“Is this the year comic book fatigue really sets in?”
I’ve heard this statement a fair bit over the last few years, almost as if it’s a given that eventually the superhero genre will collapse under the weight of its huge box office takings.
*Disclaimer* I’m not a particularly big fan of comic book movies – I’ve no real dislike towards them, they just don’t rock my boat in the same way they do others.
So, what basis is there for the argument of the long-coming collective weariness? I’m not totally sure…
Is it the fact that there are currently multiple CBM’s released each year via the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and Fox banners? That’s probably the most likely reason for the clamour, but is it really justified? Nope.
Cinema walls and city billboards are being saturated with posters displaying the same heroes that have graced comic covers for decades. Should this irk moviegoers that much? Nope.
Is it the perceived lack of diverse beats throughout the movies? Maybe. The usually lacklustre villains/lack of stakes? Potentially.
Movie snobbery? Quite possibly.
Spider-Man: Homecoming - $880m (despite being another reboot of the character)
Thor: Ragnarok - $816m (succeeding a tepidly-received sequel)
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - $863m (following the surprise 2014 hit)
Doctor Strange - $677m (a character largely unknown to the mainstream)
Captain America: Civil War - $1.53bn
Wonder Woman - $821m
Justice League - $573m*
Suicide Squad - $745m (again, a collective mainly unknown to the mainstream, star power sells)
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice - $873m (this was actually lower than expected)
Logan - $616m (R rated road journey)
Deadpool - $783m (a huge surprise, R rated)
In terms of the 2017 releases, it’s been a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok and Logan, however, I’ve no love for Spider-Man: Homecoming or Justice League – but the general consensus is an overwhelmingly positive response, just check out the box office takings and critic reviews/Rotten Tomatoes…maybe don’t check out the Justice League reviews, though.
But, it’s clear from returns that the genre is flourishing. It’s also clear that the MCU is leagues ahead in terms of output, general popularity and box office takings (granted, there’s a lot more MCU to pick from currently). For what it’s worth, I much prefer the DC stable – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Joker, the assorted rogues galleries and…Krypto the Super-Dog – additionally, The Dark Knight is still one of my favourite movies. Man, I remember seeing it in the cinema on opening night in Woking and being blown away by the movie and Heath Ledger’s towering performance.
Throw in the fact that The Avengers is the 5th most successful movie of all time (without inflation) and the Infinity War trailer currently holds the record for most trailer views in the first 24 hours of release* (not an indication of box office, but worthy of mention, though I fully expect Infinity War to gross at least $1.5bn) and it starts to become even more obvious that the appetite has not wavered.
Want more evidence that the genre is in no danger? Check out what’s coming in the next few years…
Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Aquaman
Potential sleeper hits
Ant-Man and the Wasp, Venom, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants
Hellboy, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, Wonder Woman 2, Avengers 4
Potential sleeper hits
Silver and Black, Gambit (average movie consumer won’t be aware of the issues that have plagued this), Shazam
On top of that slate, there are the plethora of movies that have been mooted or are in various stages of pre-production, including…
The Batman, Justice League 2, Flashpoint, Harley Quinn, Gotham City Sirens, Man of Steel 2, Martin Scorsese produced Joker.
Shall we also mention that sheer calibre of performers that seemingly can’t wait to don the spandex (or various colourful/weird/bizarre getups)? If the below names were associated with any other genre/franchise, there would be clear respect paid from the start:
Robert Downey Jr., Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Andrew Garfield, Robert Redford, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Russell Crowe, Ron Perlman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Jeff Bridges, Tim Roth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Natalie Portman, Kevin Costner, Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Willem Dafoe, Stellan Skarsgård, Emma Stone, Hugo Weaving, Brie Larson, Toby Jones, Viola Davis, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Michael Shannon, Benicio del Toro, Margot Robbie, William Hurt, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen, Donald Glover, Jeff Goldblum, Michael B. Jordan, Jeremy Irons…
That’s a combined 23 Academy Awards alone, not to mention the absurd amount of nominations. A-List.
So, I’m not entirely sure where the idea that the time is nigh for CBM’s originated from or how it sustains year-on-year. Whilst the movies may not be the greatest pieces of cinema ever (don’t hate, they generally look great), there’s clearly a public desire for the characters and the fun and escapism they provide. Everyone knows Batman, everyone knows Superman, everyone knows Spider-Man – the list goes on – and they’ve been around for so, so long, so why on earth would it stand to reason that their movies wouldn’t be successful? It’s a baffling argument and I absolutely would love to hear people’s thought on it.
If you don’t like the genre, then there’s no reason to pay it any attention. But one thing is clearer than anything, the comic book genre is not going away.