Jacob Levy gushes over the sequel to X-Men, which debuted yesterday. It sounds good. I never saw the first in theaters, although I own the DVD.

For whatever reason, maybe it’s the improved FX made possible by modern CGI, but the comic book based live action dramas of the last couple of years have been radically better than their antecedents. The TV Superman of the 1950s was unwatchable. The 1960s Batman was amusing, but had little to do with the comic book. The Christopher Reed Superman movies, except the dreadful thing with the missiles, were enjoyable but, also, so loosely based on the comics as to be annoying to an afficionado. Ditto the Batman movies of the 1980s and 1990s, although some were better than others. The Punisher movie was horrible.

Strangely, TV has been better. Even the old Bill Bixby Hulk series was quite good, if not completely faithful to the comics. More recently, both the Lois and Clark series and the ongoing Smallville show on WB are quite good depictions of the post-John Byrne Superman mythos. The movies are getting there, too. The first X-Men and Spider-Man were quite good. I haven’t seen DareDevil, but understand it was decent as well.

(Heretical Ideas has a take on this, too.)

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jay Solo says:

    There was a Punisher movie?! It must have been bad, if I never even heard of it.

    I linked Levy’s comments and rambled about comics myself. Good observations here.

  2. 42nd SSD says:

    I think the comics industry as a whole has improved immensely in the last 20 years, most importantly the quality of the writing and the stories. They’re being written for a more mature audience, and I’m not referring to “sex”, just the sophistication of the plots. I also believe this explains to a large degree why the movies are getting better (though I also agree that the CGI has had a large part).

    Superman has always been a lose. He’s almost an impossible character to write anything interesting about. “Oh, dear, there’s a problem! Superman’ll save us!” If you’ve seen the early Superman animated cartoons of the 40s you may have some idea of what I’m talking about. They tried, they really did, but what could’ve been an interesting character quickly degraded into this boring unstoppable creature. And I’ve always felt that the last-minute desperate plot devices (Clark Kent and Kryptonite) were really lame.

    [I was never allowed to read comic books as a kid (my parents were very conservative… atheists) so I didn’t grow up with them. Maybe that makes a difference.]

    I’ve come to enjoy the more recent US comics, especially the Grant Morrison JLA stories, and I like the more recent X-Men and Batman/Dark Knight stuff. I’m also a manga fan, and generally prefer it over the traditional US comics.

  3. John Lemon says:

    But has anyone noted that Cap’n America has been kind of a PC wussy as of late? I thought the Cap would make a huge comeback after 9-11 and that a movie would be a slam dunk. Apparently, though, Captain America is rather conflicted…even about what the US accomplished in Germany during WWII (seriously!).

  4. Jay Solo says:

    They’ve done that to Captain America? That’s terrible!

  5. John Lemon says:

    I picked up a Cap’n America comic at a local bookstore the other day (geez, have these things gotten expensive — damn collectors!), and it had a Middle East terrorist plot, but the good Captain was agonizing about all the US had done to get us in the mess. C’mon. I heard about his agonizing over the bombing of Berlin through another trusted source.