Today: May 16, 2024

Have Superheroes Reached Saturation?

In a new series of features Cinema Editor James Hay asks if audiences are beginning to grow weary of the  superhero saturation in movies currently, and for the foreseeable future, gracing the silver screen? 

With Spectre here and the new Star Wars film due on our screens imminently, and set to close out the year by blowing box office roofs clean off, it got me to thinking about big movies, where they’re headed and us with them…

Before Star Wars muscled its way back onto the scene, it’s been a millennium of silver screen superheroes keeping us entertained and excited. Having lived through the big bang of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, enjoying, for the most part, the light show and now seeing it about to roll into its 8th year and so-called ‘Phase Three’, with the slate already chalked up to the end of the decade, I wondered if you thought you had any stomach left for it?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the one-liner quips and ridiculous popcorn-chomping action spectacle as much as the next grown-up kid, but I must admit I have been feeling this year that I may have reached saturation point when it comes to our spandex-clad friends. I mean, really, how many more bad Spider-Man re-genesis films do I have to sit through?!

The first Avengers movie was widely heralded as an unqualified success, with Joss Whedon lauded for his admirable achievement of blending so many different characters and their sub-plots/personal narratives into one giant romper-stomper of a thrill ride. I would agree with that and, although you could level the question of whether it was just a big Iron Man movie with friends (the same query lays at the door of Avengers 2), I enjoyed it immensely. However, since then, I’ve been gradually feeling the gears grinding slightly watching the Marvel movies. You can almost hear the laziness as they chug their way formulaically towards another billion dollar cash-cow. Guardians of the Galaxy emphatically excepted.

This all culminated for me with Age of Ultron. Everything up to that point had been entirely acceptable entertainment, building the tapestry of these heroes and villains towards a distant and impending crescendo. If the immediate crescendo was Age of Ultron then I want my money back. It was the first time I was genuinely disappointed by a Marvel film…oh, no, wait, I saw Edward Norton destroy The Hulk….and not only was it nothing original, it was worse than the first Avengers film and full of holes! Thor’s character arc?? Paul Bettany as some sort of ‘Zoom’ ice-lolly-clad super-superhero with no discernible super-powers that separated him from anyone else?? The film was a disappointing mess with its veil of sparkle and Marvel magic permeated by a distinct lack of ideas. Whedon himself said making it almost killed him. Probably because the studio pressure to follow the billion-dollar-topping success and wide critical acclaim of the first film hampered any flair for creativity. If you’ve already planned the next five years of movies and profits then that doesn’t leave much room for originality.

So, my question: are you looking forward to the next Phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or, are you burned out on all the hype?

I mean, how much longer can I be expected to get myself excited in anticipation for another superhero movie? (OK, I’m pumped for Batman v Superman. I’m still a human being).

Main image taken from The Death Of Superman from DC Comics. 

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