WARNING! This article may contain spoilers regarding Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
Unless you've been comatose the past few weeks, you are probably aware that the long anticipated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was finally released in theaters. And unless said comatose is still plaguing you, there is a good chance you have heard that reaction to it is mixed to say the least. Currently rotten tomatoes has it sitting at an abysmal 29% rating. For reference, that is also the same rating Dumb and Dumber To.
Now I could sit here and talk about the lack of character motivations (what are those?) the bi-polar story structure (Love it! Hate it!), or the Crisis on Infinite Earth sized plot holes (Seriously, just think about the flash scene for 5 minutes, please). Thankfully, a kind soul already did that for me over at SlashFilm (for the curious: http://www.slashfilm.com/batman-v-superman-spoiler-review/2/). So today I am going to focus on an even bigger threat to the comic book movie universe than Thanos, Darkseid or Catwoman combined.
I am of course talking about the dreaded superhero fatigue. Now some have been arguing against this for quite sometime (http://www.ifc.com/2012/09/against-the-superhero-fatigue-argument). And I completely understand it. I myself grew up reading comics, watching it’s evolution from geek to chic has been something of a miracle to my 7 year old self. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would have gotten to see an actual Avengers movie on the big screen, let alone an entire universe like the one Marvel has built. Unfortunately, like Wall Street in the mid aughts, Hollywood has created quite a bubble with Superhero properties.
I know what you are thinking comic book movies and TV shows have been around forever While that may be true, up until the 2000’s, unless your name was Batman or Superman, people were not all that interested in what you had to offer. The masses were not exactly lining out the door to see the Hoff’s iconic take on Nick Fury despite how good he looked in that eye-patch. Ironically, this was also written by one of the men who brought us BvS.
It was only with the stellar, and then not so stellar X-men and Spiderman series, that people were able to forget about Joel Schumacher, doing his Joel Schumacher thing in our faces with Batman and Robin. Add in some Christopher Nolan “gritty reboot” stuff and you have a reawakening of comic book property interests. Yes, I do realize that David S. Goyer was also on the writing team of the Nolan Batman trilogy, however he only contributed to the script of the first, arguably weakest one. He maintains only story credit for the other two. And let’s be honest with ourselves, the other writer on Batman Begins penned Inception, while Goyer has Blade Trinity to his name. You know, the movie where Triple H had a vampire Pomeranian.
Superhero properties were still in short supply until 2008, when Iron Man was the first of any secondary character to have ever had any real mainstream success. Daredevil, and Ang Lee’s Hulk among others were both forgettable failures, and making a movie based on an unknown protagonist with nothing but a Black Sabbath song to his name seemed like risky business. It paid off in spades though, partially because it is one of the best superhero stories ever told, and partially because Samuel L. Jackson appeared at the end, and said “You think you’re the only superhero in the world”.
People were instantly hooked at the thought of superheros sharing a world together. It was an experiment that was thought impossible that turned out to be better than our wildest dreams and we have, soon to be 13 MCU movies to show for it, with a whole bunch more planned. And that’s only Marvel Studios, Fox has a slew of X-Men related titles on the pipeline, as well as Sony (for some god forsaken reason) planning a stand-alone Venom movie that is going to take place in a different universe from our newest rebooted Spider-Man (let the nerd rage flow through you: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/spider-man-spinoff-venom-revived-872844) . And just in case you couldn’t get enough, there is obviously the DCEU and their plans to flood your eyes with blockbuster fodder, as soon as they can finish squeezing out everything the HP world could possibly have to offer.
What does all of this have to do with BvS? And an impending bubble? Well as Marvel showed us, it is in fact possible to create a universe of shared characters and have them thrive in that space. What studio’s have gotten from this is that people want more and more superheroes and team-ups, and maybe that Calander man idea might actually work as long as we get someone who worked on the Dark Knight trilogy to pen it. There are notable exceptions, and I will cover that in a future article called, Deadpool Saves The Comic Universe, but other than the MCU, people don’t really care about a connective universe if there is no story to it. The moment that we heard Sam Jackson’s voice in Tony stark’s Mansion, we knew that was just the prologue to one gigantic arc. Call it the most expensive TV show to have ever been produced. The moment that Thanos drops to the floor dead at the end of Infinity War Part 2, we as an audience will let out a collective sigh of relief and go on our ways satisfied because we finally got the payoff to a story started over a decade prior.
By the time that rolls around, most if not all of the actors who were around from the beginning will have fulfilled their contracts, and will be on to greener pastures as they should, for both the actors and characters sakes. I highly doubt anyone would want to see a Commander Steve Rogers story in 2045. Meanwhile over in DC land, BvS has proven that you can’t throw together a universe based on what you think people might want to see. Just because you set up future movies, does not mean you are building a cohesive story. Look no further than Iron Man 2 for that one. The bubble will continue to grow with more and more money being thrown at comic book movies until one day Robert Downey Jr. is no longer Iron Man and people realize that it all started with that movie. Warner will feel this as they continue to let Zack Snyder near a camera and keep giving us crapfest after crapfest. People will see through this eventually. The chink in the armor has already been exposed, and now it is just a matter of time. Either that or China will continue to eat these movies up and we get them forever. As the Transformer series discovered, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.