Here is our third installment of how Marvel is getting comic book movies absolutely right. Hot off the heels of their first financially successful sequel with X2: X-Men United, that would also subsequently launch a global franchise of film and tie-in products, Marvel went 2 for 2 with the successful release of Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man 2. While DC Comics was busy trying to play catch-up in the freshly lucrative field of heroic cinema with the Christopher Nolan-helmed re-launch of their Batman film franchise, Marvel had just struck gold again. But before Batman Begins goes on to become The Dark Knight, another Marvel film’s second act rules all others…
Spider-Man 2: Sequel Perfection
Attained Just prior the box office dud that would be Elektra, Marvel crafted what is still today, nearly a decade later, the single best comic book film sequel ever made: Spider-Man 2. The entire cast from Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man film would return for this sequel (even with a cameo by the late Green Goblin) that featured the perfect mix of comic book storytelling drama, another classic Spidey villain, and more over-the-top Spidey-action.
This sequel finds Harry Osborn diving into a bottle following Spider-Man’s presumed killing of his father, The Green Goblin / Norman Osborn. This sequel to the seminal Spidey film also featured only one real Spidey villain in Otto Octavius’ Doctor Octopus, though Peter was at odds with Harry through much of the picture. Peter also continued to struggle balancing his life as a college student and Spider-Man, all while trying to maintain a relationship with the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson, who was growing distant. Spider-Man is forced to deal with his best friends descent into madness, the love of his life’s struggle with her career and her feelings for Peter, his own torment of trying to tell his Aunt May about his involvement with Uncle Ben’s death, and the rise of the greatest and arguably maddest villain he has ever had to face.
But trying to force franchise lightning to strike a 3rd time was a struggle…
The Not-So-Fantastic Four and The Fallout of Failure
Following the critical and commercial successes of both Spider-Man 2 and X2: X-Men United, Marvel would again foray into the lesser known world of some of their characters in an attempt to breathe newer, fresher life into their cinematic universe. While they believed The Fantastic Four would (logically) be their next huge franchise, the films based on these Marvel legends faltered after just two releases, though the sequel to the original Fantastic 4 film, entitled Rise of the Silver Surfer, still holds up today as a nice piece of work.
However, Marvel had two silver linings during this time period: the surprisingly financially successful release, but overwhelming critical failure, of Ghost Rider that starred Nicolas Cage, and also birth of Marvel Phase One films with the release of 2008′s Iron Man. In Part 4 of our series, we look at the launch of the Marvel Phase One films and the birth of today’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Do you think Marvel is getting it right?