It often feels as if the comic-book industry has moved to the left of Hollywood, long the nation’s most liberal industry. This is an intriguing turn of events, given that comic books are now little more than a pool of intellectual properties for Hollywood to raid. Warner Brothers owns DC Comics; Disney bought Marvel Comics and holds the film rights to the Avengers-affiliated properties (Iron Man, Thor, etc.); Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man; and Fox owns the rights to the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and several other properties. This doesn’t even account for independent movie studios and independent comic-book houses.
Barely a month goes by without one or more comic-book flicks’ hitting the big screen. This summer alone saw the release of Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, 2 Guns, Red 2, Kick-Ass 2, and R.I.P.D. At least nine more comic-book adaptations already have release dates in 2014. As studios grow more reliant on existing properties (the “pre-awareness” of which supposedly helps keep advertising costs down) and big-budget spectacle (which supposedly sells better overseas), the studios are likely to lean ever more heavily on the comic-book industry.