Has the Golden Age of Superhero Movies Overdone Itself?
Movies and TV is currently saturated with superhero films and shows. There’s at least one superhero movie shown per week on cable and several more are going to be produced on Netflix. Everyone seems to be gobbling up news on the latest Marvel/Disney acquisitions and what Warner/DC is up to. It’s confirmed that Namor, the Submariner is back with Marvel and already someone is campaigning for the role which might not be shown for years. The same goes for the female Captain Marvel.
TV currently has Arrow, the Flash, Gotham and Legends of Tomorrow from Warner TV. Supergirl will soon be taken up by The CW and will soon be shaken up and stirred with the addition of Superman which is unavoidable, really and shouldn’t be avoided. ABC has Agents of SHIELD which is integrated with the MCU and features low-level heroes and villains. Netflix is also busy with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Soon we’ll also have the Punisher on Netflix. Also, Freeform will soon give us Cloak and Dagger. That’s a lot of superheroes on TV.
In film, Marvel Studios will be very busy with Phase 3 which began with Captain America: Civil War which will be followed in November by Doctor Strange. Next year, we’ll have Black Panther and the newly-integrated Spider-Man. There will be further Marvel superhero action with Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Marvel will cap things off with Infinity War Part 1 and 2. There’s just no end to superhero movies, and that’s just from Marvel.
Warner/DC recently gave us the historic battle between two iconic heroes in Batman V Superman. Shortly they’ll be showing Suicide Squad, and later a solo Wonder Woman movie, a solo Batman movie and a rumored Suicide Squad Spinoff Harley Quinn. DC will also feature its own superhero ensemble, Justice League. Fox is currently producing a Deadpool sequel where we’ll finally get to see Cable in live action. Wolverine III is in the works but there’s not much news to a follow up on X-Men: Apocalypse.
Okay, we get it. That’s a lot of superhero films. It’s really fun to be a geek during this golden age of superhero movies. Not sure what age of superhero movies this is really. IMHO, the Golden Age definitely began with the first Superman starring Christopher Reeve. Today feels more like the Bronze Age which began with Iron Man. Anyway, we now actually have lists of what’s to come. But won’t the public tire of one superhero movie after the other? They say it’s a superhero bubble that could pop pretty soon. Many of us fear that one really bad movie from Marvel Studios could bring this age of superhero movies tumbling down. A movie equal to the foulness of the recent Fantastic Four reboot could derail Marvel’s shared universe concept. Thankfully Marvel has yet to disappoint. Captain America: Civil War was stellar. Besides, Harry Potter 5 wasn’t really great but the franchise plodded on.
Evidently, the public isn’t tired yet. Many Marvel Studios fans are raring to see what comes next; like what Doctor Strange has to offer aside from racial and gender-bending. Fans are actually eager to see a Spider-Man movie with Marvel at the driver’s seat instead of Sony. DC hero fans also want to see where their own universe will be heading. What’s going to happen to Superman? Can Jason Momoa pull off an Aquaman? Will a Batfleck flick flame or flicker?
The Search for Real Entertainment
Despite being superhero films, many of these are actually good movies with great stories and execution. Pure unadulterated money-making entertainment. It’s a respite from all the tired and rehashed franchises like Alien, Terminator, Die Hard as well as the disappointments of recent Adam Sandler films. The public is also tired of unimaginative and uninspired remakes and revivals of 80s and 90s movies. There’s a ton of source material to be taken from decades of comic book history. And many are really great stories. Isn’t that the whole point of making films? To bring to life great stories and characters? Translate one of those stories like the Avengers: Kree-Skrull War, Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage, X-Men: Onslaught Saga, Avengers: Secret Wars and Fantastic Four: Galactus into film (without over-imaginative re-imaginings of a bunch of moody egotistical hacks) and you have an over 500-million dollar blockbuster. On TV, The Walking Dead is one big property that came from comics with Rick Grimes as everyone’s hero.
Longing for Heroes
Digging a little deeper, the public doesn’t seem to mind the superhero saturation on movies and TV. We’re tired of reality-TV which is tainted with fiction anyway. Heroism and villainy in professional wrestling? Backstage tutorials in cooking shows? Scripted family conflicts? We watch films and TV to be entertained by what we truly know as works of fiction. We’re tired of all the bad news being thrown our way like school shootings, unrest in the Middle-East, terrorism, racial tensions, who gets to use which bathroom and casual rape.
We want someone to save us from all the negative stuff. We wish that the Man of Steel could simply lift and toss that ISIS infested chunks of Syria into the sun a-la Superman Returns. We want the Flash to save kids from classmates who’ve gone postal. We want Hancock to slice and dice a few limbs from terrorists. Seeing the heroes save the day, catch and dispose of some villain or tyrant can be gratifying. These heroes currently on film and TV offer us hope and inspiration the same way they did in comic book form during the Great Depression and World War II. Some of these movies actually tackle current issues thus, we can relate and feel great when the hero solves the problem in which we are often helpless.
So yes, superhero movies and TV shows may be here to stay for a while. Many are genuinely entertaining. They make us feel better. So what if our protagonist wears a cape?