It’s hard to imagine a time without comic book movies, but in the late 1990s, the genre was out of favor in Hollywood. The then-latest Batman film (Batman & Robin) was a disaster, both for the studio and the character. Efforts to resurrect Superman were met with strange interpretations and development hell. And Marvel Entertainment was in the middle of a bankruptcy and restructuring.
Today, the comic book genre is a superfluous sector of film. It seems like not a year goes by without several comic book adaptations hitting the big screen. The major movie studios have caught on that comic books offer a rich history of compelling stories and characters. For years they had been written off as junk for the mind.
In 2000, the first X-Men film reinvigorated the genre by really calling back to the source material and understanding the comic’s thematic underpinnings. Director Bryan Singer gave humanity to inhuman characters, and made us pay attention. The first Spider-Man film, released two years later, solidified the genre’s grip in the world of film and pop culture.
However, there was another film that was released in 2000 that also made a significant mark on how we view comic book movies. If X-Men was the impetus for this current comic book film trend, and Spider-Man solidified it, Unbreakable gave it a soul.