Marvel’s many marvels: An update on comic book cinema

Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga.

The trailer to the new “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie came out and when I heard Blue Swede’s chanting, I was instantly hooked on a feeling: I needed to watch this movie. A movie with a talking raccoon, a tree with a limited vocabulary and lots of space aliens.

I had read a couple of issues of the “Guardians” comics before the movie  trailer came out, but only because I heard that Chris “Andy Dwyer” Pratt was going to be the sexy action star.

The comic book was definitely not something I would have recommended to casual fans of comics.

The “Cosmic” side of Marvel has always been the stranger and more obscure side, especially compared to the “Earth” comics.

And yet as of last weekend, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is now the top-grossing movie of 2014 in America and has a rating of 92 percent on rottentomatoes.com.

I am certain that the awesome visuals, great acting and the pure joy of watching this movie added to its popularity, but I am even more certain that this movie would have been big— though maybe not as big—regardless of quality.

Comic book movies aren’t just for comic book fans or people who want to see George Clooney’s nipples anymore. They have gone from a niche market to a booming, unstoppable business.

They have exploded into a genre that boys, women, fathers, grandmothers and estranged lovers can all enjoy.

This is in large part because many comics blend a lot of emotions and genres. There’s just the right amount of drama, action, romance, humor and thought to make it interesting for hardcore fans and also various sorts of people who have never read a comic.

The MCU, Marvel Cinematic Universe, is so popular that Marvel has a 10-year plan with dozens of A-list actors, directors, screenwriters and just as many movies. They are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars with each movie and each film seems to make more money than the last.

DC is now trying to play catch-up and growing their cinematic universe without laying the groundwork that Marvel did. They are hoping that Batman and Superman are powerful enough to draw people into the new “Batman vs. Superman” and the 100-percent-true rumor of a “Justice League” movie.

I love DC, but I am critical of how they seem to be trying to jump on the bandwagon full of cash cows. I also think their approach is all wrong—serious and brooding. DC can’t just “Batman-ize” their whole stable of characters. The constantly angsty Clark Kent was my main problem with the recent “Man of Steel” movie—that and, you know, everything else in the movie.

DC also has “Green Arrow” airing on The CW. It has a very dedicated following and is also critically loved. And not just by crazy Tumblr fans.

Weirdly enough, DC has a lot of upcoming shows, like “Gotham,” “The Flash,” “Constantine,” “iZombie” and the “Preacher.” Debuting a lot of their series on cable television is an interesting choice. I think it’s a great choice for some, like “The Flash,” because of how cheesy the comic is, but the lower production values make it feel like it wouldn’t translate as well as “Batman” or “Constantine.”

After over a decade of success, comic book cinema is still going very, very strong, as both viewer reactions and box office receipts show. Better yet, the future of comic book adaptations is bright: more and more attention and money are being heaped onto this relatively new jump of the comic medium.

Based on all that attention, I doubt the adaptation train will slow down anytime soon.

Still, a part of me hopes that someone out there will steer the train away from the traditional caped superheroes and onto comics like “Saga” or “Sex Criminal.” When it comes to branching out, “Guardians” should be just the beginning.