36 movies in five years. Seven series' on your TV. Your local stores are flooded with their merchandise. Whether you love them or you hate them, you can't deny that superhero movies are what's best for business.
When I was growing up, reading comics was thought of as 'uncool' and you would be ridiculed if you wanted to dress up as your favourite superhero for Halloween. Fast forward to 2015 and superheroes have taken over. It is now cool to read comics and you will be lucky if your favourite superheroes costume isn't sold out for Halloween! So what has changed?
The 'Golden Age' of Superhero Movies
Growing up, we had to deal with movies such as Steel, Judge Dredd and Batman and Robin. It wasn't until Sam Raimi's Spider-Man where I experienced a true ground breaking Superhero movie. Then came Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins and X:2 and superhero movies were beginning to pick up pace, the quality was improving with each movie, Spider-Man 2 and X:2 greatly improved on their already perfect predecessors, and Batman Begins reinvented the world's image of Batman. Then they ran out of steam. The third of a trilogy curse plagued the Spider-Man and X-men franchises and set a domino effect for all superhero movies. We were stuck with critical and commercial failures such as Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider and Elektra.
Then came the summer of 2008. Iron Man the film that kick-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the biggest film franchise of all time, and The Dark Knight, arguably one of the greatest films of all time, were released a few months apart from each other. That summer set the ground for a worldwide phenomenon. Fast forward 7 years and superhero movies have grossed over $14 billion at the worldwide box office.
Superhero movies have captivated audience around the globe. Whether it's realising childhood dreams, bringing your favourite comic book moments to life or simply delivering an unforgettable experience, fans will flock by the dozen just to be in line for a superhero movie. But you can't have all this success without a few enemies...
Is this the death of superhero movies?
In light of their overwhelming success, many critics have came forward and compared the rise of superhero to the fall of the western. Academy Award winning director and producer Steven Spielberg has even predicted that demand for superhero films will decline. Speaking to The Associated Press on the subject of the Hollywood's over-reliance on big budget blockbusters, Spielberg stated;
"We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western."
Will superhero fatigue begin to kick in? Batman vs Superman director Zack Snyder certainly thinks so. Addressing Spielberg's claims in an interview with Yahoo, the Watchmen director admitted;
"He [Spielberg] might not be wrong. I think it puts more pressure on us, the filmmakers, to not just crank out superhero movies for the sake of it."
They aren't wrong, whether it is 5 months, year or decades away, the fall of the superhero film franchise will come. That is if fans become tired of them. Listen to Zack Snyder, if you crank out a film no one wanted, no one will see it. Pour your time and effort into making a film that fans want, then you have a success on your hands. Take Fantastic Four and Deadpool for example. Fox created Fantastic Four just so they could keep the film rights to the titular team. The film bombed simply because no one wants a Fantastic Four reboot from Fox. Then came Deadpool. The company gave the creative team total control, they listened to fans, let Ryan Reynolds be himself and now they have a massive hit. If you listen to fans, you will have a fan service for many years to come. Make one for the sake of it and people get bored and say "Ohh, there's that Ghost Rider sequel no one ever asked for."
While many fans fear the fall of the superhero movie, some are counting down the days. Many believe that over saturation will kill the superhero movement, and blame them for the lack of original movies. Jack Black famously berated superhero movies at the Oscars Dan Gilroy, director of Nightcrawler, slammed superhero movies for almost killing off Independent films. While accepting the award for Best First Feature at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards, Gilroy said;
"Independent film, the foundation and everybody here today, I think are holdouts against a tsunami of superhero movies that have swept over this industry. We have survived and we have thrived and I think that's true spirit."
This goes back to what Snyder said, you can't make a superhero movie for the sake of it. Gilroy has got a point, there is no doubt that many films have been blacklisted due to a high budget superhero movie being the sole focus of a company. That gives no reason to blame the franchise though. High budget movies have existed well before superhero films became the new trend. If you have the option between putting your money into a film that is guaranteed to make at least $500 million, or a drama that would be lucky to make more than $100 million. Don't get me wrong, Gilroy is correct, and it pains me to see many movies remain on the blacklist, or bomb at the box office, but don't blame it on comic book adaptations simply because it's the trend.
Will superhero movies go the way of the Western?
There is no impending doom, they will not go the way of the western and they will not disappear. Unlike westerns, superhero movies have decades of fresh material to work from. They have a whole list of genres to play with, if one person doesn't like the political themes of Captain America: The Winter Solider, then they will like the comedic elements of [Ant-Man](tag:9048). Superhero movies are here to stay and if filmmakers have a problem with that...