Super Hero Crossover Movies?

I saw Fantastic Four this weekend. I pretty much got what I expected out of it (very little, but I’m a super hero movie junkie, so there). It did, however, trigger some thoughts:

What’s the likelihood of some cross-over films? Way back when, in a time when I actually read comics regularly, I recall this was de rigeur. You could pretty much count on regularly occuring cross-overs in the Marvel universe. The Punisher would fight Spider Man, Fantastic Four and the X-Men would cooperate to defeat the big bad, etc…

Well, more and more of the Marvel franchises have been converted to the big screen now, and some of them (F4 comes to mind) suck. Could they be rescued by the judicious use of a cross-over?

I then tried to think about the worlds in which most of the comic book movies I’ve seen, and whether or not they would preclude cross-overs. This is what I came up with:

Fantastic Four and Spider-Man both seem to be taking place in a realistic and modern New York City. These could easily be crossed over. The same goes for Daredevil.

The Punisher was generic enough that Frank Castle could easily drop into New York from Tampa (that’s where the movie took place, right?) and pay a visit to Spidey.

I can’t remember enough of The Hulk to be able to place it.

X-Men seems to be the most problematic to me. They’ve shown us a President who obviously is not the “real” President, but then again, the other Marvel films didn’t get into the current day’s politics. They’ve introduced ‘mutants’ to the world and yet no one in the other movies talks about mutants like the X-Men when referring to Spidey, Daredevil.

Hollywood used to be all ga-ga over crossovers (witness the various Wolfman vs. Frankenstein horror schlokfests). There don’t seem to be many nowadays, but the super hero genre seems to demand them.

I’ve heard lots of rumours of Superman and Batman finally getting together in a movie, but nothing’s ever come of that, so I can’t see DC doing this before Marvel gets around to it.

Any thoughts on this weighty subject matter? Would comic book movie crossovers be a good or bad thing? Could it help revive some of the sagging franchises? Is it inevitable, much as it was inevitable in the comic book world?


As I understand things, the first and largest obstacle is that the rights to the various characters, while all theoretically existing in the same Earth Zero (geek poser alert: I’m not sure which is supposed to be the “real” DC continuity Earth. Sorry.) or Universe 616 or whatever, end up going to different movie studios. That’s why you don’t even see the kind of fun hidden cameos you’d almost expect from other hereos in different movies. So first you’d have to find a studio with the rights to all of the characters in question.

To me, the rumored Superman/Batman crossover always had the best shot as a movie, but honestly after Batman Begins I’d rather never have something like that see the light of day unless Nolan was behind the whole thing. Otherwise, it’s all Marvel as far as other possibilities go. Frankly, there’s not much DC other than Superman and Batman anyway. I guess Wonder Woman is on the way, and there was talk of a Green Lantern movie, but neither of those would seem ripe for crossovers the way your Marvel ideas would.

Ah, yes. The studio issue.

My understanding, limited as I’m sure it is, is that Marvel sells the rights to their heroes to the studios for a limited amount of time (e.g. Sony Pictures gets Spider-Man for 3 movies) and then the bidding begins again.

If so, then theoretically one of the studios with a successful franchise (i.e. Spider-Man, X-Men) could pick up one of the weaker franchises at bargain basement prices when Marvel gets the rights back, and they could then do the big ‘cross-over’ thing which might actually get people excited.

Thinking about it, Alien Vs Predator was a cross-over, wasn’t it? Anyone know how that one got made?

I’d like to see a crossover movie where all the superheros beat the crap out of the guy what wrote the Hulk movie.

On a more serious note, I guess it’s all about money. Frankenstein vs. the werewolf was basically a bunch of B actors in rubber masks, with maybe a little help from Abbot and Costello. Not exactly pricey to make. Here we have intellectual property rights, liscensing fees and disagreements, special effects budgets that increase with each new super-type added to the roster, etc.

I think the real way to go would be to take the War of The Worlds approach. It was expensive, yes, but instead of a bunch of flash, boom, pow! lightshows the effects looked errily real (nightmare-inducing, as a friend of mine put it). I think this is one of the reasons I liked the early Batman movies. They had tons of atmosphere (Gotham, costuming, cartoonish touches), but not a lot of the “lightshow” stuff. I hear the new Batman is like that, and less like the dreadful Mr. Freeze episode.

Sin City strikes me as an example of this. The whole movie was shot in front of a blue screen, and the characters were all shamlessly cartoonish, but it was all pulled off in a way that was just divorced enough from reality that it made you notice and pay attention. I like that. special effects as attention grabbers are, for me at least, no substitute for smart special effects used as mood generators.

Yeah. They were from the same studio.

An Alien head shows up in the ship in Predator 2.

I think the problem is limited funds. In a world where you could make an infinite amount of films, sure, this could happen, but otherwise it’s tough.

For example, you’re a studio exec. You’ve got two viable superheroes, say Batman and Superman. You could: a) make two potentially huge movies or b) put them together and make one huge movie. The chance that the crossover is going to make 2x the revenue of a single good movie is very low.

So it seems the only chance you’ll get to see a superhero crossover is with has-been or C-grade superheroes that can’t support a movie in and of themselves (i.e. Freddy vs. Jason, AvP).

There was a greenlit superman vs. batman movie that they “suddenly” decided to shut down and make seperate films. A big factor is that, if the movie sucks, you’ve damaged two franchises.

Should Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, etc. do well, it would be pretty awesome to see a Justice League movie. As for Marvel crossovers…I dunno if they’re really necessary. It would be nice to see a few other Marvel types in Spider-Man, I suppose, since team-ups were always a big part of that character’s books, but I think you risk cluttering the film if you bring in too many outside heroes/villains.

But hey, if they want to do a Secret Wars movie or something in which a bunch of heroes take on Galactus, I’ll go see that opening day.

I mentioned this in another thread, but a Fantastic Four / Silver Surfer crossover team-up against Galactus would make sense. If the Silver Surfer movie does alright, I could see that happening.

Um, Just how many superhero movies are being made now? So far I’ve heard Green lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, probably more X-Men…who else?

Here’s an interview with Marvel’s movie liason, he mentions a number of titles:

I don’t see the point of Batman and Superman in the same “universe”. You’ve got one guy who is, to all intents and purposes, totally invulnerable to everything, flies, can go into space etc pitted against or with an otherwise normal guy who just happens to have the money and connections to have a rubber suit, the time to learn jap slapping and lots of toys.

Why does Superman either need Batman’s help or require any more than 5 seconds to defeat him? (if we igore the huge quantities of Kryptonite that always conveniently lands at the feet of whoever is pitted against Superman to give them half a chance to do anything).

So… you don’t read comic books then.

“Jap slapping”? :?

The point is that Superman is the most powerful superbeing around and Batman is the pinnacle of development non-powered superheroes. Teaming them is interesting because they come from opposite sides of the superhero spectrum. One has inherent abilities above and beyond that of mortal men, the other has trained himself to be the absolute best a mortal man can be in mind and body. They are complements and counterpoints to one another. Batman operates according to a more “flexible” moral code, one that Superman cannot allow himself to follow due to his power. Superman relies on his superpowers almost to a fault (according to Batman), and Batman’s ability to plan and strategize is routinely shown as an asset just as valuable as Superman’s strength or speed.

You can do quite a bit with the pairing in terms of a film. You have the themes of earning one’s power. Superman never did anything to earn his abilities, he just was born like that. Whereas Batman only became what he is through pure discipline and training. Superman plays in a cosmic world of gods and superbeings because that’s what he is, whereas Batman is a mere man taking on that world with his brains and mortal abilities and coming out on top. You have the dichotomy between their worldviews, their similar dedications to justice via near-opposite methodology, and of course Batman’s inevitable need to plan for the possibility that he may need to take Superman down at some point.

The entire Justice League tends to get their asses kicked when Batman’s not around to outwit the opponent. He’s a part-timer that they only are allowed to call in when things are absolutely dire, in fact. Superman doesn’t always agree with Batman’s methods, but generally is portrayed as considering Bruce to be his equal. As Supes himself said in an episode of JLU, “He’s the most dangerous man I know.”

My favorite line from a comic book is in Dark Knight, when Superman says “We must not remind them that giants walk the earth.”

There were a couple Hulk crossovers in post-series TV movies that I dimly recall. Thor in the one and Daredevil in the other.

In addition to studio-rights wrangling, I think another factor to how difficult big crossovers are is that Hollywood seems to view doing origin stories as mandatory. So that inherently cuts down on future crossover potential; you’ve got to do origin movies on every potential crossover candidate, by the usual quality spread of flicks, most of them are going to suck badly, which leads the studios into deciding such-and-such character isn’t worth further investment.

Dang, 10 superhero movies on the horizon? Iron fist? Luke Cage? Cloak & Dagger? I always thought of these guys as fringe players.

Now Doctor Strange…If they could find a cool way to do it, and not just a bunch of lights, that could be neat. I remember what I thought his coolest trick was. Galactus had invaded earth yet again, and all the superheroes showed up to fight him. They were getting, understandably, trounced. Doc S. showed up and hit galactus with a totally invisible spell that made all the ghosts of all the people who had died on the planets he had consumed rise up and scream into his conciousness. Galactus was floored, right there, giving the heroes time to save the day, and a weak spot to hit. It was devastating, it wasn’t flashy, and it was uber-potent. One of the best superhero moments I recall.

I also like it when their power fail them and they have to be clever. Iron Man got his start because he was near death from shrapnel in a chest wound. Rather than die he built himself a life-support chest-piece, then expanded it to a suit of armor to help him punish his captors and escape. necessity as the mother of superhero success-I always have had a soft spot for that.