How Brits CAPE-tured The Comic Book Industry

Superheroes make the world a better place. They rescue us from evil-doers. They make wearing spandex socially acceptable. And everyone loves them! Ahead of Baltimore Comic-Con, we take a look at how “positively British” the comic industry is!

Though the UK accounts for less than 1% of the world’s population, it has one of the largest creative sectors in the world. Hollywood flocks to the UK for great comic book innovators, film-making talent and stunning locations: for example, HBO’s Game of Thrones was filmed at the Paint Hall in Belfast (one of Europe’s largest and most advanced studios) and amid the rugged Northern Irish countryside. A large portion of Thor: The Dark World was filmed in London and across the UK. The UK’s impact on the arts worldwide is simply brilliant.

2. The Watchmen

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The Watchmen, often hailed as the greatest graphic novel of all time, was written by British writer Alan Moore, drawn by British artist Dave Gibbons. It was named one of Time’s 100 All Time Greatest Novels in 2005, the only graphic novel to appear on the list. The stars of the film adaptation included British actor Matthew Goode.

3. The Sandman

British comic book legend Neil Gaiman originally published his classic series The Sandman between 1989 and 1996. The Sandman: Endless Nights was the first graphic novel ever to appear on the New York Times bestseller list (another famous graphic novel to appear on that list was Watchmen.)

BONUS FACT: Gaiman also wrote the Doctor Who episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ with Matt Smith as the Doctor. The episode won both a Hugo and a Ray Bradbury award.

4. V for Vendetta

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Alan Moore’s other great success came in the form of V for Vendetta drawn by British artist David Lloyd. The graphic novel and film made the famous Guy Fawkes mask iconic. V for Vendetta was partially filmed in the UK and stared UK talent such as Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Roger Allam, and many others. Speaking of Fawkes, we still remember him fondly each 5th of November, when we burn him in effigy to mark his failed attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605.

5. The Dark Knight Trilogy

The Batman comic books are some of the most popular in American comic book history and the recent adaptation of the Batman/Bruce Wayne storyline has received international critical acclaim. But some of the main players in this trilogy are not from Gotham City, or even the United States. In fact, many of them hail from Dear Old Blighty!

Like this chap, for instance. His gruff vocal delivery coupled with his suave-yet-emotionally-damaged take on billionaire Bruce Wayne made Christian Bale, for our money, the definitive Batman. Bale was born in Haverfordwest, Wales.

The series opened with Bruce Wayne’s enigmatic mentor, and later nemesis. Ra’ al Ghul, whose influence stretched across all three films, was played by Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson.

Aiding and abetting Batman through all three movies was the justice-driven and corruption-proof Commissioner Jim Gordon, played by London native Gary Oldman.

Unfortunately, we can’t claim Aussie Heath Ledger, whose creepy portrayal of the Joker stole the second film, The Dark Knight. But in the final instalment, audiences were thrilled by Tom Hardy’s oddly high-pitched, but somehow perfectly delivered, Bane. Hardy, another London-born actor, modeled his interpretation of Bane’s voice on the bare-knuckled Irish fighter and Romani gypsy Bartley Gorman (1944-2002), who was undefeated in both Ireland and the UK.

The only British actor who got to keep his accent in these films (and what an accent it is!) was Bruce Wayne’s steadfast guardian, Alfred, played by Michael Caine.

Finally, this remarkable series (and countless remarkable memes like the one above) would not have been possible without the creative genius of the British filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who conceptualized, wrote and directed the entire series.

11. Man of Steel

In the recently released Superman reboot, Man of Steel, Clark Kent is played by English actor Henry Cavill.

BONUS FACT: Christopher Nolan, the British creator of the Dark Knight trilogy, was also a contributing writer to Man of Steel.

12. Marvel’s The Avengers

The Avengers series combines several different superheroes and plot lines across the Marvel universe, including Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and others. Not only are many actors throughout these movies British, large portions of these movies were also filmed in the UK.

London-born Tom Hiddleston has played Thor’s brother Loki, a greasy-haired villain with some serious daddy issues, in Thor, The Avengers and the upcoming Thor: The Dark World. This Fall, he can be seen on PBS as King Henry V in the BBC’s The Hollow Crown, a series of Shakespeare adaptations.

And the aforementioned daddy, Odin, is played by Oscar-winning British actor Anthony Hopkins in Thor and Thor: The Dark World. The film’s other “villain” The Mandarin (pictured) was played by British actor Ben Kingsley, another Oscar-winner.

The Avengers’ richest and most sarcastic member, Tony Stark (Iron Man), faced off against Brit Guy Pearce in this summer’s Iron Man 3.

And what would Tony Stark do without his quick-witted and omnipresent Jarvis? Stark’s artificially intelligent butler/companion is voiced by British actor Paul Bettany in all three Iron Man movies and The Avengers.

15. The Spider-Man franchises

In the Toby Maguire-headlined Spider-Man movies released in the early 2000s, Peter Parker’s surrogate mother Aunt May was played by Suffolk-born Rosemary Harris.

In Spider-Man 2, Parker’s hero-turned-nemesis Dr. Otto Octavius was played by British actor Alfred Molina.

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In the new Spider-Man franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker is played by Andrew Garfield. Although Garfield was born in Los Angeles, his mother is British. He was raised in Surrey and holds dual citizenship.

17. X-Men

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A total of four different actors play the characters Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier in the series and the prequel. Three of the four are from the UK, and two are Knights of the Realm!

Via gph.is

Sir Patrick Stewart plays Professor X in X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, Origins: Wolverine, and The Wolverine.

Glasgow-born actor James McAvoy plays a younger Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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Repeatedly facing off with the X-Men is Professor X’s former best friend Eric Lehnsherr (Magneto), played by Sir Ian McKellan.

20. Guardians of the Galaxy

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The Guardians of The Galaxy comic was created by the 1969 team of Americans Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, then revisted in 2008 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, both Brits The film version, to be released in 2014, is filming at Shepperton Studios in the UK, and includes UK talent such as Karen Gillan (aka Amy Pond in Doctor Who)! A dedicated actress, she even shaved her head for her new role!

21. Baltimore Comic-Con is THIS WEEKEND!

UKinUSA Flickr / Via Flickr: ukinusa

We’re pretty excited to swoop in this weekend! Last year was our first at Baltimore’s comic-con and we cant wait to do it again!

22. Thanks for the GREAT comics!

Don’t forget to thank your local British person for the countless hours of entertainment British culture has provided. Go on, it’ll embarrass them.

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