Steven Spielberg, perhaps the biggest and most sought-after director of all time, does not have high hopes for the future of the seemingly unstoppable genre of superhero movies.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Steven Spielberg expanded on his statement two years ago that mega-budget films are going to "implode" Hollywood. When asked if he still feels that way, Spielberg said:
I do. I still feel that way. 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.
Spielberg isn't flat-out predicting the death of the superhero movie. On the other hand, he is saying that the theory of diminishing returns will soon come into effect and put the superhero genre on Hollywood's backburner for a while.
Back in the mid-1900s, the Western genre was as common and popular as the superhero genre is today. Films like A Fistful of Dollars and Shane dominated the box office for decades. On the other hand, sometime in the 1970s is when less Western films were being made, as Hollywood veered towards more modern productions.
Much like the western, there are quite a lot of superhero films being put out by studios these days. In 2016 alone, we'll be seeing Deadpool, Batman V. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad (though it is debatable if that one is a superhero film) and Doctor Strange.
While Spielberg does make an interesting analogy, there are still a few things to take into account. While many critics have argued out that the light-hearted and witty tone of the Marvel movies is getting repetitive, many of the upcoming superhero films (including the Marvel movies) show signs of mixing things up.
The DC Cinematic Universe promises a darker tone with films like Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad, helping their movies appeal to audiences who generally aren't fans of the Marvel movies.
Moreover, under the direction of horror director Scott Derrickson, Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange movie shows signs of being Marvel's darkest film yet. Doctor Strange is a much more surreal and edgy character in Marvel's lineup, so fans of the horror genre could get behind it even if they don't favor Marvel movies.
In the words of Black Widow though: "nothing lasts forever." As actors get older and storylines come to a close, we may end up coming to a time when Hollywood takes a break from the superhero genre and focuses on something else.
On the bright side, even if Hollywood does end up taking a break from superhero films, it's pretty much impossible to kill off an entire genre. Spielberg himself acknowledged that in recent years, the Western is making a comeback. With upcoming films like The Hateful Eight and The Magnificent Seven, the Western is far from dead. By this logic, even if the superhero genre does fall into a slump, it can make an excellent comeback. For now though, only time will tell when/if Spielberg's theory comes into effect.