How Superhero Film Continuities are Becoming More Like Superhero Comic Continuities (And Why That's a Bad Thing)

A barrier standing in the way of enjoyment of the Marvel and DC comic book universes is the sheer weight of nearly a century of continuity. As one fan memorably puts it, if you don’t have a doctorate degree in the history of the DC Universe, you can’t enjoy a Superman comic anymore. With superhero films steadily evolving from standalone movies and series in the early part of the century to more recent entries in which every film and TV show is interconnected with every other, it would be interesting to look at how the superhero film industry is slowly becoming more and more, in this respect, like the superhero comic book industry. Specifically, this would focus on an eventual breaking point in the continuities where there is simply too much interconnected material to effectively handle, which would inevitably lead to either:
1) The proliferation of superhero movies for an increasingly hardcore (but steadily shrinking) audience that ceases to appeal to moviegoers at large
2) The necessity of a movie that essentially wipes the continuity clean, a la Crisis on Infinite Earths

  • This is an interesting discussion, but part of this that needs to be considered that the wiping of the continuity occurs throughout the comic series anyway, so although there is a century of story in place this is already broken as far as continuity is concerned. Just consider firstly the New 52 for DC. – SaraiMW 5 years ago
  • I think this is a really cool idea! For anyone writing on this, I would encourage them to look into Jenkins' concept of "convergence," meaning when multiple forms of media are used to form one cohesive experience. You could look at how the comic book universe differs from/is similar to the film universe and how the two respond to one another, for better or for worse. – Heather Lambert 5 years ago
  • I agree that the continuity of comic books has become almost infinite, and the different timelines seems to question the validity of the narrative structure, but this could simply be a case of a story attempting to stay relevant for nearly decades. Having a character exist for a continuity spanning from around WW2 to the current day cannot be without it drawling storylines. In regards to superhero movies doing this, well its hard to make the comparison when most major superhero franchises (Marvel and DC), are basing their movies off the course material, the comic books. So it's almost unfair to argue that these superhero movies are falling into the same 'trap', as they is what they are destined to do, given their source material. It might help to compare these movie franchises, to novel superhero movies, without comic book origins. – Gliese436B 5 years ago

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