Frame to frame: A historical analysis of the evolution and propagation of the comic book film

Date of Completion

January 2009






Following the release of the film X-Men in 2000, film adaptations of comic books have proliferated to an astonishing degree. This study attempts to explain this preponderance due to an organic shift from the perception of comic books as children's literature to an acceptable form of entertainment for adults as a result of the increased importance of youth culture to all strata of American society. This shift is reflected in the increased thematic, narrative, and visual complexity of these modern films. Through an examination of Spencer Bennet's early Superman and Batman serial films, Richard Donner's Superman, Willard Huyck's Howard the Duck, the Batman films of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, Bryan Singer's X-Men films, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films, and finally Robert Rodriguez's Sin City, we see how the perception of the comic book as literature has changed, and how each film reflects the relationship of the comic book to the comic book film throughout the genre's development. Furthermore, a cultural comparison is made with the comic book industry of Japan, and it is examined how the two industries differ both in terms of how content is presented as well as their respective relationships with their native film industries. A recommendation for further study is included. ^