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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Superhero Saturation:

Superhero comics have been around for almost a century now, but they've only recently gotten blockbuster movie funding, attention from the people with deep pockets, sufficient to reach a larger audience with a genuinely good product.

Comics tend to be dumb, childish, repetitive and ridiculous.  But if you take the best ideas from these comics, add in the brilliance of Hollywood's best producers, directors and scriptwriters, and synthesize a bunch of different material together that actually stands out from the rest of the pack -- you get movies of genuine human accomplishment class.

In a way, I consider the movie versions of these superhero comics to be the true canon and the comics to be the worthless throwaway filler, the difference in writing quality between the two versions is so stark.  As such, there's no need to drown yourself in the endless minutiae of the comic book worlds.  Just watching the premier television and movie content will give you everything good there is to get from the superhero comic genre.

The latest Daredevil tv series was fantastic.  Both the old Batman movies and the new ones have been perfect.  Iron Man started a great Marvel tradition of superhero films that have succeeded one after the next.  The latest Superman movie, Man of Steel, far surpassed all of the older renditions of his character.  We are just starting to create a superhero 'corpus' of 'literature' we can be proud of.  Not only have Spiderman, Superman, and Batman gotten movie renditions, we are just about to enter the age where every superhuman of any note or fame at all is going to get his turn on the big screen.  In the upcoming next few years, starting with Ant Man coming out this July, everybody who's anybody is going to get a big-budget film treatment.  Once all these heroes are brought to light, given birth in a new and modern form, we'll have an excellently diverse and deep lineup of heroes and even hero-teams (avengers, justice league) in entirely movie versions, dropping our need to consult the original comics for anything.

Green Lantern shows up again in 2020, Shazam in 2019, Captain Marvel, The Flash, Aquaman and Black Panther in 2018, Wonder Woman in 2017, Doctor Strange, Gambit and Deadpool in 2016.  Anyone who's anyone is getting a movie.

Most of the most famous villains in the comics world have also been featured.  Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Venom, everyone's been covered.  X-Men: Apocalypse will be handling one of the most famous villains in the comics world that to date hasn't been covered yet.  Thanos is handled.  General Zod is handled.  Ultron is handled.  Everyone's handled.  Green Goblin, Joker, Magneto, all the big baddies have been covered for ages now.

Green Arrow, even Supergirl are getting tv series of their own, just in case they don't ever get to appear in a movie format.  (though they really deserve to, since they're cool characters.)  Everyone gets a shot, unlike in the college football playoffs where you can go undefeated and still not be invited to participate in the final four.

If these movies succeed, they'll get lots of sequels (ala Iron Man 3).  They'll likely also open the gateway for even more obscure characters to get movies of their own.  Like Kitty Pryde.  Or Jubilee.  How great would that be?  If they fail, that's okay too, because once they've been made they can never be erased.  We'll have a treasure trove of movies that will last forever as humanity's collective gift to the future.  60-70 superhero movies.  There won't even be a need for sequels by 2020.  By then we can just rewatch old movies that we've forgotten because there's been so many they'll all look fresh and new by the time you go through them all again.  Like a Bond marathon.

100 years worth of comic material will be fully realized by 20xx.  It will all have been condensed and fermented and distilled into 100 superhero movies of true worth instead.  We'll have reached the superhero saturation point, where no further tv or movie content is needed because every single good comic idea has already come to fruition on the silver screen.  Until then, it's certainly going to be a lot of fun.

Similarly, decades of manga content is 'coming to fruition' only now.  Jojo's Bizarre Adventure comes to mind.  But also One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto and Dragon Ball.  Dragon Ball Kai is almost over, the anime the manga always deserved, but it doesn't stop there.  It just plows right in to the next arc, composed by Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Super.  Naruto's epilogue books are nearly over, and its manga miniseries is supposed to end this summer as well.  Once all that is dealt with, I bet the anime will start animating all of that additional content from beginning to end, right after they finish the current ninja war arc, continuing the animated series without letup.  Why stop a good thing, right?

Fairy Tail just reached its 500th chapter.  A huge milestone in the manga, when you add up all the omakes and spinoffs.  It's rapidly catching up with Naruto, Dragon Ball, and Bleach in terms of length.  It's already surpassed them all in terms of quality.

My point is all the best art in human history is being made as we speak -- but it won't be being made much longer.  All of these stories are nearing their conclusions -- even One Piece will reach an ending someday.  Not many of these stories will be showing up in the 2020's.  Probably not even Star Wars will still be being made by 2050.  The Hobbit 3 is mercifully over so Lord of the Rings is done for good now.  A Song of Ice and Fire will even be done, no matter how slowly Martin writes.

This is most definitely the golden age of art.  More art, from more venues, is coming out in more ways than ever before.  But once all the best ideas and the best minds have been exhausted, we'll find that, absent potions of immortality, it would be better to reflect on what's already come and enjoy these great works over and over, than move on to any next best alternative.  Fate/Stay Night is almost out of material that can be adapted into anime form.  Likewise for Bakemonogatari.  We will get one last hurrah from a lot of these shows over the next decade, and then deafening silence.  On all fronts.  We will have reached artistic saturation, where only looking inward and backwards will do us any good anymore.

Barely anything good has ended yet.  Whether it's manga, anime, or light novels all the best series are still currently in production.  But in a decade all of that will be reversed.  Instead, nearly everything good will be finished and barely anything good will be coming out anymore.  This is going to be a really interesting transition period when we realize that Iron Man and Batman Begins was a lot better than anything new we can come up with anymore.

World of Warcraft has stated that it hopes to run for another ten years.  Flip that around and it reads like this, in ten more years World of Warcraft will be gone.  That isn't long from now at all.  The greatest of all MMO's, the best book series, the greatest of all manga, all the superhero flicks, everything is ending, ending, ending, with nothing to replace any of them in sight.  Only the Olympic Flame seems to actually be immortal.  The rest is flickering out.

(Meanwhile, Scrapped Princess has finally come out in blu ray fansubbed.  Now's your chance to grab it while it's hot.)

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