From comics to live action: The evolution of franchise characters

Shivani Sethu, Staff Writer

Whether superhero or supervillain, franchise characters often undergo changes to please their fans. There are several popular characters today that have transformed over time to reach their current identity.

Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland are household names largely due to their successive roles as comic book superhero Spider-Man. 

“Spider-Man is popular because of his relatable comedic personality,” sophomore Sharon Santos said. “He also has great powers.”

This superhero first came to the big screen in 2002, with Tobey Maguire starring as Peter Parker. The actor went on to star in two more Spider-Man films before the role was taken on by Andrew Garfield in 2012. Currently, Spider-Man continues to develop with Tom Holland under the direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I liked [Spider-Man: Homecoming] because it showed off [Spider-Man] in a new, modern light,” senior Sonakshi Rout said. “It was relatable to kids.”

The initial movies saw changes ranging from the use of mechanized web-shooters rather than mutations, and Parker’s love interest switching from Mary Jane to Gwen Stacy, then back again.

Marvel’s decisions regarding Spider-Man have taken the character on a whole new path. Changed aspects range from new villains brought from the comics and the absence of an origin story.

Spider-Man’s childlike innocence provides a sharp contrast to Gotham City’s grave yet fearless superhero: Batman.

This classic role has been played by George Clooney, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck, though some were received better than others. The mantle will be passed on to former “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson in the upcoming film “The Batman.”

“My favorite Batman is definitely Christian Bale because he was in ‘The Dark Knight,’” sophomore Jameson Brewer said. “You never know what will happen, and it keeps you hooked the entire time.”

Every great hero requires a worthy counterpart, and there are few more iconic than the Clown Prince of Crime himself: the Joker. While beginning as a side character created to be Batman’s adversary, the character had its first solo film in Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker,” which premiered in early October.

The villain has been taken on by Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto, Cameron Monoghan and even Mark Hamill as the voice of the animated character.

“It does have elements of dark humor in it,” sophomore Chris Hall said. “[He’s] just this complex, psychopathic character.”

The Joker’s development into a psychopathic mass murderer wasn’t initially intended. In 1966, the Batman TV series was released with the Joker portrayed as a two-dimensional prankster who preferred gag flowers to real weapons. The same can’t be said for the interpretation of the Joker hailed as one of the most chilling portrayals ever seen: Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight.” 

“The Joker contrasted Batman in a way that hasn’t been done in a superhero movie before or since,” Hall said.

Ledger’s intense preparation for the role allowed him to convincingly embody one of the most complex and captivating villains in cinematic history.


Photo courtesy of Flicker Commons