American Television and the Explosion of the Superhero Genre
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The 2000s saw an explosion of comic-book movies, driven by the success of X-Men (Singer, 2000) and Spider-Man (Raimi, 2002). Aided by the huge success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ‒ many of these films are huge hits that cross multiple demographic lines ‒ the Hollywood film industry has taken something culturally niche and made it mainstream. Because of a contemporary inclination towards corporate synergy, media franchising, and serialization or sequelization, media conglomerates have increasingly sought to create synergies between comic books and their film and television divisions. The television business has started trying to capitalize on the perceived new golden age of comic-book properties, endeavouring to match the triumphs that these films have had and to take advantage of the success of models of transmedia storytelling and intertextuality. The expectation was that these new comic-book shows with their familiar heroes and/or brand names would quickly find a mass audience in a fragmented audience landscape where almost no new series manage to do so. In television, however, these comic-book shows are still very much a niche business.
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