From an unlikely team of Earth-saving superheroes to a high-flying caped crusader, films based on comic book characters are poised to dominate at the box office this summer, and at least one local business is reaping the rewards.
Already, Disney and Marvel's The Avengers has raked in more than $573 million with its crowd-pleasing assembly of iconic superheroes Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk.
Stephanie Smethers from Comic City in Canton said the film's success has boosted interest in comic books and memorabilia featuring the Avengers characters.
Still on deck in July are The Amazing Spider-Man on July 3, a reboot of the webslinging film series, and The Dark Knight Rises, the final chapter of the critically acclaimed Batman trilogy by director Christopher Nolan. While Batman won't be seen in theaters until July 20, presale tickets for midnight screenings of the film, which went on sale nationwide Monday, already are selling fast.
Smethers said the store has a hard time keeping its Batman endcap in the store fully stocked, as anticipation builds for the film and its onscreen interpretation of Bane, an antagonist from the comic books.
"Now with The Dark Knight Rises," Smethers said, "People are actually excited over the fact that it is Bane, he does look different from what we know in the comic, and what we know from (a much-maligned interpretation in 1997's Batman & Robin film)."
Smethers said the character, written as having brute strength — and intelligence — that rivals Batman's skills, was prominently featured in the Knightfall story arc of Batman lore, in which the villain broke Batman's back, crippling the hero.
Smethers said she saw an increase in sales of Batman books featuring the Joker after the late actor Heath Ledger portrayed the iconic villain in an Academy Award-winning turn in 2008's The Dark Knight. Books such as Joker and The Killing Joke remain popular to this day largely because of the film, she said.
With each new superhero film, Smethers said, comes new customers interested in reading more about their favorite heroes.
In the past year alone, films have been released featuring the X-Men, Thor, Captain America, Ghost Rider and Green Lantern, and Smethers said each time a new superhero movie hits screens, shoppers come in to read up on the characters and, in some cases, buy their first-ever comic book and develop a new hobby.
Part of what makes the films so compelling, she said, is that there often is a relatable human story at the center of the special effects-laden spectacle that draws viewers — and eventual readers — deeper into the characters' adventures.
With the runaway success of the AMC TV series The Walking Dead, which also is based on a comic book series by Robert Kirkland, Smethers said collections of the zombie-themed comics are consistently hot sellers, even among those who never would have imagined themselves buying comic books.
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