You Say Exploitation Like It’s A Bad Thing

You say “exploitation” as though it’s a bad thing.

One way to gauge the success of genre is by studying how widely it becomes accepted in popular culture. Consider “Iron Man.” Granted, Tony Stark has been part of the Marvel Universe for some time, but only since the release of the first “Iron Man” film has the character become a recognizable figure across the board. As Ben Parker might intone with a dying breath: “With great power comes great exploitative potential!”

Since the initial release of the golden helmeted one on the movie screen, we’ve seen a plethora of video games, t-shirts, key rings, action figures, wearable items such as gloves with repulsor beams and shoulder weaponry. And we’ve even been treated to the animated adventures of a young Tony Stark as a kid Iron Man (I can feel the cringing across the internet).

But is it bad? With the profit being reaped by the success of this franchise and “The Hulk,” fans will be rewarded with “The Avengers.” Ten years ago, anyone suggesting that a gathering of heroes receiving a serious big screen treatment would have been met with much eye rolling. Furthermore, other heroes who might not have seen action (“Wonder Woman,” “Green Lantern,” and “Deadpool”) now have a chance to become a new film franchise.

So what’s the down side? Maybe it’s the feeling that something you’ve claimed for your own is now being shared with people you’ve never been allowed to vote into your group. Maybe you’re concerned the producers of both book and film will disrespect the integrity of the story and character in favor of appealing to a broader base.

Consider how different titles have been affected by celluloid success. “Marvel Comics” is now “Marvel Entertainment.” Writers for comic books now have to think about writing for film and how their work may make the transformation to the screen. The effect on storyline and character may be slight in some instances, but for die-hard comic book fans, it’s noticeable. In the end, is it worth it?

Absolutely.  I can still remember watching Spiderman swinging across the screen, treating me to a visual that I would never have thought impossible. We want our superheroes on screen and in books. We want them in computer games and on our lunch boxes. In short, we want our cake and to eat it, too.

With great power comes great exploitive potential.   And we’re all winners, Uncle Ben.

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