Overstating the case?

So I've been looking at some of these year in review things, and it seems a lot of people are talking about "comic book" movies and how they are a big story and important to our end of the publishing biz... but I can't help but feel that it rings false somehow. I mean, I LOVED Dark Knight as much as the rest of fandom out there, don't get me wrong and I was thrilled that it did as well as it did. But I think that people are giving it too much credit as a "comic-book" film, and ignoring that it is actually mainly a SUPER-HERO movie, which is understandable, since a lot of people who READ comics also get confused over the distinction between meduim and genre too (that said, there really isn't any such thing as a "comic-book" film - just films that draw their inspiration from sequential art. But I digress...) The reason the distinction is important, is that just because a certain character does well in one medium, doesn't mean that it'll do well in another, or even have an impact. Watchmen may be the exception (and I'm not sure that the impact of the trailer was really felt at the comic-shops - is there anything other than anecdotal/circumstantial evidence to show that the upsurge of sales on the Watchmen trade really is a pile of people new to comics checking out the source material?), but in general are we seeing people flocking to the comic store to check out The Long Hallowe'en or Dark Detective because they saw the new Batman flick? Not that I'm aware of. Maybe I haven't been reading the right blogs or talking to the right retailers? I don't know, but I haven't seen the impact.

Further, there aren't really any Batman comics being written that are very similar in style to the films. Batman is the same in the comics as he's been depicted during the last few years, the same as most super-heroes - here's a guy who for no real reason dresses in blue and grey spandex and jumps around rooftops. The Batman in the movies is driven by the same motivation, however the film makers went to great pains to ground their Batman in reality (despite his dressing as a bat). He's a high-tech hero, almost James Bond, rather than Hulk Hogan. Body armour, driving a tank and his cape is there for more than effect, it's actually an electronic glider. The Batman films it seems are more police procedural than super powered.

That said, when a book like Wanted hits the big screen in a big way, there is the ancillary benefit of the creators getting a cheque, which undoubtedly helps them continue making comics. Of course this doesn't necessarily apply to a film like Batman, since that's all corporate money anyway, so who knows where that ends up. I'm not sure how many people who watch these movies are aware of the origins of a film like A History of Violence or 30 Days of Night. Do they go check them out? Do they even know where to go? It's not particularly easy to buy comics these days, with the direct market being what it is. Hopefully there is SOME impact from the films, but I just don't think it's as big as people would like to think.

So what's the point? In the end, I'm all for hollywood mining comics. Obviously it's a joy to see the big screen interpretation of your favourite characters and if I'm ever in a position to get a property I own optioned, I'd certainly take it. I'm just a little leery about assuming that Hollywood will "save" comics. I think it's something that we have to do ourselves, maybe similarly to the way that Robert Kirkman suggested. Of course that is a whole other kettle of fish, isn't it? Something for another day and another post...

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