Yeah… I was really baffled that Marvel was going out of their way to make an Ant-Man movie, another character I’d consider D-list. Though that’s my personal bias again, Ant-Man was another character I didn’t see much of duting my time reading Marvel comics. But I do realize that both Ant-Man and Black Panther have had recent critically acclaimed comic book series, though I had stopped reading Marvel by that time.
It is sort weird, seeing obscure titles like Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad becoming hit films. If, twenty years ago you had told me Suicide Squad would be made into a big budget movie, I would’ve laughed it off. But all of these examples – GotG, SS, BP, AM – do go to show that superhero comics are viable IP farms.
[quote]Beyond the longtime recognition factor that applies to only a handful of household-name superheroes - Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and a few others - it really makes no difference to mainstream movie audiences whether a character has been an A-list or Z-list character in the comics. They only care about what they’re seeing in the movie.
There was a time when Iron Man, Cap and Thor were seen as lesser comics characters, and a sense that Marvel Studios was stuck with them as their best shots, after trading away rights to Spidey, X-Men, the FF and so on. Now we consider Iron Man to be the lynchpin of the MCU, and that’s entirely down to how he was brought to the screen, and the success they made of the movie version of the character.
The conventional wisdom has generally been that name recognition will put asses in seats, hence why Superman and Batman got franchises first. Maybe Blade was a game changer in that respect.
It’s an interesting dynamic. In the 80s, the X-Men was the best selling comic book series, but had zero pop culture cachet. Nobody who didn’t read comics had any idea who they were, not even Wolverine. Then the cartoon came along in the early 90s and probably primed a generation to see the movies that came out about ten years later. So, in a pop culture sense, they went from D-list to A-list, to where even your grandmother knowws about Wolverine and Hugh Jackman.
Iron Man is also an interesting one. It really came from nowhere… there wasn’t any hit cartoon like X-Men or tv series like The Incredible Hulk to put the character into the pop culture collective consciousness, and, from what I recall, its success took everyone who monitors these things by surprise.