We all love superhero movies right? I mean, you clicked on this post, so I can only assume that’s true, unless you actually hate superhero movies and are only clicking on this to leave an angry comment about it, in which case, suck it up buttercup!
Amongst multimedia trends, Superhero movies are pretty unique because they aren’t restricted by the same genre limitations as westerns or horror movies. While The Avengers, The Dark Knight and Kick Ass are all technically part of the same “genre” you’d be hard pressed to point out that many similarities beyond the fact that they are all wearing garish outfits and punching each other.
As a medium, Superhero movies present a near limitless canvas for storytelling, yet still are subjected to the same tired complaints from old-guard film journalists that “they are all the same” and are somehow artistically bankrupt. This complaints persist, even though Avengers: Age of Ultron had one of the most nuanced presentations of the ethical implications of AI in the medium and The Dark Knight is the most convincing argument for Bush-era anti-terrorism tactics I’ve ever seen. I still disagree, but a good argument is a good argument, and if the Republican Party incorporated Batman into their rhetoric more often they would probably do better in the next election (I am available as a campaign consultant by the way, and will accept payment in sexual favours from Fox News Anchors.)
As well as the vast artistic opportunity superhero movies present, they are also very, very lucrative. 3 of the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time are superhero movies (4 if, like me you consider Frozen a really convoluted prequel to the X Men series) and Marvel Studios have yet to release a movie that wouldn’t be considered a huge hit by any other studio. It’s rather telling that Ant Man was considered to be the “death knell” of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe with an opening domestic weekend pull of “only” $57,225,526. Despite this, many online press outlets declared it a failure, with Whatculture declaring it dead in the water before it was even released!
The reasons for this are quite simple. Many film journalists are sick of talking about Superhero films, and terrified of the threat of obsolescence that they represent. After all, when the intern who grew up reading Marvel comics has already drafted a 1200 word think-piece on the larger political questions behind Captain America: Civil War while you are still on the phone to the research department trying to find out just who the hell this “Black Panther” guy everyone is suddenly talking about is, it’ll quickly become clear to the editor which of the two of you is the better long term investment.
Because of this, old guard film journalists will jump on any, any excuse to write a mountain of prose about how Superheroes are, like totally last year (kids still talk like that right?)
“We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.”
These comments were furiously reblogged by every news outlet out there with all the ferocity, passion and confusion of a 14 year old boy masturbating to a picture of that one aunt who’s tits haven’t drooped to her knee’s yet (we all did that right? right?).
Here’s the thing, he’s totally wrong. For starters, the Western analogy is far from apt. Even if he’s right, Westerns were the dominant genre of film for over 50 years, the Superhero boom has (debatably) only been going on for around 17, since the release of Blade in 1998 after the last time Superhero movies “died” which was… a year before that, when Batman and Robin came out and everyone in Hollywood lost their minds in the great cocaine drought of ’97.
Plus, Westerns didn’t “die out” because audiences got tired of them, Westerns “died out” because the post-John Wayne generation had a problem with the real life ethical implications attached to that period in history. Superhero movies don’t have that problem (at least until real life science gives us all superpowers, but by then we won’t need movies because we’ll be too busy flying).
And even then, the whole concept of Pop Culture properties dying out has basically died out itself thanks to teh internets (that’s how young people say it film journalists!). in 2017, we are getting a big budget Power Rangers movie, written by the people who wrote X Men: First Class, a legitimate, good movie! Hollywood is throwing actual writing talent at a POWER RANGERS MOVIE! Thanks to the Internet constantly rediscovering, deconstructing, and reconstructing franchises, if something is popular it will never, ever truly die.
Star Wars is a great example, while it never really “died” the last truly great movie was in 1983 (or 1980 if you are kind of a snob) in Christmas we are getting a new Star Wars movie, and it legitimately looks great. Star Wars WILL take over the world again in 2016, even if it’s a critical failure. There is going to be a new Star Wars movie every year until the heat death of the Universe, or until the Aliens come and wipe us out for being such colossal dicks to the Dolphins…
…whichever comes first.
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Fancy getting caught up with the latest superhero trend? The Flash is out on DVD now. Simply click the picture below to check it out. And if you buy it, we get a little commission, yay!