In many ways I think Alejandro González Iñárittu would make the perfect supervillain. He’s warped this perception of superhero movies as a “cultural genocide” from which there is no escape. To him, film is a dying medium when it comes to artistic integrity. From the depths of his mind, Birdman was born. The elitist viewpoint on superhero movies being such a negative impact is unfiltered insanity.
I’ve written before on how superhero movies are here to stay (and why it’s okay), but I need to expand on those thoughts before proceeding. There are countless other genres that flood the marketplace with their own brand of mediocrity (not to say all superhero movies are stellar, by any means). It’s not so much a syndrome of hating something popular but a lack of understanding how this blockbuster fad works (an unexpected virtue of ignorance). We all know superhero movies are the focus of major blockbuster entertainment for the foreseeable future. This isn’t a sign of Hollywood dying. It’s the way the industry has always worked.
Every decade or so a trend takes over Hollywood where executives notice the fun tangible details of a popular movie and begin inserting them into every one of their upcoming projects. Back in 2008, it looked like Young Adult films would have their day. Young adults don’t need more than one giant franchise. The likes of Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games were all different (quality and tonally) and were never in direct competition with each other at the box office. They were able to grab all the attention from their respective audiences. Wondering why audiences never latched on to things like Eragon or City of Bones? On paper, they sound like easy wins. They missed the part about having actual talent in front of and behind the camera, and they have a feeling of “been there, done that.” The universe has a way of fixing itself. Life, uh, finds a way (insert Jeff Goldblum laugh track).
Little did we know that superhero movies would become the dominant franchise builders. Coming out of Age of Ultron, the continuing attempts at spinning the narrative of “superhero fatigue” continues to exacerbate me. Some superhero movies are similar, but how many Academy Award nominated movies from this year have we literally seen hundreds of times? Can we not take seriously a work of fiction because some characters wear capes? So what if we have some crappy superhero movies? The universe has a way of fixing itself when it comes to shitty movies. Remember Sony’s planned Spider-Verse franchise? HA.
Because a movie doesn’t explore the facets of humanity doesn’t mean it’s any less important than something like a Fast and Furious film. We love what we love. That’s a pretty broad statement but the truth of the matter is that we all have different tastes. We’re attracted to different things. Someone may find Scarlett Johannsson attractive but Chris Evans repulsive and vice-versa (they’re both fine as hell so this is a bad example).
Superheroes represent this old fashioned notion that gods can walk the earth. They can bring sorrow but also hope. Not every movie will be great. Not every movie will be terrible. It’s the same for every genre. Let’s continue giving them the chance to explore these ideas.
It’s worth discussing (like in the best superhero stories) whether or not these movies are better or more harmful to the industry as a whole. Are they here to save the world of movies? Probably not. But maybe they deserve a little more credit when they succeed. But if there is an unwillingness to engage the idea that these films might be about something more than your average blockbuster, maybe the problem isn’t with superhero movies themselves.
Featured Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures