‘Ant-Man’s Numbers Are Not a Sign of Superhero Fatigue at the Box Office

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This past weekend, Ant-Man became the 12th Movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to debut at number one. While earlier predictions estimated the films opening weekend to gross between $60-$65 million, Box Office Mojo is projecting a domestic gross of $58 million. It is the second lowest opening for Marvel yet, coming in ahead of The Incredible Hulk in 2008, which took in $55 million its opening weekend.

It’s also worth mention that Ant-Man faced some heavy competition from Minions, which is still doing well in its second week. Despite these numbers, reviews have been incredibly positive, with an audience score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. While the $58 million total isn’t a major drop off from Disney’s expected earnings, it’s enough to once again engage the choruses of “Superhero Fatigue” on the Internet.

It’s something that the fans have been come all-to familiar with over the past year. Every writer who only has a passing interest (or none at all) in the booming superhero genre has been predicting that these movies will burn themselves out at the box office before long.

Anyone else want to join me in a quick eye roll? Just checking…

I have serious doubts that this so-called Superhero Fatigue will actually come to pass, at least in the sweeping tidal wave that naysayers are predicting. This new genre is here to stay. Not only are studios heavily invested on building their cinematic (or extended) universes, but the fans are as well.

From where I’m sitting, there are three big reasons that I believe that reports of Superhero Fatigue are greatly exaggerated.

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity

As I mentioned last week, Warner Bros. used Hall H at Comic-Con this year to roll out the tone and feel of the growing DC Extended Universe. Their goal was to draw a stark contrast with the films coming out of Disney and Marvel, and by all accounts they succeeded.

If having these two giants rolling out a ton of new films isn’t awesome enough, then having further diversity coming out of Fox is the icing on the cake. Rather than three major film companies pumping out the same product over and over again, they are giving us choices. Infinite diversity, in infinite combinations! 

If you’ve seen the leaked Deadpool trailer (and I know you have!), you know that they weren’t kidding about a Rated-R movie. X-Men: Apocalypse looks like it’s going to be killer as well! Meanwhile, Marvel’s Spider-Man reboot is rumored to be highly comedic in tone. Hey, why not?

Whether you’re in the mood for comedy, serious commentary or heightened violence, chances are that you’ll be able to find it in a superhero flick. Or, you could just go see Deadpool and get all three.

Not Every Movie Will Be a Home Run

As fans, we understand that no every one of these films is going to be perfect. Few of them have been. Sometimes there is stiff competition at the theater. Other times there are minor  continuity errors, plot holes, and the occasional rushed sequence. You know what? We still enjoy them.

Most will be pleasantly watchable, and many will be downright fantastic. And every now and then, a studio will lay an egg. Reviews may dip, sales may drop, and fans may write angry things on Reddit, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to sit at home for the next installment. We should never forget that at the end of the day, fans forgive much easier than critics.

If the Prequel Trilogy couldn’t kill the Star Wars franchise, then the occasional under-performing superhero flick isn’t going to sink the Heroic age of Hollywood (wink!) that we have entered.

We Love them, Damn it!

If you’re over the age of 15, then your first encounter with these iconic characters probably wasn’t at the movie theater. Many of us grew up loving Batman, Superman, Captain America, The X-Men, and many others. We read their stories in comics, and watched them on television.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that these movies aren’t winning new fans every day. The same thing happened with the Star Wars prequel trilogy and the rebooted Star Trek films. Many new fans that come on board go back to discover the rich and vivid history of these characters, which only increases their enjoyment of them.

Jared Leto said it perfectly: Superhero’s are the Shakespearean characters of our day. There are so many amazing storylines to adapt and borrow from. When combined with the aforementioned growing diversity of tone, there will be too many options out there for us to get bored.

An awful lot of stars would have to align in order to bring about a real superhero fatigue, and while I’m no astronomer, I still don’t think it’s going to happen. What about you? Do you expect Superhero Fatigue to set in? Let me know in the comments below!

While I wait for your responses, I’m off to find my Batman cape and Star Trek communicator pin. 2016 will be here soon!!

Jesse M

Jesse M

Jesse M is a lover of film, science fiction, and DC Comics. He currently works as a professional writer, and lives in frigid Upstate, NY.