The question gets asked every year in one form or the other: “Will moviegoers get tired of superhero films?” Superhero fatigue is a phrase that gets tossed around constantly. Now, if the box office is any indication, the answer to the question above is simple — not any time soon.
But will the average audience member grow tired. The Marvel Cinematic Universe alone will be releasing its 21st film in March, 2019 with Captain Marvel. By the time 2017 is all said and done, we will have had six come out. You can even throw in The LEGO Batman movie and Power Rangers to make eight. And if this money train looks to be slowing down — well, you’re looking at the wrong train.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige weighed in on the subject in a recent interview with Variety. Though he may not have been the first to assemble heroes on the big screen — what with Fox and Sony paving the way with X-Men and Spider-Man — he is certainly the one to do it in the most efficient and groundbreaking manner by introducing a shared universe:
“Yeah, I do. I mean really, all I worry about are the films that we make and the films that we can control. And nobody would get fatigued more than all of us at Marvel Studios,” Feige said. “We live this, we breathe this 24-hours a day,
7-days a week. So almost every film we make and every decision we make is to keep ourselves interested and to keep things fresh and to keep things unexpected. And so far, as you say, 19 films in, the audience seems to be responding to that.”
Even coming off an incredibly hyped Day 3 of San Diego Comic-Con, where superhero fatigue is more myth than anything, it may be easy to forget about those who put in the work to deliver these products. Fans are no stranger to getting subpar material in the past from various studios, but it seems as though those studios are starting to pick up on the things needed to progress the superhero genre and avoid stagnation.
Fox has implemented groundbreaking, adult themes into its recent installments such as Deadpool and Logan and that may carry over to an upcoming Gambit film. Sony finally managed a deal with Marvel Studios to bring a more comic book accurate Spider-Man that, despite its critics, is a sure step up from where the two previous Spider-Man franchises ended. Warner Bros. recently had its first big critical hit in Wonder Woman, which broke down some barriers for women in film and the studio is starting to embrace a lighter tone as evidenced by the most recent Justice League trailer that dropped at SDCC. Even a well-oiled machine such as the MCU has been criticized for its films sticking to a very specific formula, but with Black Panther being compared to The Godfather and James Bond in tone and Thor: Ragnarok embracing the ’80s, it’s something the studio seems well-aware of.
No matter the differences between each studio and the way they embrace the superhero genre, the one common denominator is that change is good and for the genre to survive, that evolution has to be embraced.
Sub-Genres We Want To See In Superhero Films
Superhero films have existed since the 1920s (if you count Zorro) and have always been a part of our public lexicon. However, recently, superhero films have had an exponential uptick in production, thanks to CGI and film budgets finally being able to accurately keep up with our imagination. Currently, the superhero film is the mainstream blockbuster. Ever since Iron Man hit theaters way back in 2008, the amount of modern-day superhero films has continued to grow. Sure, there were superhero films before that, from Superman in 1978 and Batman in 1989, as well as Blade in the late 90s to X-Men in the early 2000s, and Sam Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy. But now, superhero films are the dominant form of pop culture entertainment. This year alone, there are 7 superhero movies hitting theaters. It’s a good time to be a geek! Many of our favorite characters growing up are now getting their due on the big screen.
As we are now knee-deep in the age of the superhero film, these projects also have the potential to oversaturate the market. There’s always talk of “superhero fatigue” and some even predicting that superhero films will go the way of the Western by showing the same thing over and over again. After all, there are only so many ways heroes can face off against a villain to stop a “sky beam” before things get stale.
Luckily for us, the superhero genre has ways of reinventing itself by introducing new sub-genres in these films. Captain America: The Winter Soldier gave us a political thriller wrapped in a superhero movie. Ant-Man gave us a heist film disguised as a superhero movie. Doctor Strange gave us a film of sorcery. Guardians of the Galaxy gave us a space-opera. Man of Steel gave us a darker edge of heroics and the calamity that they can cause (which Captain America: Civil War also did). Of course, Logan knocked it out of the park by giving us a superhero Western. The Batman is promising to be a noir film while The New Mutants and Sony’s Venom are expected to be full-on horror films.
So, there are obviously a lot of places that the superhero genre can continue to evolve and grow upon. Here are a few sub-genres that could exist in future superhero films. Click Next to take a look….