The superhero boom has been ongoing for over 20 years and shows no signs of stopping, but the fad that turned comic book adaptations into Hollywood’s most popular and lucrative genre can be traced back to three movies in particular.
There’s Stephen Norrington’s Blade, which often gets unfairly overlooked in this particular conversation, Bryan Singer’s X-Men, and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, all of which arrived between 1998 and 2002. While the latter may have earned almost four times as much at the box office, it was the former that set the template the genre would adhere to for the rest of the decade.
One man who knows an awful lot about both properties is Tom Rothman, who was head of Fox when Singer was shepherding X-Men into production, but now acts as the top dog at Sony, which has just seen Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home top a billion dollars in eleven days. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the longtime studio executive admitted he was jealous of what Raimi and Amy Pascal managed to accomplish back in 2002.
“I was green with envy. We had made X-Men. And X-Men sort of got it started, and then Amy was at Sony and she topped us. So luckily, she’s still here making it happen.”
Now that he’s in charge at Sony, Rothman can do whatever he wants with Spider-Man moving forward, while the X-Men now belong to his creative collaborator Kevin Feige’s Marvel Studios, because it’s a funny old business like that sometimes.