Superhero movies won’t last. At least that’s what some people in Hollywood are saying these days. Funny thing about that though, is it keeps coming from people who aren’t even involved with Superhero Movies. Steven Spielberg being the latest to give us all his opinion, and even saying they would soon “go the way of the western”. Am I the only one who thinks that it sounds like sour grapes, coming from sources like this? It’s like they are angry that Superhero movies keep topping their opening weekend box office numbers, and feels like nothing more than wishful thinking on their part. Maybe they are just mad that they have to think harder about release dates for their own films now, so they don’t have to compete with them. Steven Spielberg used to be the king of summer blockbusters, and now his latest film Bridge of Spies is set to release here in a time that there is usually a lull in movie attendance, October. Things like this make me scratch my head a little, about his current stance on Superhero movies, and question his motivation behind those statements.
People have been saying that comic books wont last for decades now, and yet I still see quite a few people at my local comic book shop every Wednesday when new books come out. Comic books have gone from something almost exclusively for kids (in my Dad’s generation), to slightly more respected but still fringe status (in my generation), to almost a full on mainstream part of pop culture (Currently, and my daughter’s generation). This is really nothing short of amazing, in my opinion. I remember when I was a kid, and conventions were mostly just sweaty guys peddling back issues. Now they are major events that often even get coverage in the mainstream press. Both San Diego and New York Comic Cons, boast attendance in the hundreds of thousands these days. How can this still be looked at as some passing phase by some people? Are they living under a rock?
All this talk despite the fact that Superhero Movies are not only making good money, they are also in a golden age for their overall quality. When Marvel can take a not very well known, and even at times downright unlikable character like Ant Man, and turn it into a box office success, you really do have to start to stand up and maybe start to give them some credit.
We do still have our flops, I’m looking at you Fantastic Four, but even it was still in second place on it’s opening weekend box office numbers. That alone says something about the current pulling power of this genre. Fox may have overstepped expectations and given it too big of a budget to be a big success, but plenty of people still lined up to shell out their hard earned cash, even with all the internet backlash and bad early premiere reviews.
As most everyone knows, Marvel even has their own studios these days, this fact alone should tell anyone that superhero movies are not going anywhere for a while. Couple this with a release schedule that is five years out and still growing, they just recently announced four new films to be added to that list, and saying these movies are going to die out soon sounds very premature to anyone with half a brain. Marvel’s recent success with their films is not just because of a fanbase of comic lovers, it’s because they have been making pretty good entertaining movies. There are people from all walks of life that want to see these movies, and that fanbase is growing not just in this country but internationally as well.
There are also some social and political factors that seem to be driving this, in my opinion. The world is a mess right now with war and crime, and our world leaders seem to be unwilling to actually put a stop to any of it. We are all yearning for heroes of one kind or another, and these movies give us an escape from all of that. They are a healthy fantasy for more than just us comic lovers.
DC is also putting together it’s own growing list of movies, and they are also putting out some really good TV shows currently. As an example, The Flash and Arrow are easily on par, quality wise, with what Marvel has been doing with it’s movies. Even the up and coming comic publisher Valiant is trying to get in on the act, as they also have plans for upcoming movies. Now of course we do run the risk of over-saturation if things keep growing like they are, but I still think we are a ways out before that happens. If they continue to make quality products with these properties, I think people will continue to consume them well into the future. After all, even if some people are getting tired of them we are still blessed with an amazing amount of alternatives these days.
It’s hard to be at the top, like a lot of superhero movies clearly are these days, because when you’re at the top there will always be people trying to bring you down. Also, nothing lasts forever, so at some point they will naturally dip in popularity. I just don’t think it will be happening for quite a while, and we shouldn’t be listening to people who aren’t even involved with superhero movies, when it comes to talk of their demise. If you hear someone like Kevin Feige or any of the top comic book executives say that that superhero movies will soon be going the way of the western, THEN maybe you can put some stock into it. Until then, let’s just grab some more popcorn, and enjoy this wonderful golden age of superhero movies.