With the success of DC's Wonder Woman and Marvel's annual superhero adventures that will culminate in next year's highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War, it seems like #superhero movies will be staying in cinemas for a quite a while. They have been the dominating genre in recent years, and consistently bring in large audiences that often go home satisfied. That being said, not everybody's enjoying the superhero craze right now - especially not legendary director, John Landis.
The director responsible for The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In London and many other popular movies has recently cited his disdain for the popular sub-genre, claiming that he is "bored shitless" by the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe.
John Landis Vs The "Interchangeable" Marvel Universe
During a sit-down interview with entertainment.ie, the celebrated director of Animal House didn't mince words when asked about his thoughts on the concept of shared cinematic universes. He opened by saying that the idea of a shared cinematic universe is not an inherently bad, as proven by Universal's original shared universe featuring classic monsters, but he criticized the Marvel Cinematic Universe (#MCU) for being repetitive.
"I'm just... truthfully, I'm bored shitless with the Marvel Universe now. All the superhero movies tend to be interchangeable, you always have these mass destruction of cities and huge computer-generated extravaganzas to the point where you could take a reel from any of the Marvel superhero movies and put it any of the others and nobody would notice. They're very well-made, it's just they're the same thing over and over again. But, I don't know, people are showing up."
In fairness to Landis, his scathing opinion is shared by some critics and fans, as a common complaint regarding Marvel movies (especially the origin movies) is how formulaic and derivative they are, despite changes in the detail and settings.
"One of the reasons 'Wonder Woman' has been received so well by the critics is that it doesn't destroy cities! Even the superhero stuff is on a very human scale, it's the gods! We're not seeing skyscrapers tumbling!"
Even if Wonder Woman followed the formula of a typical superhero origin story, it focused on character development rather than spectacle. Instead of trying to save the world from a representation of evil or an alien invasion, Diana (Gal Gadot) has to save humanity from itself and those who seek to take advantage of humanity's flaws. It seems that Landis prefers this grounded approach, and believes that this results in more interesting superhero adventures.
And John Landis Is Not Alone!
As expected, Landis' words sparked a heated debate online. Although his opinion resonated with some members of the movie-going audience, others pointed out some key differences between the MCU and the DCEU.
As you might expect, some chose to profusely defend the Disney-owned company and their superhero efforts. Despite his harsh words, the director likes a good superhero movie as much as anyone. Even if he's more critical about the genre's faults than some would expect, his praise for Wonder Woman proves that he's not simply looking to bash the genre as a whole.
Is Marvel Responding To This Ongoing Criticism?
Superhero movies still have a lot of untapped potential, and the next phase will hopefully rock the metaphorical boat as a bold response to these criticisms, which have circulated for years. Recently, Fox went against the mold with two R-rated hits, namely #Deadpool and #Logan. Meanwhile, the new teaser trailer for Marvel's #BlackPanther also promises a politically driven story that challenges the formulaic origin stories of previous superhero installments.
In fact, the creative team responsible for the movie have even explained why the King of Wakanda won't be getting a traditional origin story.
"What’s great is that people have already met Chadwick [Boseman] in 'Civil War', so now we get to jump in feet first without having to tell a more traditional origin story. We meet him as his world is changing."
"Black Panther takes place right after the events of 'Civil War', so T’Challa’s father has just been killed, he has returned home to Wakanda, and T’Challa has to navigate potentially becoming the new ruler of this nation. He never intended to become the king for years because he figured his dad would be around for a long time. T’Chaka’s death is, in a lot of ways, the catalyst for everything that’s happening in Black Panther." - Nate Moore, Producer
The financial success of Fox's R-Rated superhero movies and the hype surrounding Black Panther are proof that audiences are ready for a new kind of superhero movie that Landis may find enticing in the future. John Landis may have had some harsh words for one of the most popular franchises known to audiences, but they come from a place of tough love. Needless to say, Marvel will be doing everything in their power to prove naysayers wrong with their upcoming titles.
What do you think of John Landis' opinions? Do you agree or disagree with them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.