Kapow! A Solaris 100 guide to comic movie mania!

Holy comic books Batman!

Who would have foreseen the tidal wave of comic book adaptations hitting us this year: Deadpool, Batman v Superman, X Men Apocalypse, Civil War, Suicide Squad, Dr. Strange…

If you have been a comic book phobe so far, better get with the program as there is no end in sight for men and women in spandex entertaining us on the big screen… and I am not talking about your YouPorn playlist here!

So this post is aimed at all the clueless boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands, wives and casual Tinder dates who are still scratching their heads when the conversation comes to comic book movies…

Ok teach me, what are these weird “comics” then?

Think of it as adventure stories like your Tom Clancy books. Just with added awesome outfits, convoluted backstories and buff bodies! And unlike a purely written book, it comes with awesome artwork. It can be pulpy and naff like this…

…or masterful and arty like this…

Ok, got it! So it’s all about super heroes then?

Not really! As there are many genres of comics there are many adaptations that don’t look like a classic comic book movie but still originated as drawn panels! So you might have already watched some comic book movies unknowingly… shocking isn’t it!

You just blew my mind! So if comic book movies have been around for awhile now, why the sudden boom? Why is everything on the big screen currently a bloody Marvel movie?

Because comic book movies just got extra awesome lately, ok?

1) They nail the movies

A lot of current writers, directors and movie producers grew up on a steady diet of comic books and know what they are doing. Especially Marvel is very clever in hiring talent that proved themselves worthy with other movies and then bring their skill, love and understanding to the adaption. The “Thor” movie was directed by Shakespeare director Kenneth Branagh for chrissakes! 

2) The hype is with them

Another reason comic book movies do so well these days is the global spread of the pre-movie hype, leaked pictures and the geektastic discussions leading up to the latest movie thanks to the internet!

DC and Marvel can whip up enough hype to get people excited for their product in a way a regular poster promotion back in the days could have never do it.

Plus it’s just a lot of fun seeing other nerds going crazy over the latest trailer or casting announcement!

3) Better costumes!

First the costumes looked too silly ( just google “Bat Nipples” ), then they looked too black and boring. With Marvel trying to stay as true as possible to the original look of their heroes, it’s finally ok to rock some colourful garms and still kick butt!

Then ( boring ):

Now ( awesome ) :

4) Everything is finally connected

A massive appeal of comic books is the soap opera like structure that builds over years and years of interconnecting storylines, alternative universes and parallel dimensions. It’s really like Eastenders just with laserbeams and cowls.

But whilst comic books have their crazy continuity, movies still kinda stayed self contained. Only Marvel had the massive balls to imply that all their heroes exist in the same universe with this post-credit sequence from Iron Man that blew geeks minds!

Since then the biggest sign of being a comic book movie NOOB is to leave the cinema just after the movie ends and the credits start rolling… NEVER LEAVE THE CINEMA UNTIL YOU SAW EVERY POST CREDIT SEQUENCE!

5) Taking risks

There has been a time where the only heroes you could enjoy on the big screen were Superman and Batman. Marvel cleverly pushes new heroes into the limelight to keep things fresh and combat the dreaded “super hero fatigue”. Racoons with guns and magicians travelling through the 5th dimension? AWESOME!

Ok, great so comic book movies are awesome AND big business. What movies do I need to know so I don’t not look like a sucker?

In order to prove that you didn’t just jump on the hype train recently you need to know these classic comic book adaptations…

Whilst the first movie is more iconic, Tim Burtons sequel delivered more weirdness and the best Catwoman we have seen on screen so far. Funny that Batman is not only the super hero that kinda kicked off the comic book movie hype, but nearly buried it as well! But more of that later…

Based on the manga from 1989 this animated adaptation of the comic books has been ripped off and referenced over and over again. So you better watch this first so you can call out all the imposters and imitators out there!

Whilst Iron Man gets all the praise of kickstarting the MCU ( Marvel Cinematic Universe ), it’s really this movie: Blade!  Half human, half Vampire, this ass kicker hunts and kills vampires whilst wearing sunglasses at night. Lots of gore, amazing art direction and a banging soundtrack made this movie a fresh breath of air for the tired super hero genre in 1998. 

The first big onscreen assemble movie! Spot on casting and the more serious approach talking about how minorities are treated and viewed by society paved the way for maturing the genre. And ripped Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine has done more to get the ladies into the geek game than all the Supermen in their tight outfits combined!

One of the best out there, Spiderman 2 directed by Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame is a highlight of the genre. Again it’s all thanks to the casting, great CGI and the comic book love of a director that knows what he is doing. 

Watchmen by Alan Moore has a very special place in the pantheon of comic books as it’s a complex meditation on superheroes and their role in society. Set during the Reagan Era in the 80ties, the comic explored the theme of real life super hero issues entangled in politics, betrayal and cold war paranoia.

The direction and look created by Zac Snyder makes this one of the best and mature comic book movies out there in my opinion.

The one that brought Marvel back to life after the studio nearly went bust: RDJ as genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark and the mix of slick cinematography and snappy dialogue made this the Big Bang of Marvels movie universe!

Widely hailed as the best comic book movie ever made, Nolan brought his own brand of seriousness to his Batman trilogy, rebooting the franchise as a gritty crime saga. Heath Ledger as the Joker first created a shitstorm with the fans but ultimately created the definitive portrayal of the character, earning him a posthumous Oscar in 2009. Instead of putting the comic book antics first, the director crafted a solid crime thriller first and a super hero movie second. Bingo!

Important! You will not only be judged by what you love but even more importantly, what you hate! Here are te 5 movie you must hate…

The third one is always the worst! With Bryan Singer departing the franchise to work on his Superman dream project Brett Ratner was called in to pick up the pieces and screwed it up. And let’s mention Wolverine: Origins as well which still get’s a lot of crap for not getting the character of Deadpool right…

Bat Nipples and campiness dialled up to 11… this movie buried the Batman franchise and had the director apologise to Bat-Geeks everywhere for years to come.

Spidey Part 3… see, there is a theme emerging! With a horrible dance scene and mishandled characters this killed off Spiderman until the reboot… which sucked as well and forced Sony to ask Marvel for creative help. Oh the humiliation! Just say “They totally shafted Venom, dude!” whenever asked for your opinion on this matter.

DCs attempt to catch up with Marvels movie masterplan to get a slice of the connected movie universe money could be called “divisive” but I will be a bit more frank and call it A CRAP, RUSHED, BITTERLY DISAPPOINTING MOVIE! The only thing worse than the movie is this trailer that gave away all plot points, twists and turns. Before you call me a Marvel fanboy and DC hater read this meditation on Batman to see that I really looked forward to this!

Ok so I hope you are all clued up now!

I could ramble on and on but like I said, there is a lot of fun to be had getting involved yourself! And with a plethora of comic book movies in the pipeline this year there has never been a better time toput on your cowl and mask and head to your local multiplex…


Man, it’s a crazy time to be a geek! Who would thought there would be a time where our sweatiest nerd fantasies would come true? We see The Avengers battling it out on the big screen, Star Wars sequels finally get made and Batman faces off with Supes! Sometimes I feel I slipped into an inter-dimensional crack and ended up in an alternate reality where great comic book movies actually exist. Remember this background from Will Smith’s I Am Legend movie?

What started as an in-joke in 2007 actually becomes nerd reality in 2016… how crazy is that? I just hope that doesn’t mean a breed of mutated vampires will take over the world in a couple of months… 

Whilst I have no idea if the movie will be good or bad ( early reviews indicate a mix of both ), the anticipation of watching this epic team up on the big screen makes me want to talk a little bit about my relationship with the bat-eared vigilante called Batman. Because although I am aware of multiple comic book heroes superficially, only Batman made a lasting impression. So am I Team Batman? F**K YEAH!

I started, like any honest Batman fan, as a young nipper watching re-runs of the camp 1966 TV show. I actually taped each episode on audio cassette by holding the recorder next to the TV set and created custom tape covers after. I think I never listened to them afterwards, I just loved collecting them and adding my own spin on it… what a foreshadowing of things to come! #collector / #hoarder

I even painted a movie poster for my local cinema when they screened the movie from 1968 one weekend. Man was I proud seeing it hanging in the lobby! Good old days! *sigh*

Fast forward a couple of years and I enter Batman’s world again in the late 80ties, actually reading the comics when Batman was spelled Bat-Man. I just loved the premise of Batman being without super powers, having to win using his gadgets, intellect and obsession with avenging his parents death. No cosmic eye lasers here! The logo and his costume were so damn iconic as well. Let’s talk villains: To this day I think Batman has just the best gallery of rogues of any comic book hero out there: Scarecrow, Penguin, Joker, Riddler, Poison Ivy… I just loved the richness and uniqueness of Batman’s world.

I think what kept me personally invested in the character was that Batman’s struggle and villains always were relatable. It was like Batman had to battle his inner demons which were manifested in his villains. I loved Two-Faces coin, Jokers pure insanity and Scarecrows psychedelic horror trips. Somehow other superheroes like X-Men or Superman were just too out there for me to relate to. Batman was the guy every angsty kid wanted to be. And don’t get me started on the pimp Batcave with the massive coin and stuffed T-Rex: Super playalistic fo sho!

Then this happened…

Tim Burtons movie from 1989 just blew my mind. Loved the crazy costumes, the iconic vehicles, the tidal wave of Batman merch and the soundtrack, being it the swooping theme from Danny Elfman or the insane Funk of Prince. The only things that were horrible about this movie were the Amiga 500 computer games which I still played night after night anyway!

The older I got the more I got invested into the f**ked-upness that underlies Batman’s obsessed fight against crime and Jokers psychopathic mass mudering. Things got dark! “The Killing Joke” and “A Death in the Family” really shook me. Seeing Robin being beaten to death with a crowbar by the Joker is as far away from the 1966 Batman vibe as you could get!

Whilst we are on the Joker: My favorite one is of cause Heath Ledger as he nailed the insanity and creepiness the Joker needs to possess to be effective. In that aspect I am very interested in what Jared Leto will bring to the table as he might go more day-glo but is definitely not less unhinged than Ledgers Joker was.


Now things really got exciting when Frank Miller wrote the Dark Knight Returns and it’s sequel: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Dark as hell, loaded with political allegories and the genius idea to pit clean cut and dull Superman against gritty and mistrusting old Batman. Till this day these books are benchmarks in visual storytelling and I would recommend them HIGHLY… even to people who might not feel like reading comics!

So when I go to the cinema tomorrow I expect a lot of nods to this fan favorite. Ben Affleck already dons the combat suit as we know through the trailers so I am really looking forward to all the other easter eggs they will cram in there surely…

Plus: FINALLY the see some white Bat-Eyes!!!

So am I hyped? YES! Loved Man of Steel and apparently Batfleck nails the darker more violent tone of the new Batman incarnation. So bring it on!!!

Of cause I can’t sign off without giving you my top 5 Batman items out there!

1. 1966 Batman and Robin Hot Toys

Absolute killer, they come even with a can of shark repellent. The detail on these are insane as expected of Hot Toys and they capture the awesomeness AND naffness of the costumes perfectly.

2. 1966 Batmobile Hot Toys

 via  Batman66.com
via Batman66.com

Another thing to love from the 1966 incarnation of Batman is the vintage Batmobile! I had a small Hotwheels version of it back in the days and seeing this beauty blown up to fit 12″ toys is a view to behold. Pure raw uncut awesomeness!!!

3. Mondo Batman Vinyl… ALL OF IT!

Mondo doesn’t only creates the best alternative movie posters out there but brings the extra amazingness with their vinyl releases. Although I never watched The Animated Series these vinyl releases are just breathtaking!

4. Rainbow Batman 6 Figure Pack

So apparently these are based on a comic from back in the day but me being a sucker for bright colours and weird variants this is definitely on my shopping list, breaking my self imposed toy buying embargo!


5) The friggin’ 1966 cowl by Mattel!!!

Do I need to say anything more?