Recently, Steven Spielberg (Duel, Jurassic Park) stated that Superhero movies will one day be non-existent and will "go the way of westerns." However, I disagree. Superhero films and television programs have been airing since before the second world war (Batman:1930's) and will more than likely be showing at the end. Why is this a definite you ask? Because we are humans; and we, being part of that race, are constantly looking to become better versions of ourselves.
When you show a small child superman for the first time, they will look for the first red sheet from the cupboard and stick it in their collar and fly around the house claiming to be their newly found idol. But what is it that makes them do that? Well it is the fact that Superman—part alien-part man—can fly, shoot lasers out of his eyes and has incredible strength. The one aspect we are drawn to though, out of that small list, is the flying. Not because we want to be birds but rather we recognize that there is no way we can actually do it and if we could, we would be superhuman; we would be special. (Shooting lasers out of eyes isn't as appealing, and rarely demonstrated). Subconsciously, that child just knows that he can't jump up and stay afloat and so he takes an interest in the superhero genre to see what other powers are out of his reach.
So what is trying to be said? The superhero 'genre' will survive and will more than likely thrive for many years to come. Why? Because of the humanity within the content.
Batman will always be more popular than Superman. Iron Man will always be more popular than Thor. One is a rich man who puts on a suit and fights the bad guys, another is a demi-god who uses his 'powers' or 'gifts.' Our humanity recognizes this difference and realises that we technically have the ability to do the same thing—albeit never dying. Batman films or films with Batman in them have always been more popular and anticipated than any other film. Why? Because he is an iconic and frankly, he's Batman.
What made Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy so amazing was that they focused on the development of Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne which then in turn, developed the character of Batman. It wasn't Batman's struggle against the evils in Gotham. It was the triumph over trials of the man behind the mask. Similarly, amongst the negative reviews surrounding the recent Avengers: Age of Ultron, the positive points all related to the fact that there was such a brilliant development of the human aspects of the team rather than just all of them in suits 'kapowing' the bad guys. There was tension. There was mistrust. There was fear. These are things that we, common man, encounter every day.
Philosophical aspects aside, what is better than having your favourite comic book hero come to life on the big screen? Anticipating, debating and/or hating the iteration of the character you loved dearly. There will be the hate for certain versions of a movie (Hulk, Daredevil) but one thing is sure, there will certainly be a revival and reboot at some point in time. Your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman will have had 3 movie reboots within 20 years. The last two have had critical acclaim at some point within their series. It doesn't necessarily have to be a great movie for people to like it. If it's Spiderman, children will want to watch it. They won't care who is acting. They certainly won't care what the story is. They will see their web-slinging buddy in the theatres. It's another cherry to the cake. And for us grown-up nerds, I can safely say that we will more than likely always go and watch a Marvel film in the theatres, and follow the DC universe, whether we are an incredible fan or not. They are comic-book movies. Superheroes. People will watch them. They just will. Whether or not you want to take that as a good writing practise for evidence, it's fact.
The recent Fantastic Four movie was a failure and in my eyes—terrible. But critics always thought the originals were as well. But lo and behold, people still went to the movies to watch this new one, and nerds will definitely watch it. Whether they like it or not. It is comic-book material.
I will agree with Spielberg with this simple fact. The love of the comic book movie will fluctuate. But it shall certainly not become 'non-existent.' And I completely understand if he believes that some story arcs will become non-existent in theatres—A.K.A Fantastic Four—but I can safely say, based on our own humanity and love of comic book movies, that the genre will not become extinct within the next few years.
SIDE NOTE: A perfect example of this, using another genre, is the latest Jurassic Park film. A terrible film by all standards. A very poor addition to the franchise, however it broke many records at the box-office and is receiving a sequel. Why? It's name. Children will watch it because of Dinosaurs. Adults will watch it because they grew up with the original. Even if they want to go and watch it, just to criticize it; they will go. And they will watch.