Almost every year in the two decades, different movie studios give us a couple of comic book movies for us geeks to love. From major box office successes like The Avengers to absolute flops like Green Lantern, audiences have started incorporating relatively unknown characters into their lives. Now, think about 2014. What's the first comic book movie that comes to your mind? In my case, it's Guardians of the Galaxy. But immediately, I remember Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and then X-Men: Days of Future Past. Let's remember 2015 now... I have to struggle to remind myself that Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and the Fantastic Four reboot happened last year. Why is that? At first sight, if you haven't watched those three movies but have been somewhat following the genre, they sound like good movies. Better than Guardians of the Galaxy, at least! So why does it feel that 2015 had no super hero movies?
Let's start recounting every comic book movie since they started becoming mainstream: 2008. That year marked the beginning of super hero movies being taken seriously. We had, in my opinion, two of the best movies in the genre: Iron Man and The Dark Knight. Then there is The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy II and Punisher: War Zone. I was fairly young back then, still not even a preteen and I remember seeing the ads on TV for Iron Man and Batman toys and seeing the red man that haunted me in 2004 (Hellboy) around the movie theater again. . That was the beginning. 2009 gave us Watchmen and... Yes, I gotta say it, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Then, by 2010 studios started to see these kind of films were profitable, with another Iron Man movie and Kick-Ass, an extremely untraditional kind of super hero. 2011 was when I started feeling super hero movies were a thing now, with Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern and Captain America: The First Avenger. I recall remembering Thor from a bunch of Spider-Man trading cards I used to have as a kid and I became a fan again, feeling as lively as I did while watching the X-Men movies in the 2000s. 2012 was not doomsday for super hero movies, it was rather the REAL box office break with The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man. Then Marvel Studios two movies per year tradition started in 2013, with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, but also Man of Steel, The Wolverine and Kick-Ass 2. Controversial year for comic book fans, since both Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel caused a huge rift with the fake Mandarin and Superman killing Zod. However it was still a memorable year. Then we go back to 2014, that's just two years ago. That's when the genre started fusing. We have a political thriller with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a comedy/musical/bunch of other stuff that somehow worked well together in Guardians of the Galaxy, but also The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
And now, let's review last year. I remember the hype about Avengers: Age of Ultron. I felt it too! "There are no strings on me", I can still hear Ultron saying that in the trailer. People played it in my school's computers, people were absolutely loving it. And then, the movie itself came. I remember watching it a couple days earlier since Radio Disney gave out early screening tickets down here in Uruguay. And now I can barely remember it. Why? It wasn't a BAD movie, yet I am not here to discuss the quality because everyone's entitled to their opinion. Why does it feel nothing happen? Why does it feel like it didn't change the MCU at all? But then, I rationalize it. Stuff did happen!!! We had a BIG Avengers villain like Ultron, we saw Tony's demons incarnated in the robot himself, we had Scarlet Witch (one of my favorite characters in Marvel) and Quicksilver, Avengers since the first Volume in the comics, Magneto's (not-so) children, and the Vision! I absolutely love Vision too, Paul Bettany played him real well and I love the Mjolnir handing scene. I got emotional when I saw Vision picking Wanda up from the train, because I felt we were a step closer to my favorite character ever: Wiccan. We had Sokovia fly up in the sky and Novi Grad explode. The Avengers roster was reformed and we were left with Captain America, Black Widow and a bunch of relatively unknown people who had been just sidekicks up to that point. So why does it feel like nothing happened? Why doesn't Age of Ultron shine in a year we had Ant-Man (which I liked a lot, but it suffered a director change in the last minute and it showed) and the Fantastic Four reboot that made Doom... Something else and had an extremely amount of flaws.
We are reminded all the time about how Sokovia changed the world. We have President Ellis in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Thunderbolt Ross in the Civil War trailers... But I don't feel anything for the people of Sokovia. This country is usually mentioned after New York and Washington DC, but I feel more for those two than the previous one. New York gave the citizens something they didn't know existed: Aliens, gods... This changed the people, we are not alone in the world (at least not in the MCU). Washington DC... That's a different story. The Helicarriers falling on the Triskelion and the Potomac River isn't a big tragedy, because a) most than half of the people in there were HYDRA agents and b) even if they weren't HYDRA, they were S.H.I.E.L.D., so they were ready for stuff like that happening. However, it has more emotional weight because we feel like we've been lied to. HYDRA has been within S.H.I.E.L.D. since WWII, and we fell for it just like Fury, Hill and Captain America did. However, we need to be constantly reminded of Sokovia, because it was a bland catastrophe. We know New York and Washington DC, we can visit those places nowadays, even Metropolis in Man of Steel feels like somewhere we already know since we have been in contact with it for decades. Sokovia was a made-up name to replace Transia, the made-up country where Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver come from, probably because Fox owns the rights. Sokovia doesn't hold as much emotional weight as New York or Washington DC, so its destruction feels like nothing.
Then again, if you think about 2015's comic books films, you can also spot Kingsman: The Secret Service. That was a huge surprise for everyone, since it was absolutely loved by audiences without even knowing it was based on comic books by Icon Comics (an imprint of Marvel Comics). Then again, as amazing as that movie is, it doesn't feel like comic books, and maybe it's a good thing.
Maybe it is just my opinion, and the Battle of Sokovia, Avengers: Age of Ultron and 2015, as far as comic books movies go, feel remarkable to someone. I surely hope I feel different this year, at least with Captain America: Civil War, premiering May 6th.