The superhero genre landed in theaters with an overwhelming roar and grabbed the attention of moviegoers straightaway. Superhero movies aren’t anything new, to say they are a new phenomenon would be a slight to the greats like Christopher Reeve, Michael Keaton, Wesley Snipes, and countless others from past superhero movies.
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The Superman movies of the late 70s may seem simple and campy, but they were entertaining to the audience of the day. Movies like Blade and Tim Burton’s Batman might feel dated with special effects that aren’t as polished by today’s standards, but they thrilled the audience of their era as well.
The superhero genre has always been a part of Hollywood. I mean, it dates back to the 20s and 30s with characters such as Zorro and Flash Gordon. Since the dawn of the movies, Hollywood has been trying to portray the superhero genre because it’s exciting and fun. Adventure, daring, bravery, and the heroes ultimately prevailing make for an entertaining and uplifting experience.
Through the years, the superhero genre has had its share of hits and misses. But the arrival of the Marvel Cinematic Universe blew the doors wide open. With new technology, editing software, CGI advancements, and camera equipment, the MCU was primed to usher in a whole new and exciting superhero genre, and it did not disappoint.
Of course, we can’t dismiss great movies like the Dark Knight Trilogy and other great superhero films. But it was really the MCU era that brought a unique style to the superhero genre.
There may be some disagreement among fans, but to me Iron Man was the start of the MCU and was the blueprint for nearly every superhero movie since. I fully admit that I was beyond excited when Iron Man premiered. After Iron Man, we got The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and all seemed glorious in the superhero universe.
The public ate up the MCU, even those who never had an interest in superheros or comic books were buzzing about these new superhero movies. It didn’t take long for Hollywood to latch on to the superhero teat and start the milking process. The Hollywood milking process can vary in time. Every so often the production lasts for a few films, seasons, or years, and other times the production grinds to a halt after the second or third film.
In the case of this superhero genre run, the teat was overflowing. Between 2008 and 2020, there were thirty-four MCU titles released. That’s just the MCU, not including anything made for Disney+, Sony, or even DC. Things seemed to be going very well for the superhero genre, there was no end in sight to the success of the films being released.
But recent movies have been hitting a brick wall with audiences. Movies such as Black Widow, The Eternals, and the newest Flash movie have left audiences sour on the superhero genre. The Flash could actually end up losing Warner Bros. upwards of $200 million. The overuse of CGI and the injection of political rhetoric are just two of the bullets that have struck at the heart of superhero movies.
Superhero movies have gone from fantastical stories of adventure, daring, and bravery to platforms for ideological pundits seeking to inject their message into the mainstream psyche. The ideology army took a bit of time to completely infiltrate the industry but it hasn’t taken as long for the audience to turn its back on the superhero movies they are making.
Hollywood saw its opportunity to rake in the cash as this cow was giving milk in abundance. I mean, look at Avengers: Endgame, it raked in over $2 billion, pure insanity! To its credit, there have been many outstanding superhero movies over the past fifteen years, but the well is looking dry and superhero fatigue is setting in on us all. Maybe it’s time for a break, the audience is certainly going to take a break and if Hollywood is smart, they will too.
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