Hello friends! I have a quick question for you. Do you enjoy these things: superheroes, movies, commercials, and math? Well, if you answered "yes" to at least ONE of those, then by all means continue. If you answered "no," then by all means continue, since you want to support me regardless :) I am going to take an in depth look at the upcoming superhero landscape, and the reason why it seems like that’s all there is when we go to the theater.
This past October, both Marvel and DC released their respective movie times for the foreseeable future. DC released theirs at an investor’s meeting, using this graphic:
There are some Lego and Harry Potter movies mixed into the graphic, but the main focus is on the ten movies DC has slated for release by the year 2020.
Not to be outdone, Marvel took things a step further. They held a special press event at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. Going over the top, as only Marvel can do, they released THIS image:
As if that wasn’t enough to get fans excited, they also brought out Captain America and Iron Man…
…to introduce the world to the Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman.
That’s quite a lot of movies coming out from the two major players. What I have shown so far doesn’t take into consideration the Fantastic Four and X-Men franchises at 20th Century Fox, or the Spider-Man Franchise at Sony. Adding in these variables, we get a calendar that looks like this:
Wow. Quite a bit. 39 movies in total. 39. Firefly only had 14 episodes. Hell, Star Wars only has 9 movies (when spin-offs ACTUALLY start happening, I will discuss them). What is also fascinating is that this calendar spans only six years. To put it in perspective, between 1989 and 1997, only four superhero movies were released theatrically, all revolving around the same character, Batman. Then, we got one in 1998 (Blade) and one in 2000 (X-Men).
It wasn’t until 2002 that we started getting superhero movies with some sort of frequency with the release of the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man. At that point, we were getting maybe one or two a year. Then in 2008 the landscape changed to what it is today when Marvel Films took a huge risk with 2008’s Iron Man. The phenomenal and unexpected success of this film is what led to the entertainment landscape we see today. One film in 2002 to 39 films over the next six years.
The debate I have seen occur a lot over the last month or so is whether or not this is too much. With all these films coming out, are movie goers going to become so exhausted that they eventually revolt? The answer is simple…
Wait for it…
We are not being "bombarded" with superhero movies. Sure, there are more being released than ever before, but it is not a “saturation” of the movie market, as some people may think it is. Let’s do some of that math I mentioned earlier and figure out why.
The above image is the Entertainment Weekly summer movie preview (these preview issues are one of my favorite things ever, especially the calendar/checklist). On the cover are the stars of [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942). I want to point out the number in the top right-hand corner: 105. That’s the number of movies that were released between May and August of 2014: 105.
If you read through this issue (like I did from cover to cover :) ) you noticed that out of those 105 movies, only FOUR were superhero movies. They were: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That means 101 other movies came out during that four month period. For those of you not math savvy, 96.1% of the movies released last summer were not based on a superhero. Now let’s take that math even further. We will use the EW issue as a base:
105 movies came out in four months.
By multiplying that by three, we have approx. 315 movies coming out in 12 months.
Now, we take that 315 and multiply it by six. That comes out to 1890.
So ROUGHLY, between now and 2020, 1890 movies will be released.
The infographic I presented showed that 39 comic book based movies will come out between now and 2020.
That means 2% of the movies coming out between now and 2020 will be comic-book based.
2%. That’s it. For every 100 movies released, two of them are from a comic book. That leaves 98 other movies, whether it’s comedy, drama, action, etc. to choose from.
So if it’s not the quantity of movies coming out that are giving people that feeling of “saturation,” then what’s the cause? The answer can be summed up (using wit, I mind you) with this video:
So why does it feel like there are so many superhero movies?
MARKETING. It’s not that the studios are throwing superhero after superhero after superhero at us. It’s THAT THEY WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT THEM!!!
I remember when the 1989 Batman movie was first announced. We as fans could not WAIT to see footage. The trailer was finally released, but we had to be home at a certain time just to catch it on an episode of Entertainment Tonight. YouTube wasn’t even an idea yet. Today, we get trailers, we get teaser trailers, we get TEASERS FOR THE TEASERS. About a month ago, I couldn’t go five minutes on the internet without some page I was on reminding me that the new Avengers trailer was going to premiere after [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) Not the movie, just the PREVIEW for the movie. Yes, it was awesome, but that’s beside the point.
We live in a VERY different world that we did in 1989. Hell, we live in a different world than we did in 2002. When 2020 comes around, I will say the same thing about 2014. It’s not that movies have changed, but rather how we are told about them. We can still get excited about movies. It just takes a little more effort, since no one will let us forget that movies are coming out, whether it’s next month, next year, or next decade.
Will this eventually cost the movie studios an audience?
Now that we have determined where the saturation is coming from, the next question to ask is: Will this eventually cost the movie studios an audience? Will we eventually get so sick of all the commercials and tie-ins that we boycott these films out of some sort of spite? The answer is in the hands of the creative minds behind these films. The Joss Whedons, the James Gunns, and the Zack Snyders of the world are the ones that have the power to control that. If we keep receiving movies like [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](movie:254973) and Guardians of the Galaxy, then the genre is going to be as strong as ever. If we get a movie such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was more of a way to move Spidey merchandise than anything else, then it could spell the end for these superhero films (I didn’t personally have the outrage over [The Amazing Spider-Man 2](movie:508593) that a lot of people had, but to say I didn’t see the problems would be ridiculous).
So I feel that as long as the marketing is there to support the movie, and not the other way around, we will be in for an enjoyable 6 years, regardless of how many fast food restaurants our heroes want us to frequent. Here’s hoping the current pattern sticks. I have been waiting for a time like this my entire life, so until proven otherwise, my faith will remain strong. With that, we now have less than five months until the next round of movies start. I’ll get the ball rolling with…AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!!
Originally published on my blog, dtrainofthought.com