Hollywood, could you please stop making superhero movies?

superhero films

With Deadpool set to become the latest comic book character to get his own blockbuster film, and several other superhero films set to be released over the next three years, one thing is an absolute certainty. Superhero films are here to stay, mainly because they’re still able to bring an ageing Hollywood a veritable cesspool of profits. Suffice it to say, I’ve gotten sick of it.

Every year it seems as though Hollywood can depend on there being at least three superhero films to bring in lots of money, and this has been going on for nearly a decade. They make so many superhero films, it’s as if the whole cinematic landscape of the 2010’s can be whittled down to one superhero film after another, that is if it’s not some crappy comedy or horror film. The sad part of this is that I know there have been some good films over the past five years, but for most of each year, nearly every film (except Star Wars) gets overshadowed by the presence of the next big-budget superhero film.

In this regard, I think the main reason superhero films get so much attention is not so much the characters, but the merchandise that inevitably generate. Producers can count on kids begging their parents to take them to the cinemas to see their favourite heroes predictably defeating a super villain, and then asking them again to get them the latest merchandise with that character’s name on it. It’s classic Hollywood commercialism, and it’s ruining cinema, or at least undermining film as an art form.

To be fair, the worst offender seems to be Marvel, with it’s Cinematic Universe making sure that the superhero craze lasts through the entire decade. They’re dead set on releasing 3-4 films a year, many of them likely to be yet more sequels, and they keep releasing new merchandise to go along side it, and they never try to innovate at all. Every one of their films tries pointlessly to appeal to a mass audience while still pandering to comic book fans (the fact that Stan Lee cameos in every one of them is already a bad sign). Then again, Marvel doesn’t give a damn about creativity. If they did, they wouldn’t make every one of their movies the same thing thrice a year. They’re all repetitive, excessive, ludicrously expensive hype vehicles designed to sell toys (which would pretty much explain why there’s so many of them to begin with). It’s no different to the glut of Saturday morning cartoons of the 80’s and 90’s, which were basically 30-minute toy commercials.

saturday morning cartoons

Imagine that in live-action and for two hours, and you get the picture.

It’s not as though DC’s films are any different, just that DC has been losing credibility for a few years now, and they might just plummet further with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. With too many characters, an unwelcome recasting for Batman, and an excessive 151-minute length, this film has all the signs of a complete flop, never mind that the film’s only being made to justify the existence of a string of Justice League films, and more merchandise.

Of course, all of this would be less of a problem if the major studios would be more open-minded about making new superheroes who didn’t appear in any comic books before. They’ve made so many superhero films that they must be able to do something new with the genre. It’s too bad that Hollywood studios are completely afraid of trying out new ideas, mainly because in Hollywood, films are a business, rather than an art form. That’s too bad because if the superhero genre has any hope of staying relevant beyond the initial hype, then it desperately needs some new ideas. As long as major studios continue to ignore new ideas, then the genre will continue growing stagnant, and I’m pretty sure we’re not too far from the comic book bubble from bursting spectacularly.

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4 thoughts on “Hollywood, could you please stop making superhero movies?

  1. Superhero movies are here to stay and they are going to keep making them for a long long time. And thank god. I can’t stand artsy anti-climactic movies that end without fulfillment or where a hero dies at the end. Superhero movies are a breath of fresh air and will continue to be for as long as comic books have been around because there are so many comics out there that the amount of source material to dig stories from is unprecedented. And people love superhero movies BTW, otherwise they wouldn’t bring in millions and millions and millions of dollars. It’s not just the kids that love them. It’s more adults that spend the money, and this will continue for a very very long time. As long as they continue pumping out superhero movies(hopefully they will make more per year) people will continue seeing them and loving them.

    • They aren’t a breath of fresh air if Hollywood keeps making them. And is the alternative really some pretentious art house film? There are other popular genres besides superhero films, and even then, there’s also plenty of cult films that show a pretty clear alternative, but Hollywood only plays safe bets nowadays. I wouldn’t have as much of a gripe with superhero films if they at least made original superheroes, ones that didn’t start in the comics, but they won’t because it isn’t easy money.

  2. This article presents some interesting arguments. While it can be argued that superhero films have monopolised the cinema industry, I feel blockbuster films have always been more prominent than more artistic films. I remember a film historian arguing that, since the eighties, studios have focussed more on action-packed films rather than creatively-driven films. Big budget action films, such as Top Gun and Independence Day, seemed to have been an annual event, more heavily advertised than quieter films. I also feel superhero films contain themes transferred between film genres, such as martial arts films in the eighties and nineties, Westerns from the forties and fifties, etc. These genres of films usually contain heroes who strive to lead moral lives, feature the heroes fighting for good against evil in a morally clear battle, use their strength to overcome their weaknesses and their enemies and always protect the innocent. I also feel many Marvel films, despite using repetitive ideas, still manage to add individuality to their films. Iron Man films usually feature a corporate enemy, Thor films use Norse mythology and some mysticism, Captain America films resemble older adventure films, Guardians of the Galaxy uses science-fiction elements, Spiderman films examine his attempts to lead a double life, etc. Many of the original comics also feature civil issues from the times and show the characters experiencing problems familiar to readers.
    I agree it is a shame these films seem to focus on profiting heavily from merchandising though.

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