I saw the news this morning that another Hollywood director had criticism for Marvel movies. Roland Emmerich, the director of such cinematic masterpieces as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, voiced his concern about cinematic universes when he said, “Oh yes, because naturally Marvel and DC Comics, and Star Wars, have pretty much taken over. It’s ruining our industry a little bit, because nobody does anything original anymore.”
I would like to now direct everyone’s attention to the painting at the top of this post. You might recognize the figure at the top as one Jesus Heathcliffe Christ, and in it, he is passing his last judgment on the world. It is a scene out of the book of Revelations. It is also a scene that can be found on many alter pieces and as relief carvings over cathedral doors throughout Europe.
If you have ever sat through an art history class or walked through the Medieval and Renaissance section of an art museum you are aware that most of those paintings are either Jesus, Saints, or other scenes from the bible.
In many folklore traditions, there are ages. The age of gods, the age of heroes, and the age of man. Think of the stories of the ancient Greeks. they progress from the tales of Zeus and his fellow Olympians battling the Titans to the stories of Heracles, Jason, and Theseus to the battle of Troy.
These stories are produced in plays, poems, songs, carvings, and pottery. Unlike the comic books of today we do not know the original source but what is the difference between the battle between Hector and Achilles and the lightsaber battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader?
The epics of Homer or the plays of Aeschylus were the Marvel, DC, and Star Wars movies of their time. They were meant to entertain crowds and bring pleasure to the masses. The religious art of the Medieval and Renaissance periods was displayed in the place people were most likely to gather, church.
Some of the people we consider the most creative artists, musicians, sculptors, poets, and playwrights of any age exclusively drew inspiration from the Bible or mythology. There is little difference in those works as there are in our modern art forms of Marvel, DC, and Star Wars movies.
Some might think I am insane comparing Michelangelo, Homer, Euripides, and other great artists of the past to James Gunn, The Russo Brothers, and Jon Favreau but what were they doing other than drawing inspiration from the stories of their time and depicting them in a different medium?