King Edward VI School student Sage Langdon, 17, considers the changing role of comic book heroes
Remember when your weekly comic was delivered? Topper, Beano, Dandy, Whizzer and Chips, even 200AD?
Well now, it is interesting to note how comic-based culture at the same time declines but rules the universe. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, to be exact. The MCU is one of the dominant franchises in our entertainment industry, derived from a golden age of comic book superheroes.
Trailers for Spiderman: Far From Home have been released to high acclaim – and in the coming months, the much-publicised Avengers: Endgame looks to smash box office records.
Marvel is all over our small screens too, with more than 10 TV series on the go. This is the norm now. Many years ago, big budget productions were unfathomable. Entertaining was down to the pioneers with the mighty pen – they had the masses raving about the next issues of Captain America and The Incredible Hulk. Which brings me to my question: Is the comic book going extinct?
The current era of comics have spread their characters and storylines far and wide, with mixed results. It seems now that for every original hero, there are 50 alternate versions of that hero, all running about in their own worlds. As time has passed, an increasing number of unique heroes have been introduced to the Marvel Multiverse – Squirrel Girl, anyone? Big Bertha? The Phone Ranger? These new characters merely fill space and never leave a lasting impact. Children around the world still don costumes worn by old favourites, and that’s unlikely to change. Today’s extended storylines bring together a huge number of characters from a variety of backgrounds in a clash of spectacular proportions – for a reader well-versed in comic book lore, this is a joy, but for a layman picking up a comic for the first time? The easy factor to mention regarding this lingering question is the increased influence of technology on our society. Comics aren’t the only medium suffering, traditional media must compete with the introduction of electronic forms available anywhere. Marvel has adapted to reflect these changes in a bid to win support.
With all these factors in play, it’s no wonder that the popularity of long-running comic series has diminished. Long gone are the days where comics were mass produced and sold in all local newsagents, where the neighbourhood children could pick up their copies every weekend.
It seems now that comics must be tracked down to obscure corner shops, where only the discerning super-fan can browse. But does it have to be this way? The original understanding of characters is being distorted, and I think every fan should be able to enjoy what the Golden Age of comics had to offer. Marvel Entertainment has certainly not put a foot wrong in leaping forward with technology, but it wouldn’t hurt them to use some of their marketing power to bring comics to a new generation.
When ‘Avengers: Endgame’ hits cinemas this spring and audiences flock to see it, I want them to truly appreciate the roots of their heroes. Classic characters deserve more of the limelight, just as they have received in movies – after all, they carry a legacy that will never disappear.