All posts by Rob Thassen

7 successful comic book superhero films

 

7 successful comic book superhero films

Superheroes have been an important part of popular culture in the last 80 years, since the most important publishers in the field have appeared, such as Marvel Comics and DC Comics. One of the first feature films with superheroes was The Mark of Zorro, from 1920, a silent film based on the 1919 Zorro story “The Curse of Capistrano”. However, the first film based on comic book characters was the 12-chapter black-and-white serial Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941). Two years later, a film featuring Batman was launched, and from that moment, comic book superhero films have never ceased to appear, attracting an ever larger number of fans. Here is a list of the most successful superhero feature films of all times:

1. Iron Man (2008)

Based on the character of the same name from the Marvel Comics universe, Iron Man was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Main stars include Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, Shaun Toub, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Billionaire engineer Tony Stark develops a powered exoskeleton to fight evil as the technologically advanced superhero Iron Man. A critical and commercial success, the film received positive reviews from critics and grossed more than $585 million.

2. Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man (2002) stars Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, a shy and nerdy high school student living in New York City and gaining spider-like abilities that he would use to fight evil as a superhero. The film waited its turn to be produced for almost 25 years, until it was licensed for a worldwide release by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 1999. Both a critical and a financial success, Spider-Man earned $100 million in its first weekend and remains the most successful film based on a comic book. Two sequels were released, in 2004 and 2007.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy is based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. The film directed by James Gunn is the tenth in the Marvel cinematic universe and features a group of superheroes forced to collaborate to eliminate a fanatical warrior from taking control over the universe. Although the Marvel team chosen for this film was less known and some considered it a not so good choice, the film was a success and became the highest-grossing superhero film of 2014.

4. The Avengers (2012)

This 2012 superhero film is based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name and was written and directed by Joss Whedon. The cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and Chris Hemsworth. In The Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor are recruited by Nick Fury, the director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop Thor’s brother Loki from subjugating Earth. The Avengers was the first Marvel production to generate $1 billion in ticket sales.

5. The Incredibles (2004)

Not all successful superhero films have to feature Marvel or DC Comics characters; a good example is the 2004 The Incredibles film, telling the story of a family of undercover superheroes who try to live an ordinary life in the suburbs but who are eventually forced to take action to save the world. Produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, the film received high critical acclaim from professionals and also performed well at the box office (it grossed $633 million worldwide for its original theatrical run). A sequel is scheduled for release in 2018.

6. The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight is the second film of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy and a sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins. Its cast features Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman. In The Dark Knight, Batman forms a team with James Gordon and Harvey Dent to destroy the organized crime in Gotham City. The alliance is menaced by the Joker, a criminal looking to undermine Batman’s influence and cause chaos. The Dark Knight is considered by a large number of critics the best film of 2008 and it received eight Academy Award nominations, winning the award for Best Sound Editing.

7. Deadpool (2016)

This adventure comedy film is the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time when unadjusted for inflation and the highest-grossing X-Men film. Due to its success, a sequel was ordered by Fox. Deadpool was directed by Tim Miller and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick; it features a fast-talking mercenary of the same name who is left with accelerated healing powers after being subjected to a rogue experiment. The critics acclaimed the film’s style, although the plot was seen as rather predictable. Deadpool was a commercial success, grossing more than $783 million worldwide.
All we can say is this list has opened our appetite for superhero films and makes us look forward to upcoming sequels.

10 of the most popular comic book publishers in the world

10 of the most popular comic book publishers in the world

From comic book publishers that have started their activity in the Golden Age of comic books to manga publishers and companies that are not active anymore or have been taken over, the complete list of the world’s comics publishing companies is huge. Here is a selection of the most popular and successful publishers:

1. Archie Comics (US)

Archie Comic Publications has been established in 1939 and its headquarters are located in Pelham, New York. The Archie Comics universe’s main characters are fictional teenagers such as Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Reggie Mantle, Jughead Jones, and Veronica Ludge, all created by Bob Montana. In spite of its long history, Archie Comics has adapted to present days and continues to evolve; in 2007 a “new look” series of stories was launched, with Archie characters being drawn in a way more similar to their first appearance.

2. Carlsen Verlag (Germany)

Carlsen Verlag was founded in 1953 in Hamburg and focuses on children’s books, such as The Adventures of Tintin, Harry Potter, and Rugrats’. Its comic book division has become in the last years one of the three largest comic publishers in Germany.

3. DC Comics (US)

Founded as National Allied Publications, DC Comics started its activity in 1934. DC Comics is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Some of the most famous superheroes exist due to DC Comic’s artists: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Shazam, Cyborg, Aquaman, the Green Arrow, and many others. DC stands for Detective Comics, one of the company’s most popular series, where Batman debuted. Active imprints of DC Comics include DC, Mad Magazine, Johnny DC, Mad Books, Young Animal, and Vertigo.

4. Média-Participations (France)

This huge French media concern is specialized in Franco-Belgian comics including important publishers such as Dupuis, Dargaud, Fleurus, and Le Lombard. Média-Participations is the third largest publisher of France and it publishes around 20 million comics each year. Some Franco-Belgian comics that are famous all over the world include The Smurfs, The Adventures of Tintin, Asterix, Lucky Luke, and Gaston Lagaffe.

5. Marvel Comics (US)

Marvel Comics’s parent company, Marvel Entertainment, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2009. Marvel’s beginnings date back from 1939, as Timely Publications. In the early 1950s, the company’s name was changed to Atlas Comics. The present incarnation dates from 1961, the year when The Fantastic Four was launched. The most popular characters include Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Wolverine, and Spider-Man. Superhero teams from Marvel are the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, The Guardians of the Galaxy, The X-Men, the Inhumans, and the Defenders. The first comic from Marvel or rather its precursor, Timely Comics, was Marvel Comics #1, published in October 1939.

6. Kodansha (Japan)

Headquartered in Bunkyō, Tokyo, Kodansha is one of the best-known Japanese publishing companies, founded in 1938. Its portfolio includes the manga magazines Afternoon, Nakayoshi, Evening, and Weekly Shonen Magazine. Kodansha also publishes literary magazines, such as Faust, Mephisto, and Gunzo.

7. Viz Media

Viz Media LLC was founded in 1986 as a Japanese-American manga and anime company in San Francisco, California. Previously called VIZ LLC, in 2005 the company merged and formed the current VIZ Media LLC, owned by multiple Japanese publishers. Viz Media’s manga ratings vary from All Ages to Mature Readers and the company was awarded the Manga Publisher of the Year Gem Award by Diamond Comic Distributors in 2007.

8. WaRP Graphics (US)

An alternative comics publisher, WaRP Graphics is known for being the original publisher of the Elquest comic book series. The company was created in 1977 by Wendy and Richard Pini. Other comic book series published by WaRP include Myth Adventures and Thunder Bunny. The comic book series is planned to be turned into a motion picture by Warner Bros.

9. Image Comics (US)

Image Comics was founded in 1992 by several illustrators who wanted to publish their materials without giving up the copyrights to the characters created. Although it has been founded rather recently compared to the largest comic book publishers in the US (Marvel and DC Comics), Image Comics has reached success immediately and continued to be appreciated by fans of series such as Savage Dragon, Witchblade, Spawn, The Darkness, The Walking Dead, Chew, Saga, and Invincible.

10. Dark Horse Comics (US)

Dark Horse Comics was founded in Milwaukie in 1986 by Mike Richardson, with the purpose of developing a favourable atmosphere for creative professionals. Current titles in the Dark Horse Comics portfolio include Abe Sapien, Angel & Faith, The Black Beetle, Harrow County, House of Gold & Bones, House of Night, Star Wars Adventures, and Usagi Yojimbo.

The dominance of Marvel and DC Comics will probably continue for many years, but other comic book publishers are also a part of the landscape; countries with successful comic book publishers include Japan, with some companies which have been established decades ago and which have made manga so popular it has influenced the comic book world all over the world.

9 oldest cartoon characters in the world

9 oldest cartoon characters in the world

The oldest cartoon in the world is considered to be Fantasmagorie, a 1908 French animated film created by Émile Cohl. However, it was Walt Disney who brought the revolution to the cartoon world and transformed cartoons into a source of entertainment. Some of the characters he created, such as Mickey Mouse, continue to be popular today. Here is a list of the oldest cartoon characters:

1. Felix the Cat

Felix the Cat dates from the Silent Film era and continues to be one of the most recognized cartoon characters in the world. Felix the Cat was created by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer and his first appearance was in November 1919. The character’s specific traits are its famous laugh, its grin, and black body. Felix the Cat has lost its popularity for a while after sound cartoon appeared, but he was revived in the 50s on American TV and the cat has been included into multiple television programs and two feature films since.

2. Bonzo the Dog

This cartoon character was created in 1922 by British artist George Studdy. Bonzo the Dog was featured in some of the world’s first cartoons and even inspired a big merchandise campaign in the 1920s which was implemented in multiple countries. Bonzo is white, chubby, and his skin is saggy; his expressive blue eyes have captured the heart of the audience and made him one of the first cartoon characters to be loved around the world.

3. Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse was created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studios, and later became the official mascot. Mickey Mouse is an anthropomorphic character wearing red shorts, white gloves, and big yellow shoes. What was different about Mickey Mouse was that the funny cartoon character was featured in some of the first sound cartoons, such as the short film Steamboat Willie, from 1928. Mickey Mouse was the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and one of the cartoons featuring Mickey, Lend a Paw, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1942.

4. Donald Duck

Also created at Walt Disney Productions, Donald Duck came to life in 1934. He is one of the most famous and recognizable cartoon characters, with his sailor shirt and cap with a bow tie. His mischievous personality and semi-intelligible speech have made Donald one of the most popular Disney characters; he appeared in more films than any other Disney characters and he is the most published comic book character that is not a superhero. Donald’s love interest is Daisy Duck and he was added three nephews, called Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Multiple artists have contributed to the creation of this character: Dick Lundy, Fred Spencer, Carl Barks, Jack King, and Jack Hannah.

5-6. Tom and Jerry

This cartoon classic was created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, as a slapstick comedy featuring two rival characters. The plot of every episode is pretty much the same – Tom tries to capture Jerry, causing destruction and pandemonium. A little known fact is that Tom and Jerry were actually called Jasper and Jinx in their debut appearance. Although the writers and directors of this cartoon have changed over time, one thing remains the same – Tom and Jerry simply take pleasure into tormenting each other.

7. Olive Oyl

Olive Oyl was created by E. C. Segar in 1919 and first featured in the comic strip Thimble Theatre. Later, the strip’s name was changed to Popeye after the main character. Before that, Olive Oyl had been the main character for 10 years, until 1929, when Popeye appeared. Olive is a flapper girl with a thin body and large feet; she becomes Popeye’s girlfriend and gets angry with him over the tiniest things.

8. Scooby-Doo

Although not as old as the other characters in this list, Scooby-Doo is extremely popular and has been ranked the fifth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time in 2013 by TV Guide. Scooby-Doo was created in 1969 and has been featured in animated TV series ever since. Scooby-Doo is a Great Dane helping four teenagers, Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, to solve mysteries involving apparently supernatural creatures.

9. Fred Flintstone

Fred Flintstone is the leading character in the animated sitcom The Flintstones, the husband of Vilma Flintstone and father of Pebbles Flintstone. The character first appeared in 1959, and the original series on ABC aired until 1966. The action is placed in the Stone Age, in the fictional town of Bedrock, where dinosaurs and cavepeople live together. Fred’s distinctive trait is his trademark yell “yabba dabba do!”

These old cartoon characters have stood the test of time and they continue to be some of the most beloved figures at the present moment. It’s impossible to not have heard about Tom and Jerry or about Scooby-Doo, and they will surely continue to be popular for generations to come.

 

9 young comic books and cartoon characters

9 Young Comic Books and Cartoon Characters

When you say comic book or cartoon superheroes, you think of Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, and so on. Maybe you also think of female figures such as Wonder Woman or She-Hulk, but chances that you think of child superheroes are very slim. Nevertheless, here is a list of the most popular young comic book characters that are doing a lot more than just playing with toys:

1. Chibiusa

Featured in the Sailor Moon manga series, Chibiusa debuts in the Chapter 13, as a small child who travels to the past from the 30th century to seek help from the Sailor Soldiers. Later, Chibiusa returns years older to become a Soldier as well under the name of Sailor Chibi Moon. Her name comes from “chibi”, meaning small child. Her uniform is very similar to the one worn by Sailor Moon and her hair is pink.

2. Kid Flash

There are multiple fictional characters known under the name of Kid Flash in the DC Comics universe, including Wally West, Iris West, Bart Allen, and Wally West II. Kid Flash’s first appearance dates from The Flash (vol. 1) #110, in December 1959. The character was created by writer John Broome and artist Carmine Infantino. What inspired comic book artists to develop this young character was the success of Robin, Batman’s younger help.

3. Son Gohan

Son Gohan is a character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toryiama. He is the son of Goku, the series’ protagonist, and of his wife Chi-Chi. Son Gohan is keen on martial arts, but his mother won’t let him practice and asks him to focus on his studies instead. However, the multiple threats to Earth force Chi-Chi to let her son fight and develop into one of the strongest characters in the series. His hair is spiked up and his name comes from the Japanese word “gohan” which means “cooked rice” or “meal”.

4. Superboy

Created by writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett, Superboy and also known as Kon-el or Conner Kent, Superboy is a superhero in the DC Comics universe. His first appearance was in Adventures of Superman #500 in Jun 1993. In the DC Comics universe, Superboy was created by Project Cadmus Executive Director Paul Westfield, who wanted to create a clone of Superman after his death. The scientists managed to get the desired result after 12 failed attempts and named him Superboy. His abilities include Kryptonian powers and tactile telekinesis.

5. Juniper Lee

Juniper Lee is the leading character in The Life and Time of Juniper Lee, an animated TV series produced by Cartoon Network Studios. Juniper is a pre-teen living in a city with magical activity and hosting both good and evil monsters. Juniper is the one who can manage the barrier between the human and the magical world and for this purpose she has been awarded superpowers, being faster and stronger than ordinary humans. The show aired on Cartoon Network between 2005 and 2007.

6. Alex Power

A fictional character of Marvel Comics, Alex Power first appeared in Power Pack #1 and was created by Louise Simonson and June Brigman. Also known as Zero-G, Alex took the name Gee after achieving gravity-manipulating powers. At age 12, Alex gains superpowers along with his siblings, from a spaceship called Friday and together they create the Power Pack. Alex is their leader and has abilities such as gravity manipulation, healing powers, and energy absorption.

7. Beast Boy

Beast Boy appears in the comic books published by DC Comics and is also known as Beast Boy. Its creators are Arnold Drake and Bob Brown; the character’s first appearance was in Doom Patrol #99 in November 1965. The character’s civilian name is Garfield Mark, a boy whose scientist parents transform him into a West African green monkey to save his life; Garfield had contracted a rare illness called Sakutia which was survived only by this species of animals. The secondary effects of the serum determined the boy’s appearance to change and also provided him with the ability to transform into any animal. Other abilities of Beast Boy include werewolf psychology and hand-to-hand combat.

8. Bart Allen

Bart Allen is part of the DC Comics Universe and he first appeared as superhero Impulse. Later, Bart Allen became the second hero known as Kid Flash. The origins of this character date back to the 1960s and in more recent years, he appeared as the main character in Impulse (1995-2002) and The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive (2006 – 2007). Bart Allen was born in the 30th century to Meloni Thawne and Don Allen, in a family of superheroes and villains.

9. Supergirl

Appearing in DC Comics media, Supergirl was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino. The character’s everyday life name is Kara Zor-El, and she is the cousin of Superman. Supergirl first appeared in May 1959, in Action Comics #252, in “The Supergirl from Krypton”. Later, the character was killed, but in the 2000s she was reintroduced in the Superman storyline, and today she even has her own comic book series.

The young characters in comic books and cartoons show us that fictional worlds can be more diverse and fascinating than one would expect, and child superheroes are actually a common thing from the early days of comic books and animations.

7 comic book heroines you should know about

7 comic book heroines you should know about

Although many comic books are male-centric and the gender gap is deplored by many readers, there are quite a few female superheroes to praise and honour. Moreover, the villain side is represented just as well by some captivating characters; here is a list of the most famous:

1. Wonder Woman

Probably the best known heroine, Wonder Woman is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Her civilian identity is Diana Prince, and she is a founding member of the Justice League. A warrior princess, Wonder Woman has been created by William Moulton Marston, American psychologist and writer. The character was developed in the early 40s and was inspired by Olive Byrne, the creator’s cohabitant, and by early feminists. According to Wonder Woman’s profile, the heroine was sculpted from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta, and given life by Athena. The Greek Gods are the ones who have given Wonder Woman superpowers and she is easily recognizable by her muscular look.

2. She-Hulk

She-Hulk is a Marvel heroine created by writer Stan Lee and artist John Buscema. Her first appearance was in Savage She-Hulk #1, in February 1980. Jennifer Walters by her civilian name, She-Hulk has become a superheroine by receiving an emergency blood transfusion from Dr. Bruce Banner, her cousin. The effect is that Jennifer becomes a larger, more powerful green version of herself. Just like the Hulk, the heroine becomes stronger when she is angry. She-Hulk is a talented lawyer in her civilian life and she provides legal help to superheroes multiple times.

3. Batgirl

DC Comic’s Batgirl is the female counterpart of Batman. The character was first introduced as Betty Kane in 1961 (Bat-Girl), and the current version was created in 1967, when Barbara Gordon was identified as the well-known Batgirl in Detective Comics #359. The character is depicted as the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon and she operates in the same town, together with Batman and Robin. A Batgirl series was published from 2009 to 2011, written by Bryan Q. Miller. Batgirl was also included in multiple media related to the Batman franchise (TV, film, video games, animations, and merchandise), which has had a decisive contribution to the character’s fame.

4. Rogue

First a villain, Rogue debuted in the Avengers Annual #10 in November 1981 to later join the X-Men. Rogue has superhuman qualities due to being a mutant and her ability to absorb the memories and powers of anyone she touches is involuntary. Because she failed to control her mutant abilities for most of her life, Rogue had to avoid physical contact with others, including her love interest, Gambit. Her civilian name was revealed as Anna Marie, and she has been one of the most important members of the X-Men since the 1980s. The heroine is recognizable by the white streak in her hair.

5. Raven

A superhero from comic books published by DC Comics, Raven first appeared in DC Comics Presents #26, in October 1980. Her creators were writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez. The character’s civilian name is Rachel Roth and she is the daughter of a demon father, Trigon, and a human mother, Arella. Raven spent her childhood in an alternate universe called Azarath, led by the mystic Azar. Azar taught Raven how to control her powers, because feeling strong emotions made her to become possessed by her father’s evil energy. Raven’s abilities include soul manipulation, teleportation, flight, prevision, and demonic energy among others.

6. Carol Danvers

Carol Danvers, also known as Warbird or Captain Marvel at some moments in her history, is a heroine featured in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Her first appearance was in Marvel Super-Heroes #13, in March 1968, as a member of the United States Air Force, and she became an incarnation of Ms. Marvel in Ms. Marvel#1, in January 1977. Carol Danvers is one of the most successful Marvel heroines and is considered a feminist icon. The character has been featured in multiple media products throughout the time, and a live-action film with Carol Danvers is scheduled for 2019, with Brie Larson as the leading star.

7. Natasha Irons

Natasha Irons is a more recent female hero in the DC Universe, and her first appearance dates from February 1994, when she was featured in Steel (vol. 2) #1. Natasha’s parents are John Henry’s brother, Clay, and his wife, Blondel. She is aware of Steel’s secret identity and she is presented as being more practical compared to her brother Jemahl. Natasha evolves from a 13 years old girl to an assistant of Nat, who has opened a Steelworks in Metropolis. Natasha’s specific traits include the armour enabling her to fly and to throw energy weapons.

There are many other fascinating female figures in the comic book world, and, aside from their superpowers and fierceness, these heroines also impress with beauty and unique charm. Which comic book heroine is your favourite?