Since 2008, starting with the release of DC’s “The Dark Knight” movie series and Marvel’s “Iron Man,” and even before then, comic books have carried the stigma of nerd culture. Being a nerd was once thought as something to be ashamed of, but now it has become much more mainstream and even empowering to many individuals.
Media we never thought we would get to see became cinematic masterpieces, such as “Watchmen” in 2009. Logos and symbols began to show up on more car stickers and in more ads, allowing for more cartoon greenlights and even giving us a handful of good superhero games. Since then, it seems as if every industry is giving comic books their shot at the spotlight. Games such as “Batman: Arkham City,” “Injustice,” “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” and even the “Deadpool game” have shown that the characters and storylines themselves are to blame for their heroic popularity and not the media in which they’re presented in.
So, a big question arises as to why the popularity began eleven years ago and not say 20 years ago. This can be answered in a multitude of ways. One reason why comic book superheroes went mainstream is that now they appeal to everyone, not just tween boys. As for Marvel, in 1944 Captain America got his first feature film. DC got its golden boy Superman his own title seven years later with “Superman and the Mole Men.” This illustrates that the comic giants we know today are no strangers to the big screen, nor are they strangers to gaming. This is important because neither of these pursuits are cheap.
Marvel debuted its first game in 1982 with “Spider-Man” for the Atari 2600. DC debuted theirs with “Superman” for the Atari 2600. This is all well and fine, as many men today can remember a fondness for comic books at least at a basic level, but now we see just as many women partaking in the pastime as well. Now, with comics such as “Bitch Planet,” women are getting a much larger stake in the game.
Along with comic books gaining a huge surge in readership and interest with another gender joining the fold of fans, the social sphere of the current time is also the perfect place for such a revolution to begin. Comic books are no stranger to an odd theme or a powerful message highlighted by indie comics such as “Sex Criminals” and the critically acclaimed “Maus”. So, who better to introduce to the vast universes of the comic book fandom then the millennial and the Gen Z who are known for their general attitude of acceptance. This means that essentially everyone has their eyes on comic books now.
This huge shift in interest is in big part due to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With technology as advanced as it is today, filmmakers and screenwriters can capture the wonder and flare — that comic books have always given to a person’s imagination — on the big screen. A movie like “Guardians of the Galaxy” would never have been as well received as it was in 2014 if it was produced with 1980s visual effects. With this level of visual and conceptual exploration open to everyone, and at a relatively low price, it's no wonder that different industries are showing interest in comic books.
Now, I understand that comic books are not exactly a rich man's hobby, but the reason that comic books themselves weren't as popular back in the day is due to the different social atmosphere. What is important is that now, with the perfect social atmosphere and an outstanding leap in graphical and video effects ability, comic books aren't leaving any time soon, and we might even be entering another golden age.
Edited by Joe Cross | firstname.lastname@example.org