Spider-Man 2, which opens this week, is just the latest comic book story to hit your local cineplex.

Comic book movies seem to be the hot ticket these days. In the last couple of years we've seen X-Men and The Hulk, Daredevil and Spider-Man, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hellboy and The Punisher, to name a few. It's Spidey 2 this week, and Catwoman later this summer. On the drawing board—no pun intended—are The Fantastic Four, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, The Flash, Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman and a handful of sequels—Spidey 3, Daredevil 2, X-Men 3. And the list keeps growing.

Why this sudden passion for comic book movies? Why are films about mutants, giant green behemoths and dark avengers suddenly as hot as the Human Torch?

The easy answer would be to say it's because now—with the advancement of computer graphic imaging (CGI) technology—we can finally do them right. And there's a lot to that argument. Remember all the hype surrounding 1978's Superman: The Motion Picture? "You will believe a man can fly." That movie broke box office records partly because after years of watching pudgy George Reeves pretend to whoosh over a grainy Metropolis, people couldn't wait to see Christopher Reeve accomplishing the real thing. And he did.

Now, a quarter of a century later, Hollywood's mantra is that all things are possible with CGI … and a lot of money. And the results can be jaw-dropping. Who could have predicted that the most fascinating figure in the Lord of the Rings trilogy would be a character that didn't even exist, except on a computer? And who wouldn't want to see those same special effects employed to bring their own childhood ...

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