In 2016, there are going to be 7 new superhero movies gracing the screens. In 2017, there are going to be 8, and in 2018, there are already 7 more scheduled to fill theaters. Now as much as I enjoy watching our favorite heroes grace the screen armed with big budgets and ensemble casts, I can’t help but neglect that nagging voice in the back of my head that maybe, just maybe, it is all being overdone a bit too much.
Now why is this a problem?
Predictability. Every superhero movie is ostensibly a formula: the invincible hero, the villain clouded with self-vindication, and about two hundred million dollars worth of special effects; they are also almost always confined the PG-13 rating, which makes for, what would otherwise be heavy content matter, made clean. When an entire genre exists and is reiterated so often, it becomes hard to justify continuing to go to theaters to watch the same story recreated over and over again. There are no more surprises to be had. I hardly remember how it feels to fear for a main character’s life anymore. We have been conditioned to learn that no matter how beat up they get, they’ll just get right back up. Now before I continue, so as I don’t get completely lynched, I feel like I have to mention once again, that so far, I enjoy superhero movies. Do I like that I enjoy them? Not one bit.
This go-to formula has not only contaminated the superhero universe but also the entirety of the blockbuster, which has learned to mimic the heavy-CGI style in order to achieve any success on its own. It is now perceived as impossible for blockbusters to compete on a monetary scale with other films without being just as predictable. The criteria that must be met to deem a superhero movie as “good” in the eyes of studios, is no longer embodied by creativity, or acting finesse, or scriptive power, but rather by box-office strength. There are 30 superhero movies coming out in the next 5 years, but because of this greedy outlook on filmmaking seeping into other films, it seems like a much more gratuitous number.
But as long as this formula makes money, it will continue to be churned out by studios. This low-risk, high-reward, business strategy is a dangerous thing, threatening the use of film as an artistic medium and making it more and more difficult for smaller films to get the attention that they deserve. We are beginning to reject filmmaking as an art form but rather a business. Why would you invest money in something maybe beautiful or profound that will maybe lose you money when you can continue to cater to this genre which lays golden eggs filled with dollar bills and uncut diamonds? I mean, how else will investors continue to indulge in their daily cash baths? What will they blow their noses on if not $100 bills?
Maybe one day, nobody will care who puts on the mask. Maybe one day, a superhero movie will finally bomb and make the studios realize that we as an audience have outgrown our trite Batman underwear and our Superman pajamas. Daredevil is good, though.