The History Of Marvel Superhero Movies, In Pictures

So you thought Chris Evans was the first guy to bring Captain America to life onscreen? Then you're not giving proper credit to Dick Purcell, my friend. Superheroes on screen may feel like a modern phenomenon, and they're definitely more profitable now than they've ever been, but the first time a Marvel superhero was captured on film was way back in 1944, when Captain America starred in his own 15-chapter serial film-- and spent much more time standing in fancily appointed living rooms than the current version does, as you can see in the above photo.

That image kicks off a photo gallery from The Guardian that runs down the history of Marvel superheroes on film, and points out the remarkable fact that it was a 40-year gap between that first film version of Cap and the next film based on a Marvel movie, Howard the Duck. A notorious flop, Howard could have easily been the end of comic book adaptations on film-- but of course, it was only the beginning. The rest of the slideshow digs into more recent history that you're probably familiar with, but is interesting to see onscreen nonetheless. Blade, of all things, was the first comic book franchise to become a hit in the modern era-- remarkable given how much hand-wringing we now do about ever featuring another black superhero. The low-budget 1994 Roger Corman version of The Fantastic Four was only a decade removed from the Jessica Alba-fronted 2004 version, but that decade might as well have been a lifetime. And speaking of The Fantastic Four, we really haven't talked enough recently about how totally weird it is that Chris Evans is both the Human Torch and Captain America. Maybe the upcoming new take on the characters will help ease that weirdness, but we will Never Forget.

The slideshow leaves off with the next Marvel movie on the docket, Thor: The Dark World, which is probably of special interest to the Brits at The Guardian since it was filmed there. But, of course, the future of Marvel movies in the next five years alone is probably as complicated as the last 80 years combined. After Thor we'll get the return of Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier next April, followed in August by Guardians of the Galaxy, now filming in England. Though he's not owned by Marvel Studios, Spider-Man will be back next year too in The Amazing Spider-Man 2-- and two more planned sequels after that. After that the future gets a little hazier-- we've got The Avengers: Age of Ultron coming for sure, that aforementioned Fantastic Four reboot, talk of Ant-Man and Doctor Strange movies, and probably limitless other options after that. We're a long way from Howard the Duck, people.

Katey Rich

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend