When Kevin Feige began teasing the Multitude of Madness, the planet was told fans would finally get a horror comic book movie. When news spread faster than a case of clap in an NBA locker room, about a bazillion nerds got clammy hands and began stammering uncontrollably.
The thought of watching a real horror comic book movie in theaters was a dream that has been teased but never entirely delivered. Much to the dismay of many CBM enthusiasts, the delay is understandable. When you consider production houses are only comfortable making a superhero movie with eff bombs and random cleavage recently, Hollywood should be ready to push this profanity-laced medium.
But, Feige took a gigantic step back during a public appearance at the New York Film Academy in late 2019, which created quite the kerfuffle in nerd circles.
“The Multiverse of Madness is the most outstanding title we’ve ever produced, by the way, which is one thing that’s exciting about it,” said Feige. “I wouldn’t necessarily say [Doctor Strange 2] is a horror film, but it is, as Scott Derrickson — our director — has pitched it, a big MCU film with scary sequences in it.”Kevin Feige to the New York Film Academy, 2019
That gripping reality, in a word, sucks. (So does the fact Derrickson is no longer his director.) Why doesn’t the idea of a horror comic book movie seem to come to fruition? Why can’t Hollywood look at the immeasurable material all comics have created and make a real, R-rated, jump-out-of-your-skin horror flick with anti-heroes? Let’s find out.
Here are some thoughts on why we can’t seem to get a horror comic book movie.
Are Comic Studios Too Scared to Make a Horror Comic Book Movie?
If horror isn’t your thing, Derrickson is quite the authority on this subject, so trust his opinion. He wrote and directed Deliver Us from Evil, Sinister, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. So, when that guy said Doctor Strange 2 will have “scary sequences,” we should believe him.
Of course, that won’t be hard to do with Sam Raimi at the helm of the film now. One, not for nothing, that is PG-13 (even though a guy named ‘The Necromancer’ is a crucial character). Despite Raimi’s involvement, the Grand Poobah of Marvel Studios is sharing that the movie is, in fact, not a horror comic book movie.
So, there’s that.
Many fans assume with James Wan (of The Conjuring universe) at the helm of the Aquaman franchise, he will put his horror chops to the test and give us what we want – the first real horror comic book movie. The problem with that thinking is they would be wrong.
In 1998, the CBM universe was given the standard-bearer of the horror comic book movie. The movie was Blade, and the man who kicked open that door is Wesley Snipes. Before Logan and Deadpool, we had our first rated-R CBM and the first “horror comic book movie!”
Since then, Marvel has forgotten fans about this film. Snipes and Blade was a blood moon eclipse ahead of its time because it has been crickets ever since at Marvel and DC (much less, IDG, Dark Horse, Image, Vertigo, Milestone, and the rest). No one has tried to break the mold on a horror comic book movie since. Why not?!
The timing was certainly optimal. In 1996, the slasher and horror genres were resurrected from the dead with the advent of Scream. CBM fans knew what comics had at their disposal, but nothing. Only a few years ago, production houses considered breaking ground on a dual-genre movie. As mentioned previously, Marvel is at least teasing the idea.
It’s no surprise that horror film directors and comic book movies make such bosom buddies. At least, it shouldn’t be. Our Britany Murphy wrote a dazzling piece stressing that wonderful partnership. Read it. You’ll understand.
And then, there are the hapless comic book filmmakers, DC Comics and WarnerMedia.
Is WarnerMedia the Screaming-White-Chick-in-Slasher-Films of the Horror Genre?
If Marvel handles this correctly—and there is no proof anywhere that makes us think they won’t—The Necromancer in Doctor Strange 2 will creep us out. PG-13, be damned. There will be some shuddering in our pleather seats. Yet, DC Comics has a cavalcade of creeps to produce an entire legacy of horror comic book movies.
Jim Lee and the muckety mucks over at DC Comics are so committed to the horror genre that they named it. The official imprint is entitled “DC Horror.” To see how close DC Comics should be to this blood-curdling greatness, the imprint was created…for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It!
And who oversees Aquaman again? See?! That close.
It’s not like James Wan hasn’t tried to bring us a horror comic book movie or a TV series. Remember when DC was feeling themselves and created DC Universe? That was going to be the paradigm shift needed to catch up to the Marvel momentum created with the master touch of “The Infinity Saga.”
They came out of the box swinging too. Up first to bat was Titans, a live-action (very) grown-up version of the cartoon. Then, Doom Patrol rolled up to the DCU garage along with that LEGO-set Cyborg mask. Followed by Stargirl and a rumor of the risqué animated Harley Quinn came next, but then the original premiere series and our foray into the shadowy world of comics, Swamp Thing. And at the helm, who else? James Wan.
Welp, what happened? Somehow, WarnerMedia happened. They’re the Jerry Jones of comic book entertainment—always sticking their nimble, skeletal fingers and hooked runny noses where they do not belong. There is WarnerMedia, running and screaming in place, getting nowhere, just like the first victims at Camp Crystal Lake every few years. And then, dead.
Yep, this close.
Is the Answer for Horror Comic Book Movies the Anti-Hero and Supervillain?
Comics have been the looking glass of our lives for decades. From a World War to a Cold War, making history in the White House to taking down divisions in any house, it has been comic books that have provided a glimpse into our souls and that of the world around us.
Today, this nation is full of (relatively) happy people in miserable circumstances. We need an escape, a distraction. And sometimes, surprises do the trick. Enter the fray, horror comic book movies. Hopefully.
We had Spawn, which should have done it, but no. Hellboy? We weren’t ready for either version. After Blade excited us, the idea of a horror genre was dropped faster than Taylor Swift writing another song about her next jilted lover.
Constantine. Ghost Rider. Batman Returns. The Crow. Even the Split-verse proved it can’t be done. We are getting nearer to the precipice of full committal, with Brightburn, The New Mutants, and Mr. Happy up there, Joker. However, the ominous ambient glow has never been darker than when WarnerMedia courted Guillermo del Toro for Justice League Dark.
Yes, that was whizzed away faster than a drug sample in an NFL locker room. Should that be a surprise? Absolutely. Should it be acceptable? Absolutely not! DC Comics owns more anti-heroes, super villains, and many creatures of sardonic origin. They even own a six-issue comic miniseries called DCeased.
Horror could be a timeless aspect of the comic book movie genre. It can happen anywhere with about anyone. Monsters to demons, anti-heroes to supervillains are all there for the imagination to run wild and into a dimly lit room to cry into a pillow.
CBMs are anthems of sophisticated storytelling where jump scares could happen in places other than the stereotypical back of a dark hallway.
We had Venom and Carnage. We’re getting Morbius and The Necromancer. And if you think Marvel is the only group brave enough to go there, Netflix is bringing us a beautiful story from genius scribe Neil Gaiman, The Sandman. We are getting another bone-chilling comic series, Wytches. And, remember, Black Adam crushed a dude to his bones. That’s a little grim for the kiddos, right?
People who asked Santa for horror comic book movies have reason to smile. Well, smirk. The teeth will start to show when DC Comics takes their evil out of the closet and finally shows Marvel how to do something for a change. Then again, if they drag their heels on this too, a real Mephisto, Asteroth, Blackheart, and even an MCU Doctor Doom should scare the crap out of anyone.
It’s a race, no question. A horror comic book movie is coming. Both universes are poised to bring it. One was made for it. And no one gets it. We need this in our lives! Take all our money. Regardless of who brings this toy to the geek sandbox, we will all be there to play with it. So, time to put the welcome mat in front of a comic house of horror and get ready for whatever awaits when they finally open that door.