For as long as many can remember we've been in the Modern Age of Comics and like any great Renaissance it is time to turn the page to something new, brighter, bolder and probably more expensive.
And with these words and by the great Comic Gods old and new I proclaim this to be the, "Millennium Age of Comic Books" -Octotaku (famed octopus Comic Otaku)
...and Comic Book Based Films.
What has set this time from the rest is it's strong attachment to the Hollywood film industry specifically Marvel Studios, Fox Studios, Sony Pictures which each sharing the different film rights for the many Marvel characters and Warner Brothers which owns the DC properties.
A HISTORY LESSON
In case you need a quick refresher, Comics are divided into ages at first represent by precious metals. The oldest being the Platinum Age (comics & related created in the late 1800s and early 1900s); the Golden Age (1930s -1950s) marked the birth of comic's greatest heroes in Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more by a respected publisher known as Detective Comics. The Golden Age also saw birth to another great hero in Captain America under a fast rising company known as Timely that would later go on to become known as Marvel Comics; This Silver Age (1960s -1970) brought Marvel to the forefront under two powerhouse names in Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. They would create many of the great characters we are seeing today brought to life, such as Spider-Man, X-Men & Fantastic Four; The Bronze Age (1970s-1980s) was marked by Jack Kirby's departure from Marvel to work for DC, the decline in demand for superhero stories and the rebirth of horror comics and rise in minority characters. It ended with the cancellation of several popular Marvel titles in the mid 80s; The Modern Age (1990s-2000s) is the period we are in now marked by deviation from the metallic description to mark the period and the rise in popularity of famed artists such as Todd Mcfarlane, Alex Ross and Jim Lee. The creation of more Independent comic companies specifically Image Comics and movies began playing a bigger role as many famous comic characters and properties were given the Hollywood treatment.
As strange as it may seem to some comics have value like precious metals. They are bought, sold and traded daily and their value rises with time. With the current explosion of comic based and geek culture films in Hollywood, they have become an even greater and coveted investment.
1998-2000: The Dark Age of Modern comics. Sales were slumping. It was the turn of the century, technology was rapidly changing and in 1999 comics and publishing began their battle with their greatest foe and civilizations greatest friend: Napster.
1999: 3 films changed the modern film industry. The Mummy ( yes the Mummy with Brendan Fraser) was the first film to have a computer generated character to have a full human anatomy (Imhotep in The Mummy) courtesy of the famed Industrial Light and Magic.But it was The Matrix that changed action films forever with the creation of Bullet Time and it's Oscar winning techniques, as well as George Lucas setting the standards in digital film making with the release of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.
2000: With better technology and a growing hunger for more geek culture titles Fox Pictures decided to bring X-men to the big screen sparking the super hero film's race as well as the First Comic Book Arms Race of the Millennium Age. The interest in comic based film sparked an interest in published works again.
2001: 9/11 changes the world. Marvel releases a full black cover in commemoration with Amazing Spider-Man #36
2002: Sony Pictures Spider-Man makes it's debut finally bringing Spidey to the big screen for the first time. Long in development hell the Spider-man film was something of a myth. It had always been a rumor mainly because film making technology wasn't good enough to capture Spider-man in all his glory.
2003: Comics changed forever with the birth of digital comics. This was the year digital sales began being tracked. This is the beginning of the end of the Modern Era of comics
Fox premieres Daredevil and it is panned by fans and critics quickly becoming one of the worse superhero films ever made. Though Fox takes a mistep with Marvels properties, they bounce back with X2 the X-Men sequel which is received well by fans and critics.
The Walking Dead make its premiere on Image Comics. One of the last great titles of the Modern Era.
2004: Spider-Man 2 debuts. Another blockbuster hit with fans and critics as well as financially making Spider-Man a modern global phenomenon.
2005: Warner Brother reboots Batman with Batman Begins now with a darker tone helmed by Christopher Nolan with Christian Bale playing the Dark Knight. They created a successful trilogy that went into the Millennium Age and laid the foundation for the new DC Film Universe and even the new reboot of the comics with the New 52 later.
Fox debuts their version of Fantastic Four. Riding the comic book movie high it banks at the box office but is discounted by viewers as sub par.
2006: Marvel Comic releases Civil War splitting the fan base in two. While at DC they did a weekly comic release event in the 52 after the Infinite crises sequel.
DC also concluded its Animated Universe it had began in the mid 90s with Batman the Animated Series.
X-Men 3 Last Stand is released and the chinks in Fox's armor begin to show. Bryan Singer's departure to make Super Returns hurts both franchises in a big way.
2007: The Modern Age of Comic Films ends with a dud. Spider-Man 3 is released and is a disappointment critically even though it grosses nearly a billion dollars. Fantastic Four sequel is released by Fox and it bombs barely breaking even.
Marvel Comics kills America's greatest hero in Captain America subsequently killing and marking the end the Modern Age of Comics.
Comixology, a reading and subscription service for digital comics is founded.
BIRTH OF THE MILLENNIUM AGE
2008: The birth of the Millennium Age of Comics & Comic Book based films. Comic books sales were double what they were in 2000 and showed no sign of slowing down. The fear of the death of published books begins to wane and a new Renaissance arises with the waking sun as digital and published comics create a cohesive partnership. DC lays the groundwork for a big change and Marvel Comics Universe is rebuilding after Civil War while the company takes their biggest risk yet with Marvel Studios and Iron Man. The film is a critical and monetary hit and resurrects the dying career of a once favorite actor in Robert Downey Jr. Kevin Feige and company begin the lay the foundation for an even bigger project and continue with the reboot release of the Incredible Hulk. The hit films spark confidence in the array of character Marvel Studios owns sparking the Second Comic Book Arms Race of the New Millennium.
Through a smaller imprint Marvel publishes a creator owned comic by Mark Millar & John Romita Jr. called Kick-Ass.
Warner brothers releases their anticipated sequel the Dark Knight that is met with acclaim and sorrow with the death of Heath Legder after giving a legendary Oscar winning performance.
2009: Disney acquires Marvel Entertainment in a $4 Billion dollar deal. Many speculate the end of Marvel while Fox releases Wolverine: Origins to much anticipation. It's is a complete bomb and failure creatively saved only by another master performance by Hugh Jackman. After the film's release it is apparent that Fox has lost its creative prowess. Even though it is panned it makes enough money to guarantee another film which had been talked of after Origins release that would set Wolverine in Japan based on the original comics series by Chris Claremont & Frank Miller. At this point Wolverine's first appearance in the Incredible Hulk 181 is selling a astronomical prices and the four part mini series starts attracting attention.
2010: The Walking Dead Television Show premieres on AMC
Marvel releases Iron Man 2. They stick with the hot hand and use Robert Downey Jr's masterful portrayal as the driving force for what would later become the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it.
A copy of Action Comics #1 sells for $1 million.
San Diego Comic Con breaks attendance records with over 130,000 attendees.
2011: DC ends the Volume 1 runs for their most famous titles Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman & Batman, as well as all other current running titles with their Flashpoint event and reboots with 52 new versions of their characters . This we can officially declare as the beginning of the DC millennium age.
Wizard Magazine & Price Guide ceases Publication
The First Avenger premieres bringing Captain America to life and a copy of Captain America Comics #1 sells for over $343k.
Archie Comics #1 sells for a record $167k at Heritage Auctions while a copy of Amazing Fantasy 15 sells for $1.5 million.
Fox releases X-Men First Class, something of a reboot while maintaining continuity with the original Fox X-Men films.
2012: Image Comics releases Saga & Thief of Thieves and a copy of Walking Dead #1 sells for over $10,000. Though there have been many comic events through the years, Avengers vs X-men & Age of Ultron were the biggest during this era up until now for Marvel Comics while their focus has been on the film renditions of their properties. All their previous movie releases lead up to this year with the release of The Avengers, changing superhero films forever and really setting the bar for what we have today.
Amazing Spider-Man concludes it's Volume One run just as Sony reboots the Spider-Man franchise now titling it "The Amazing Spider-Man", recasting Spider-Man with American born British raised actor Andrew Garfield. It is another flop for Sony critically but a sequel is green lit. The proud franchise that was one of the jewels of the modern film era has now began fading.
Tales of Suspense 39 (Iron Man's first appearance) sells for $375k shattering the previous record of $147k
2013: Iron Man 3 premieres to record breaking numbers marking the end of Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Soon after Marvel announces Phase 2 and premieres the Avengers sequel title Age of Ultron at San Diego Comic Con, sparking The Second Comic Book Arms Race of the Millennium Age. Agents of SHIELD Premieres on ABC giving a new platform for Marvel fans to indulge and comic collectors to expand their collections.
Marvel reclaims the film rights to several of their former properties, Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost RIder & Blade.
DC releases Man of Steel, another Superman reboot in hopes of creating a new Film universe similar to what Marvel has created.
Fox releases The Wolverine the much anticipated sequel to Wolverine Origins. A huge improvement from the previous film but still not without its faults. Prices on Wolverine mini series crash and fans begin clamoring for Hugh Jackman to appear in a Marvel Studios film though impossible due to licensing rights.
Batman Adventures #12 First Appearance of Harley Quinn in DC Comics sells for over $1000
2014: Millennium Age of Comics is in full swing with the sale of a rare Superman first appearance comic for $3.2 million. The first real big event for the Millennium Age of Comics in Marvel happens with Original Sin. DC continues reintroducing its classic characters in new age form as well as giving their villains the spot light in their Forever Evil event. Marvels brings back Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a Volume 3 series. A new female Thor is named and the Falcon takes the shield as the new Captain America as well as a new Ms. Marvel with a Muslim background.
Image Comics continues to assert itself as a force to be reckoned with. With Walking Dead still going strong it continues to release new, engaging titles that deviant from the normal Superhero comic Marvel & DC provide. It releases Outcast & Sex Criminals to rave reviews and continues to sell out many popular titles.
Fox Pictures premieres X-Men Days of Future Past and sales of the the Uncanny X-men #141 are at it's peak.
Marvel releases Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy introducing audiences deeper into the cosmic realm of the MCU. Both receive rave reviews and together gross over $1.4 billion worldwide. Marvel then follows up by announcing their Phase 3 lineup and DC and Warner Brothers announce their ambitious plan to create their own Film Universe starting with a sequel to Man of Steel with Batman vs Superman to eventually lead to a Justice League movie ushering The Third Comic Book Arms Race of the Millennium Age.
Sony releases the sequel to Amazing Spider-Man and though it makes almost half a billion internationally, it is a failure domestically.
A copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 from 1984 goes for sale for $2 million in anticipation of it reboot film release and it's 30th anniversary.
A copy of Incredible Hulk #1 sells for a record $326k after selling for $320k two months earlier.
CONTROVERSY AND BEYOND
A comic age is always marked by some kind of controversy. Like the Golden Age and Bronze Age had with the Comic Code Authority the Millennium Age has had it's share of controversies specifically the repeal of three comic covers beginning with pulling of a variant cover by Mimi Yoon for IDW's Powerpuff Girls #6. Another controversy arose after famed erotic illustrator Milo Manara was hired to do a variant cover for the new Spider-Woman Comic. Though there was talk of the cover being pulled Marvel still released it and it now sells over $150 per issue. 2015 saw it's first controversy with the pulling of another variant cover this time for DC's Batgirl #41 due to what some claimed was its connotation to The Modern Age classic the Killing Joke where many speculate that Batgirl was raped by the Joker.
In 2014, Sony was hacked by alleged North Korean sympathizers for the release of The Interview, a film by Seth Rogan and James Franco that mocks the communist country's dictator. The hack opened the curtain for fans and critics to see the poor mismanagement of the Spider-Man franchise.
Marvel confirms it will end the Fantastic Four comic series while also killing off one it's most famous characters in Wolverine and confirming it will also kill off another popular character in Deadpool. All three's film rights also happened to be owned by Fox which has been on a downward spiral much like Sony went through with Spider-Man, and is getting ready to end the X-men film franchise with X-men: Apocalypse and the Wolverine franchise starring Huge Jackman with his final film set to debut in 2017
So far can be dubbed the year of Marvel. Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures announce a Partnership to share the film licensing rights of Spider-Man and bring him into the MCU with steps being placed and taken for his appearance in Captain America: Civil War the followup to the blockbuster sequel.
Marvel Studios premiere Agent Carter, a new television series headlined by Haley Atwell in development since her debut in Captain America the first Avenger in 2011.
Marvels Daredevil premieres on Netflix to rave reviews. A second season is swiftly ordered followed by a third season of Marvels Agents of SHIELD & a second extended season of Marvels Agent Carter.
Marvel Studios releases Avengers Age of Ultron. It crosses $1 Billion Worldwide in 24 days.
Marvel Studios concludes Phase 2 with Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd.
Marvel debuts Star Wars comic series and several spin off title from related characters while Disney debuts the first trailer for Star Wars The Force Awakes. The first film of a new trilogy that brings the original cast back this time headed by J. J. Abrams.
DC & Warner Brothers not to be outdone continue working on their new DC Film Universe and expand there television properties with shows like Arrow & Green Lantern and now I-Zombie.
Also the Walking Dead television is one of the highest rated shows and now begins work on a spin off. Series creator Robert Kirkman, , has had another of his comic in Outlast picked up by Showtime while another famed Modern Era comic known as Preacher is picked up by AMC and is being produced by Seth Rogan.
With comic book based films set to be released through 2020 you can be sure that this Age of Comics will probably be one of the greatest. Marvel & Sony's alliance has opened the door for a bright future and we can rest assured that they will be producing quality films. As far as DC & Warner Brothers we can only hope and speculate until the films are released as to what their future holds. Either way Superman & Batman have a loyal following and the DC fans wont rest until they have a Film Universe that can stand next to Marvels. The only wild card is Fox and one has to hope that they like Sony will try to build a bridge with Marvel Studios now that their Superhero Film World has been written into a corner. But the real solution is for fans to voice for the rights to be returned to Marvel. Time will only tell where that conflict leads.
With these studios continuing to feed the Hollywood engine with new stories and characters people create, you can bet that comics both published and digital and in film or print will be produced at a greater volume, quality and rate than any of the previous ages.
References sited: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/ http://www.ha.com/ http://itsalljustcomics.com/all-time-record-comic-book-sales/ http://www.etonline.com/ http://www.comicbookresources.com/ http://comicspriceguide.com/ http://variety.com/ http://marvel.com/ http://www.ew.com/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/ http://www.imdb.com/ http://www.filmsite.org/ http://www.comichron.com/ http://www.comicvine.com/