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Why Hollywood recycles its superheroes

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Jeff Horwich: The fourth Spiderman movie in 10 years just came out. Next week it’s the seventh Batman movie of the modern era. Seriously: How long can we keep doing this? The “Comic-Con” Convention just kicked off, and if there’s anywhere to get an inside line on the heroes of tomorrow, that would be it.

Jeff Boucher writes the blog Hero Complex from the LA Times, and he’s with me from Comic-Con in San Diego. Hey Jeff.

Geoff Boucher: Hey, how are you doing?

Horwich: Spiderman, Batman, the X-Men — these are comic characters from decades ago, right? Movie audiences, I would think, they have to get tired of these retreads eventually, right?

Boucher: Well, you would think, although there’s something to be said for mythology that sticks. You know, Superman’s been reinvented in every decade by that decade’s Hollywood, and interpreted by that decade’s audience.

Horwich: But we have to run out of characters eventually, I would think.

Boucher: Yes, we do. Although, you know, every once in a while, a new one does break through. Hellboy, for instance, certainly not one of the classic comic book characters but made it to the screen. And then there’s movies that are based on comic books but people don’t really know it — like “Road to Perdition,” or “A History of Violence” or “Ghost World.”

Horwich: So I want your predictions now, as you look ahead 20 years: Who do you think might be the new Spiderman and Batman?

Boucher: That’s an interesting question. It’ll probably come from the world of anime. That’s the area of comic book world that is doing best as far as a publishing endeavor. And then, you know, you’ll see Superman again. You have to remember too is that for Hollywood, these aren’t just about selling movie tickets and popcorn. These things are selling toys, merchandise, video games — that’s where the really big money is, and that’s why every year you’re going to see that familiar red S.

Horwich: So it sounds like even if there is some exhaustion with Superman, Batman, etc., there’s a deep well that the industry can pull from.

Boucher: You know, the thing about these heroes is they always show up in the nick of time. So don’t worry, there’ll be another one.

Horwich: Thanks. Geoff Boucher writes the Hero Complex blog on comic books and pop culture for the L.A. Times. Thanks Geoff.

Boucher: Thank you.

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