Superheroes have been part of pop culture for a long time. Arguably, 1978’s Superman kick started the interest in superhero movies. Yet how come these superheroes – who have been around for so long – have exploded in the box office over the last decade? Could it be that advances in special effects have made it much more believable to make a man fly, or swing from building to building on webs? Or is it because liking them is no longer considered geeky? These masked crusaders are officially cool, and studios seem to be taking advantage of that fact.
Nevertheless, a fan would say that these movies are so much more than action scenes, buff bodies and flashy visuals. They would argue that these superheroes are relatable characters who also offer total escapism – after all, who doesn’t want to fly like Superman?
What can’t be denied is that these movies have become phenomenal box office hits. The Dark Knight trilogy was a hugely profitable film franchise, and The Avengers is now the third highest grossing movie of all time, taking over $1.5 billion worldwide. But are their successes becoming their downfall?
Now that a blueprint for making these movies has been found, are they all becoming the same? All of the stories may differ in some ways, but many follow a similar formula. Only a rare few took a different directions, such as Christopher Nolan’s psychologically dark The Dark Knight trilogy and Zach Snyder’s unique portrayal of Watchmen.
And now we already have remakes! Did we really need a reboot of the Spider-Man films? After all, other than a different villain and a few structural changes, 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man pretty much told the same story as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, which was only released in 2002. We also have Fantastic Four and Batman reboots on the way.
The question we need to ask is if future generations look back to this time, will they see the same story told over and over again, only with a different costume and antagonist? Will it be the same as when we look back to the 1960s and the spaghetti westerns and see similar stories and set pieces in every film, with Clint Eastwood (no matter how much of a legend he is) seemingly playing the same character? We will have to wait and see. Perhaps the novelty will wear off and these movies will dwindle away to allow studios to invest in original ideas. Or maybe they are truly a phenomenon with a long life ahead of them. After all, the movie machine plays to audience demand and there is no denying that people get a thrill from the main names in the game – Marvel and DC.