Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Superhero Film Fatigue – Is it a Thing?

If we count Lego Batman 2017 will have eight superhero films based on characters from DC and Marvel comics. 2016 had six. Are people getting tired of these yet?

Over the past couple of years, the idea of superhero film fatigue has started to pop up. The prevailing sentiment is there are too many superhero films in cinema today and eventually the movie going public will reject the films being put out by major studios. There are two different camps to break this into. Those who are film fans, cinephiles, or movie snobs and the general movie public. The cinephiles are getting tired of numerous superhero movies which come out every year. The general movie going public, as of yet, has not.

Personally I consider myself both. I love superhero films, and movies in general. For me I haven’t become fatigued by the numbers of superhero films coming out, and think Marvel films in particular continue to put out better and better films. One can argue Marvel has a formula and they don’t take enough chances, but what they do is introduce new genre stories to new superheroes which keeps the films fresh and entertaining. The general movie going audience seems to think the same thing, because each movie they release continues to make money.

The almighty dollar is what is going to determine how long the superhero movie craze continues. If people continue to support the movies the major studios are going to continue to produce them. Last year had the most superhero films released to date and each one, even the ones panned critically, made money. Four out of the six released made over seven hundred million dollars. From the general movie going audience there is not fatigue. In 2015 there were only three releases and two did well. Fantastic Four bombed, but it is the only outlier from the last four years. If you look at 2014 totals every single release made over seven hundred million dollars. While 2016 had a couple which only grossed over five hundred million worldwide those films either had a poorer reception critically in the case of X-Men or had a lesser known superhero like Doctor Strange.  All the films for the past four years, except one, have made money. There will many more superhero films in near future due to this.

There could be a tipping point where the public does become fatigued by the sheer number of superhero films. This also ties into the quality of the films. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad both made Warner Brothers money, but if Wonder Women and Justice League are not received well critically the general public may not be sucked in.  Wonder Woman is also a period piece, which may turn some off if it doesn’t do well out of gate critically. Justice League will make money, but how much will also be based on the initial reception. If these films don’t do well and have some of the same issues as Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad they will make less than either of those films did. Marvel however with the quality of their films will continue to make money until they fail. Each new film they have coming out this year looks fantastic. Guardians, Thor, and throw in Spiderman, even though it’s a Sony release, all look great.  If for some of these aren’t spectacular and Justice League and Wonder Woman are bad, then audiences may start to shy away in 2018. However, with The Lego Batman movie already making over 170 million worldwide in two weeks and Logan’s early positive critic reception, the superhero craze is likely to continue in full force for the next few years.

As a person who loves all types of movies I can understand those who think independent and mid-level films are getting pushed aside for the blockbuster releases. I don’t think it’s the case, because there are still hundreds of films coming out each year which are not based on comic book superheroes. As someone who likes both I’m perfectly happy with the current state of cinema. There will eventually be a tipping point and the amount of superhero films will diminish, but the genre is never going to go away. Comic books have been around nearly as long as cinema itself, and these types of stories with advancing technology is here to stay.

How many superhero films per year is too much? Do you think there will be an eventual decline in the money these films make? Comment and let me know. 

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