It’s become common lately in Hollywood to put out movies based on comic book heroes. Marvel was already far ahead of the curb since Blade and has only gotten stronger with their Marvel Universe film series of late. DC has had the likes of Batman and Superman time and time again on-screen and are now looking to basically catch up to Marvel with their own possible film series. Throughout the decades, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a well-known superhero/superheroine who hasn’t had a film at some point (though there are TONS of exceptions, of course). But my love for superheroes in media wasn’t always due to the movies, though Marvel certainly has helped with that. No, my enjoyment of them, even before I ever tried picking up a comic book, started with TV.
I’ve lived outside of town my whole life, far enough for us to not have cable. Before we invested in a satellite dish, I had to live off of 3-4 basic channels. Luckily, some of these carried cartoons any kid could enjoy, and one of the ones I followed on occasion was “Batman: The Animated Series.” I consider it my first true foray into anything comic book-related, and it was an awesomely brooding series with great stories and a fun cast of characters. It even led me into watching similarly “dark” shows such as Gargoyles. I’m also pretty sure it peaked my interest enough to watch one of my first comic book films, Tim Burton’s “Batman.” I’ve always enjoyed Batman’s villains just a bit more than the man himself, and I’m willing to bet a large part of that was from the performances “Batman: TAS” had to offer.
I ended up dabbling in other superhero cartoons as the 90s and early 2000s wore on. Some of these were “Teen Titans,””Static Shock,” and “X-Men: Evolution,” Yes, I know, I missed out on a ton of shows, and I have since caught bits and pieces of some, such as both the 60s and 90s versions of “Spider-Man.” But for the most part, my interest in superheroes was heightened by the “X-Men” live-action movie from 2000. It wasn’t till around this time that I started looking into live-action TV shows as well.
While Marvel has continued to keep my attention mainly through their films (I watched “Mutant X” a few times and recently tried “Agents of Shield,” but I was too disinterested by the end of Season 1 to continue), DC has kept my attention mainly through television. Despite not being too hooked on either “Gotham” or “Constantine,” I’m currently enjoying the second season of “Arrow” thanks to its ongoing story and interesting characters. But back in the early 2000s, once comic book movies started making an impact again in the market, a little show came along that caught my attention: “Smallville.” It followed the life of a young Clark Kent as he grows and matures before taking on the name Superman. The show had its strengths and weaknesses both with characters and stories (including some very Buffy-esque first couple of seasons), but it was a show that you could easily get into without really knowing a thing about the Superman mythos. As the series went on, however, I started getting burnt out on its constant season renewals and the often confusing shifts in storytelling (seriously, why did Lana ever need to be there as long as she was, or come back for that matter?). But to this day, I don’t regret sticking with it for as long as I did because it had a lot of merit, opened up more of the DC universe to me through Clark’s allies and foes, and, most importantly, made me actually like Superman (who I normally find kinda bland).
I think for me the reason I love this genre so much is the creativity involved in it. With superheroes, you can have many crazy scenarios happen while also getting to the heart of the hero/heroine – what drives them to do what they do. This even applies to the large variety of villains they have to deal with. The great thing about comic books in general is that they have such rich history to choose from, no matter how many times the stories might be reinvented. As well, the entertainment value is always high, be it because of the action, comedy, drama, or mythos involved, and I’ve always loved being able to come into a film or show not having to know every bit of backstory from the comics. Sure, it adds to the experience whenever a references comes up, but the accessibility of this genre is what keeps me coming back over and over again. And until the day comes that superhero shows or movies peter out of the market, I’ll be gladly waiting to check out the next one to come along (“Avengers: Age of Ultron” anyone?).