Warner BrothersâÄô merchandizing vehicle of the same name. Eleven years after the aforementioned Batman fiasco, âÄúThe Dark KnightâÄù emerged, shattering box office records along with perceptions of the superhero movie. One has to wonder whatâÄôs happened in the last decade to facilitate such an achievement. To find out, A&E spoke with Josh Flanagan, co-founder of iFanboy.com, one of the most respected comic sites on the Internet. To what do you attribute the success of comic book adaptations over the last few years? ItâÄôs hard to remember any old adaptations that were good. What happened is that in 2000, âÄúX-Men âÄù came out and all of a sudden it appeared that the effects could keep up with the characters. The first Superman movie was a really great movie, but if you look at it now in comparison to what can be done, the effects donâÄôt hold up. It was the first time you could make superhero movies where the effects werenâÄôt a hindrance. ThereâÄôs also been this very vibrant world of storytelling going on in comics nonstop and itâÄôs almost as if Hollywood discovered it; itâÄôs like they realized, we can do this and redo it. They can also overdo it. After the second Spider-Man we got a shot of really bad comic book movies like âÄúDaredevil âÄù and âÄúCatwoman âÄù and it started to occur to them that they can do comic book movies, but they have to be good. The shadow of Adam West looms very large. They figure they can make them goofy and people will go, âÄúoh itâÄôs superheroes, we donâÄôt need to think about it.âÄù But what we saw with âÄúThe Dark KnightâÄù is that people who like superhero stuff like it just as sophisticated as anything else. Adaptations like âÄúIron Man âÄù and âÄúThe Dark KnightâÄù have done so well critically and commercially. Has this helped legitimize the superhero movie genre? ItâÄôs reinvigorated it more than anything. Superhero comics have been giant influences on culture in the past, but the market has shrunk over the years. I think that what it shows people is that there is something to this other than childish fancy. ThereâÄôs something that people like about this stuff that they keep going back to. ItâÄôs not just kids and itâÄôs not just one kind of person; these are huge movies that everyone is going to see. The President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group has attributed âÄúTDKâÄôsâÄù success to the evil side of its characters. Do fans these days gravitate towards darker themes in comics and movies? ItâÄôs nothing new in comics. ItâÄôs funny, if you look youâÄôll see a billion articles that say âÄúcomics arenâÄôt for kids anymoreâÄù and comics havenâÄôt been for kids for at least 20 years. ItâÄôs literally around the mid-80s when âÄúThe Dark Knight Returns âÄù and âÄúWatchmen âÄù came out that comics changed. There was definitely a darker aspect to âÄúTDK,âÄù but itâÄôs nothing new. I donâÄôt think it has anything to do with the zeitgeist of people. It was just a good story that worked. And it would have worked at any time; itâÄôs sort of a universal thing with Batman. It wonâÄôt necessarily work with Superman or the X-Men. If you look at the last Spider-Man movie, they had the dark Spider-Man part and it was stupid. It has to be appropriate. ItâÄôs worrying when one thing does well and they think, well this must be the zeitgeist of everything. I just think it worked really well in this instance. I donâÄôt think the characters necessarily have to be dark, they have to be human. The dark knight is the dark knight because heâÄôs Batman. HeâÄôs depressed, his parents were killed; he goes out at night; heâÄôs an obsessive weirdo. ThatâÄôs why that story worked. The biggest hype in the comic world is over âÄúWatchmen.âÄù Will âÄúWatchmenâÄù function as a film? It could, but not in the way the book works. âÄúWatchmenâÄù is, to many of us, the greatest graphic novel ever made. If it is any good it will be solely because Zak Snyder really likes the text it comes from and really wants it to be a good movie and respects it enough to not try and do all of the things it did in the comic book. I donâÄôt recommend âÄúWatchmenâÄù for people who donâÄôt read comic books. ItâÄôs a comic book for comic book snobs, in a way. I donâÄôt understand how theyâÄôre supposed to sell it to people who donâÄôt read comics, except that theyâÄôve created a buzz around it. When the geeks get excited about it, other people tend to stand up and take notice. But at the same time, as a person who loves the book and didnâÄôt want it to get made, when I saw that trailer I was impressed that I cared. I thought, oh thatâÄôs not as horrible as I was expecting. Are there any adaptations youâÄôre really looking forward to? IâÄôm excited about âÄúScott Pilgrim Vs. The World,âÄù which is an indie book by Bryan Lee OâÄôMalley . ItâÄôs directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera. The book is so unique and has such an interesting voice. I think that could be really cool. I would have been looking forward to seeing âÄúWhite Out ,âÄù which is one of my favorite graphic novels, but that movie has been pushed back many times, which is not a good sign. After the success of âÄúIron ManâÄù, you know there is going to be an âÄúIron Man 2âÄù and eventually thereâÄôs going to be an Avengers movie. It could be amazing, but will it happen? I donâÄôt know.