The New Mythology
(The potential of comic books & their films)
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Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, these are the new gods. The Poseidon, Athena, Zeus of our day. The strongest similarities that we can draw are less about the characters and more with the stories that interweave them.
Allow me to explain myself.
Going back to the ancient greeks, there would be almost no significance to “The Oresteia” by Aeschylus (the story of Orestes revenge on his mother Clytemnestra who murdered his father, Agamemnon) if Agamemnon’s story hadn’t already been told in “The Iliad” by Homer.
Everything about Agamemnon’s history is assumed on “The Oresteia” which allows expanding on what was previously told.
The same thing happens with Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” which is the story of an older Batman coming out of retirement.
What Frank Miller did, was to draw from what was back then close to fifty years of Batman stories.
Both stories draw depth from the universes to which they belong. More depth than they could’ve achieved alone and this is a great characteristic of mythology. Every story lends more information on other stories and as the characters and stories grow, everything feels more real. That’s why we keep going back to greek myth and why comic books can become so deep.
Marvel understands this, its cinematic universe (MCU) proves that. It can be seen with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor.
The “Phase One” (as it’s called), features origin stories. This was necessary to make average movie-goers familiarized with the characters. However, each movie presented hints that something bigger was coming and, eventually, we got “The Avengers”.
This was the first shared universe comic film, but this was just the beginning.
A more impressive and great payoff was that with Iron Man 3, the facts of the shared Universe fed back the character and helped the character (in this case Tony Stark) grow in a way that couldn’t have been done with a stand-alone film.
If we compare this to what DC, has provided us with so far, their characters are alone. We’re talking about a Universe where Superman doesn’t know Batman or any other superheroes know each other for that matter.
I’m not saying the movies were bad, they weren’t. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was great, however, his Gotham City has no “light sister” with Metropolis. Every hero is the first, repeatedly.
That is, until the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in which we start to see this interweaving happening, even on the poster itself.
Assuming this goes well, we’ll get a Justice League (a DC analog of the Avengers) movie sometime in 2017.
Regardless, with this movie, both universes will begin to interweave and become more and more complex, bringing us more, and hopefully, better stories to see and read.