How To Combat ‘Superhero Fatigue’ One Neighborhood At A Time



The term “superhero fatigue” has been used for a long time but recent diminished box office returns for these big-budget blockbusters have put it back in the conversation. Comic book movie fans are quick to shun the term but critics theorize that audiences are growing bored with shared universes and crossovers.

With underwhelming reception for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  and X-Men: Apocalypse opening to mixed reviews and low box office numbers, is the superhero fatigue finally setting in? It’s unlikely that with projects like the Avengers: Infinity War duology and Suicide Squad on the horizon that the bubble is going to be breached but what is the reason behind audiences’ fatigue and decreased box office?

My theory may surprise you.

In X-Men: Apocalypse the fate of the entire world was at stake. Again in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Gotham and Metropolis faced total annihilation. With Avengers: Age of Ultron the world was once again at risk. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the fate of Sony was at stake. The problem with saving the entire world is that it becomes harder for audiences to relate to the story.

We see countless people losing their lives but it becomes an afterthought as our favorite characters fight it out in their visual effects glory. Within X-Men: Apocalypse our main villain wanted to “destroy this world in order to build a better one” but that was his only motivation. It felt like once again the world will end but our heroes will save the day just in time. This doesn’t feel original or even relatable.

Deadpool was the magic recipe for comic book movies; it shocked at the box office and became beloved by fans but why was that? Was it because of the over-the-top violence or outrageous humor? Or was it that the story wasn’t about saving the world or the entire galaxy? Deadpool told the simple story of a boy who loved a girl. It allowed for a strong connection with audiences because the characters’ motivations were relatable.


On paper having the entire world destroyed is a massive, unthinkable threat. It’s something extreme that audiences have to assume that our heroes will come in and save the day because how often does the world actually end in these stories? Audiences’ go into these movies knowing that even with the threat of massive global destruction, it’s most likely ending the same way. When the stakes are different, when it’s about a boy being in love with a girl or two friends trying to reconnect with their past, these stories have different opportunities to tell a unique story. Audiences are craving uniqueness and something “original” from cinema. The movies have to feel different, surprising yet familiar. That is what can combat and help with this growing “superhero fatigue.”

Captain America: Civil War is another example of how it all comes down to story. Civil War was massive in scale. It featured a number of Avengers and the fight choreography that was breathtaking. But at the heart of this movie it was about a boy from Brooklyn desperate to help his best friend. We have all been in a situation when you just want to help the person you love. Civil War was about friendship first and foremost before saving the entire universe and that hit all of the right notes.

Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool also had the unique factor going in. These felt like brand new takes on the superhero genre, not just another large scale action flick. Before Deadpool was even in production it was blazing the trail in this genre. Civil War focused on emotion in the trailers and immediately divided fans between the two teams. These steps were all unique takes on a now “classic” genre.


Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that all movies should be scaled down in scope. Action is important within comic book movies. The effects have to be stunning but most importantly it always comes down to the story. Audiences are more likely to be connected with something they understand, as opposed to large scale world destruction. The story has to be something that audiences are interested in and feel connected too.

Sometimes saving the neighborhood is more impactful than the entire universe.


Chelsea Lewis

Chelsea Lewis

Chelsea Lewis, TV division, joined Heroic Hollywood in 2016. Prior to joining the team at Heroic, she worked for covering everything from music to...

  • Chris Aytes

    Civil War and Deadpool were also simply really well done. BvS and Apocalypse cannot boast that.

    There is no superhero fatigue; there is simply an audience that’s getting tired of bad movies and some studios struggling to make good ones.

  • Gama


  • mrneddles

    I reject the whole concept of superhero fatigue. Superhero movies are a genre, just like Westerns. Westerns may not be the most popular, theater packing movies these days, but a well written, acted, directed western will still do well.

    There is actor fatigue though, just look at Johnny Depp. Once he was box office gold, now he is poison.

  • Lupin

    IMO Civil War was very formulaic and stale. BvS and Deadpool were the only fresh and unique superhero films we’ve had so far and Deadpool has a weak plot.
    It had the same action-joke-joke-action-quip-joke-gag-action-emotion-joke formula with the requisite comedic player on each side (AntMan and Spidey). It felt like the 133th film in a franchise.
    Apocalypse felt like a 90s/early 2000s action it was a simple 3 part story arch wih an impersonal villain who simply wanted world domination.
    So while I can agree with the thesis of this article, the evidence is skewed wrong imo
    Comicbook fatigue is real and sets in when there is a formula and generic tone to cbms. Variety is good and will keep things interesting.
    We did get 4 different comicbook films this year and for that Im thankful. but what is concerning is that it seemed that critics about half of fanboys went on a rampage of all comicbook movies must be fun and lighthearted and have levity and humor. It’s shallow and if all comcibook movies turn this way with Superman throwing quips and Batman having snappy oneliners the entire genre will pewter out and die

    • Fenix

      Thanks for playing, try again.

    • SAMURAI36

      Absolutely agree to all points.

  • Nick

    I’m bored of comic movies in general. Way too much. Especially with studios mapping out the next decade and the countless TV series we have and will be getting. I say all this is a longtime reader of comics.

  • Math

    Hollywood releases too many big event movies, so people are going to become more picky about which one they want to see. When they released a couple in the year, everyone wanted to go see them. When you release a dozen, you start choosing the ones that seems the most appealing to you.

    Also the ticket prices are still raising. People can afford to see less movies and there are more choices. The wealth is going to be spread out more. I wouldn’t call it fatigue as fatigue is you don’t want to see the genre anymore. People want to see them. We just have too many choices and not enough time/budget to catch them all.

    Add more quality choices in other entertainment mediums like TV shows and video games and just the amount of entertainment available on the internet too, like these websites who post more and more articles per week and video reviews and YouTube video and Facebook links…

    There was a time where I would go to rent a video and I felt like I had seen everything already. Today I can barely keep up with the movies I want to see.