How the upcoming Marvel movies will affect comic book prices
by Christopher Tanis and Ashley Cotter-Cairns
Marvel Comic Books were first adapted into films as early as 1944, when Timely's Captain America was adapted into a serial by Republic Pictures.
Over the years since, Marvel comics have been adapted by a number of studios. After Disney's acquisition of Marvel in 2009, they became the primary, but not sole studio devoted to making films based on Marvel characters.
The prices of comic books featuring the primary hero, or villain, and even secondary characters, have sometimes jumped dramatically on mere speculation about movie releases.
Recent years have seen tremendous growth in superhero films, thanks in no small part to Marvel's X-Men, Iron Man, and Spider-Man franchises. Since, we've seen Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, and numerous other characters on the big screen, even the Ghost Rider.
As of early 2014, Marvel characters are slated to appear in no fewer than eight upcoming films, some in development, some in pre-production, and some in post-production.
Four of them are Disney productions, three are coming out of Fox, and one from Columbia. Some will continue or reboot old franchises, while others will explore new territory and perhaps create new franchises.
Marvel Comics-connected films seem to be an unstoppable force in the industry, leaving DC far behind. We'll explore all of them.
We'll also look at those rumors about upcoming Marvel movies, and the vague hints that have been dropped about movie projects on the way from both companies.
Click the links to read detailed articles as we add them.
Slated for an April 4th, 2014 release is Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This will be the second installment in the series starring the Star-Spangled Avenger, and is a sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger.
Like that film, it has a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Anthony and Joe Russo directed Cap this time around, with Chris Evans and Cap, Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow, Sebastian Stan as Bucky, Anthony Mackie as Falcon, and the always potty-mouthed Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Nick Fury.
In the movie, Cap and the Black Widow must enlist the aid of Falcon to help them track down an unknown assassin with a vendetta against S.H.I.E.L.D., The Winter Soldier.
The major beneficiary of The Winter Soldier is the first appearance of The Falcon in Captain America #117 (click for value). This late Silver Age issue has seen very healthy upticks, especially in mid-grade, since the upcoming Marvel movie was announced.
CGC 7.0 price in 2012: $57
Columbia's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is due on May 2nd, 2014, as the second feature in the newest Spider-Man franchise since Spidey was rebooted in 2012.
In the new series, Andrew Garfield presents a very different Peter Parker than we got from Tobey Maguire's performances in the last series. This Spider-Man is edgier and darker, heading more towards Batman territory than you might expect.
Jamie Foxx co-stars as a radically-redesigned version of one of Spidey's oldest nemeses, Electro, with Paul Giamatti as The Rhino. Marc Webb directed the film, from a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner.
CGC 8.0 price in 2012: $957
CGC 9.0 price in 2012: $635
One more book which has been jumping in price since Amazing Spider-Man 2 was announced is Amazing Spider-Man #121. Most collectors know what happens in this issue, but just in case, we have "hidden" the story ending on the image below.
Hover your mouse over the cover if you know, or want to know, what happens in the end of the book... and what will happen at the end of the movie!
CGC 9.4 price in 2012: $558
CGC 9.4 price in 2014: $946
Fox's X-Men franchise also returns in May, on the 23rd, meaning that there will be two movie adaptations of Marvel Comic books competing with each other for late-spring box-office dollars.
X-Men: Days of Future Past has nothing to do with the Moody Blues and everything to do with the legendary 1981 Chris Claremont/John Byrne Uncanny X-Men story arc of the same name. The film was shot in 3D, and was directed by Brian Singer from a screenplay by Simon Kinberg.
Hugh Jackman stars as Wolverine, while both Patrick Stewart and James Macavoy portray Charles Xavier/Professor X at different ages.
The two comic books which told the original story, Uncanny X-Men #141 and #142, have both increased in value, but have begun to drop off as (a) the movie release date approaches, and (b) more and more copies of these relatively common books have flooded the market.
CGC 9.8 price in 2012: $237
CGC 9.8 price in 2012: $171
Coming on August 1st, 2014, is a Marvel film that many thought could never happen: Guardians of the Galaxy. Fans of the 1970s Marvel series may not find much that is familiar here, but they will find a lot of action and science-fiction-style special effects.
Chris Pratt stars as Peter Quill, with Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Vin Diesel as Groot, and Bradley Cooper as Rocket.
Luckily for Guardians writer/director James Gunn, the late summer release date guarantees there will be no other superhero films out then to compete with. There are no other Marvel films scheduled until 2015, and DC doesn't have another release scheduled until 2016.
There are many, many previously disregarded books which have been influenced by this unexpected movie release. Most people would never have dreamed of GOTG being made into a movie, so there was much raiding of dealer dump-bins when it was announced.
Perhaps the biggest winner was an obscure Marvel magazine-format comic book called Marvel Preview #4, the first appearance of Star-Lord, which certainly in low grades was never in much demand.
Another major upturn was enjoyed by owners of a quite scarce pre-superhero comic, Tales to Astonish #13, which saw the first appearance of Groot.
But there are lots of other late Silver and Bronze Age comic books which have increased in value, including Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (first appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy team).
CGC 7.0 price in 2012: $372
CGC 9.2 price in 2012: $153
CGC 7.0 price in 2012: $138
The above-mentioned next upcoming Marvel movie is still in the pre-production stage: the as-yet-untitled Fantastic Four reboot.
After the tepid success of the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four films (along with the legendary and never-released 1994 disaster), Fox studios decided to reboot the franchise so that it would connect with their X-Men franchise, just as all of the Marvel films are now intended to exist in the same "universe."
Shooting is scheduled to begin in Louisiana later this year, with Josh Trank set to direct. As of this writing, the script is unfinished and no cast members have been announced, but the release date of March 6th, 2015 has been set.
All the obvious books which could increase as a result of the 2015 FF reboot upcoming Marvel movie are already (as the Wall Street guys put it) "priced in" due to their evergreen appeal.
We'll still mention them, because they are never going to be bad buys: Fantastic Four #1 (first appearance of the super-team and the book which launched the Marvel Age of comics), and Fantastic Four #5 (first Doctor Doom). The affordable end of the market (in common with other Marvel keys) has seen the best gains.
As soon as details of other villain (or hero) appearances leak out, there are bound to be others affected by the news of the appearances.
CGC 0.5 price in 2012: $930
CGC 3.0 price in 2012: $675
The strong rumors surrounding a Black Panther movie have seen his first appearance, in Fantastic Four #52, leap massively in value. Screenrant has a quote from a Marvel source which confirms the rumors.
CGC 8.5 price in 2012: $389
CGC 8.5 price in 2014: $1,050
Fox’s X-Men: Apocolypse is slated for a May 27th, 2016 release. No details are available about the film, other than that Brian Singer is set to direct it as a sequel to 2015's Days of Future Past.
It is expected that the majority of that film's cast will return for this next installment. It's too early and there are too few details for comic book increases.
Marvel is also set to release the next Avengers installment in that series with Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1st, 2015. As before, Joss Whedon will write and direct, and most of the cast of the 2012 Avengers will be returning:
Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Rufalo as the Hulk, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Joining the Avengers for this go-round will be Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver. James Spader is set to menace the Avengers as Ultron, Marvel's most malevolent robotic villain. Plot details have not yet been leaked.
The boat has well and truly sailed on this upcoming Marvel movie! The most important Ultron books are Avengers #55 (first full Ultron) and the co-villain from the movie, The Vision, which first appeared in the now-hot comic Avengers #57.
CGC 9.8 price in 2012: $653
CGC 9.2 price in 2012: $535
One hugely hot book which has probably seen most, or all, of its gains is Iron Man #55, the first appearance of Thanos. This villain will appear in both Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2, which explains why its price has gone through the roof!
CGC 9.8 price in 2012: $2,687
CGC 9.8 price in 2014: $4,247
Also in the works for 2015 from Marvel is the Ant-Man movie, set for a November 6th release. Paul Rudd is set to star as the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man, while Michael Douglas is lined up to portray the older Henry Pym, inventor of the technology that allows Lang to become Ant-Man.
Edgar Wright is set to direct from a screenplay he is co-writing with Joe Cornish. No plot spoilers have yet come to light.
CGC 4.5 price in 2012: $958
CGC 6.0 price in 2012: $690
There are several undisclosed upcoming Marvel movies for release in 2016 and 2017, while Columbia is banking on the new Amazing Spider-Man franchise to remain popular enough to spawn two more sequels, set tentatively for non-specific release dates in 2016 and 2018.
Columbia is developing scripts for a Venom movie, as well as one featuring the Sinister Six, while Fox is in development on scripts for an X-Force film and a sequel to Wolverine.
Marvel is said to be developing further installments for the Captain America and Thor franchises as well.
Such is the rumor mill that all of the following are somewhere on the radar:
Nothing but rumors are available about any of the movies in this category, and some of them will no doubt turn out to be little more than just that: rumors.
50 percent or more of movie projects with scripts in development never see the light of day, so perhaps we shouldn't hold our breaths.
DC's films have not fared as consistently well. The Christopher Nolan Batman films were fabulously successful, with Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight becoming the stuff of film legend.
2006's Superman Returns was a reboot that failed to spawn a franchise, and Superman was again revamped in 2013's Man of Steel. The Green Lantern and Jonah Hex films are perhaps best forgotten.
DC's fortunes have been such that only two films are on the horizon: the yet-untitled Man of Steel sequel (often referred to online as Superman vs. Batman) and a rumored Justice League of America film.
DC and Warner Brothers have been talking about a Justice League of America movie on and off since 2007, with very little coming of it. Many scripts have been written and scrapped, and it seemed for some time that the project was dead.
However, in light of the success of Marvel's Avengers movie, DC and Warners have decided to work on the JLA project again. Christopher Nolan, long said to be attached to the project, will not be on board. Zack Snyder has been posited as the most likely director, with David Goyer writing the script.
The JLA film is now set to be a third sequel to Man of Steel, and Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Gal Gadot are all said to be attached to the project. No word yet on which other JLA heroes will be included, or who will portray them.
Nothing DC is talking about can rival the scheduled upcoming Marvel movies. They are just so far behind.
That said, Warner Brothers has confirmed that the sequel to 2013's Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman, will be released on May 6th, 2016, after many delays and script issues. Zack Snyder will be returning to direct, and he is writing the script with David S. Goyer.
After initially suggesting that the film would be an adaptation of Frank Miller's comic The Dark Knight Returns, Snyder has revealed that such an adaptation would require a complete reboot of Superman to fit in.
Instead, Batman's character will be changed from what we see in the Christopher Nolan films to fit with this storyline. It will therefore take place in a different universe than the Batman movies.
Henry Cavill will return as Superman, and (ahem) Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman. Perhaps DC has forgotten fans' reaction to Affleck's Daredevil. Ridiculous casting? Perhaps.
In January of 2014, it was announced that Jesse Eisenberg had been cast as Lex Luthor, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. Sublime casting? We think so. Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman, which gives the film the opportunity to lead to a Justice League of America movie as a sequel...
DC's Patchy History
DC Comics didn't got into the movie game with two Batman serials in the 1940s. Both were released in 15 chapters by Columbia Pictures, and both are probably best forgotten.
DC wouldn't make a superhero film with legs until 1951's Superman vs. the Mole Men, which, oddly enough, was the pilot for the Superman TV show starring George Reeves that would air from 1952-1958. It was made by the now-defunct Lippert Pictures.
DC's "golden age" of film began with the late-'70s/early-'80s Superman film franchise. DC stalled a bit with Swamp Thing and Supergirl, but came back strong with the Batman film franchise of the late-'80s and early-'90s. Most DC comic adaptations have been made by the film division of Warner Brothers, DC's parent company.
Superhero movies have come a long way since the early days of Superman, Batman, and Captain America serials in the 1940s. Heck, they've come a long way since the 1970s and '80s Superman movies and all the '80s and '90s Batman films.
The market is there for upcoming Marvel movies, plus whatever DC gets round to, and the audiences are willing to buy tickets. There is no end in sight to this trend, and comic fans around the world are being cinematically satisfied as never before.
In a way, we are living in a Golden Age for superhero films. Here's hoping it lasts longer than the Golden Age of comics did.
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