Superhero Hype’s Biggest Milestones of 2001-2021: #20-16
Twenty years ago this month, Spider-Man Hype became Superhero Hype. And in the last two decades, the entertainment landscape has dramatically changed. Superhero films used to be rare, while sci-fi and fantasy weren’t exactly mainstream. Now, our favorite genres are dominating the streaming era, and superhero movies are the biggest blockbusters. To celebrate our anniversary, Superhero Hype is looking back at the biggest milestones of the last twenty years. These are the events and stories that paved the way for everything we have today. To kickoff the countdown, here are our picks for #20-16. Superhero Hype’s Biggest Milestones
20: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Director Peter Jackson fought for years to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings on the big screen. And in December 2001, The Fellowship of the Ring kicked off the LOTR trilogy. It was an immediate blockbuster that erased all doubts about the viability of fantasy. The Two Towers was also a massive success in 2002, but the biggest film of the trilogy was Return of the King. That movie pulled of the impressive feat of winning 11 Academy Awards, including Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.
In retrospect, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar’s “no tights, no flights” mandate may not have been the best idea. However, no one can argue that Smallville wasn’t a massive success. The Superman prequel series ran for ten seasons, and yet still couldn’t get Tom Welling into the full costume by the end of its run. Regardless, it did prove that there was a huge demand for superhero shows on TV. There wouldn’t be an Arrowverse without Smallville. And the legacy of this show is the reason why The CW has more superhero series than it knows what to do with.
18: The Resurrection of Star Trek
J.J. Abrams’ films inspire, shall we say, “strong opinions.” No matter what you think about his movies or the man himself, keep this in mind: by 2009, Star Trek was essentially dead in the water. UPN cancelled Star Trek: Enterprise four years earlier, which broke an 18-year run on TV that began with Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Star Trek reboot film reignited interest in the franchise, even though many Trek purists dislike it. Star Trek Into Darkness was an even bigger hit, although Star Trek Beyond stumbled at the box office. That’s why there hasn’t been another Trek film since. But by then, Star Trek: Discovery was in the works for CBS All Access/Paramount+. Now, there’s no less than five current and upcoming Star Trek shows on Paramount+. It wouldn’t have happened if the reboot hadn’t been a success.
17: The Dark Knight Trilogy
Can you believe that at the turn of the century, Batman & Robin was the most recent film in this franchise? That horrifying misstep kept Batman off of the big screen for almost a decade. Fortunately, director Christopher Nolan was hired to breathe new life into Bruce Wayne’s alter ego. In 2005, Batman Begins redefined what superhero cinema could be. Then in 2008, The Dark Knight pushed Batman even further with one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. While The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t quite as good as its predecessors, the Dark Knight trilogy are by far the best live-action Batman films to date. The Batman has the unenviable task of trying to live up to these movies. But we won’t know how it stacks up until next March.
16: The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy Ends
While the Star Wars prequel trilogy began in 1999, it didn’t come to a close until Revenge of the Sith opened in 2005. According to George Lucas at the time, this was going to be the final Star Wars film. Of course, it wasn’t. But it was the end of an era, and the last Star Wars movie directed by Lucas himself. Time has not been very kind to this closing chapter, even though Star Wars: The Clone Wars did a lot to redeem the prequel era. As an event unto itself, this was still one of the most momentous chapters in the history of Star Wars.
We’ll be running down our picks for Superhero Hype’s Biggest Milestones #15-11 tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to share your opinions below! Superhero Hype’s Biggest Milestones.