‘SuperHero’ Month: Where now for Superhero movies?

Inundated, overblown, too many? Superhero movies have become very common and very popular in recent years.

Are we at the saturation point where the audience is about to switch off from all this spandex and split personalities?

With only two superhero movies ranking in the all-time top twenty grossing movies (not adjusted for inflation), it would appear that there is still plenty of legs and mullah to make from an ever evolving genre.

Worldwide All Time Box office (gross)

I for one am not about to switch off, as long as the excellence remains, but with great frequency comes diminished quality.

The Dark Knight Rises looks set to become the greatest hero movie and could possibly overtake The Avengers as the highest grossing yet.

Will The Dark Knight Rises represent the high water mark for our heroes or is it the beginning of another even greater phase for superhero franchises and even greater box office returns?

Marvel and DC seem to think so.

The Avengers IS only the beginning for Marvel’s ensemble, with further sequels for many of its protagonists to come and the very, almost definite possibility of an Avengers sequel. Marvel’s cash cow will either take it on to an all new level or be the straw that breaks the audiences back and inclination to keep coming back for more.

DC and Warner no doubt want to achieve the same success; The Dark Knight Rises is not only going to end one saga and the vision of a truly remarkable filmmaker in Christopher Nolan, but will also usher in another saga for Batman. With an inevitable Justice League movie to come to try to rival The Avengers, it would seem it is only the beginning for DC and Warner too and an even bigger hero universe for Batman to exact more vigilante justice.

So what needs to happen now for Superhero movies to remain relevant and captivating?

Well, for a start The Dark Knight Rises has to deliver and create a truly perfect trilogy of hero movies, this hasn’t been done before. Many a saga has faltered at the final hurdle; X-Men, Spiderman, Blade, the original Batman saga and Superman cashing in and not telling the story, delivering the same – boredom set in and our heroes lost their power.

Nolan’s movies have brought not only box office success but greater storytelling and credibility to a mocked genre, it would be a shame for this momentum to be halted, but I can’t see it. Trust in Nolan to deliver.

Superhero movies need to keep moving with the times, not paying lip service to in jokes, but relevance to the wider world events; Superheroes have often been around when the world needs them most, metaphorically providing hope. They are no longer just escapism or entertainment; they also have a thread of reality with vulnerable heroes battling real enemies in real world settings. Recent superhero movies have created a more visceral audience connection, and this strategy has led to a golden age of quality and box office returns.

But they do entertain and will always entertain, The Avengers in essence ‘just went for it’ big-time! But they must still also move with the technological times, as hero movies still need to the blockbuster of the summer as well the multifaceted character and themed studies they are now too.

3D may be a headache inducer at times but it lends itself to BIG, but the gimmick won’t hold forever, compelling story and great characters remain the eternal allure.

IMAX possibly creates grander spectacle and is the format I want to embrace the most. On the 21st July I will report back on my first IMAX experience. Christopher Nolan has been the biggest user of the format so far.

We could also be on the brink of another new age of CG, but recent hero movies haven’t really pushed the bar upwards, the greatest landmark CG moments have come in other movies in living memory; LOTR, Transformers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Avatar. An over reliance on the same techniques has set in perhaps; maybe Superheroes could lead the next development in CGI.

Marvel has a massive role to play too; The Avengers has set a bar, a superb blueprint to follow to provide mega action with the clever use of individual character’s set up movies, building to the finale that was expertly delivered earlier this summer.

But resting on their laurels is asking for trouble, a simple re-run and rebuild to Avengers 2 via the same blueprint for their second salvo has to provide something different, bigger and meaningful. Epic peril and drama is the way to go; it could be argued that The Avengers got a little too mindless in parts.

So maybe we’re not quite at saturation point yet, but there’s a real danger of complacently just as the going is as good as it’s always been. For every Dark Knight there is a Green Lantern, let’s hope the balance remains firmly held within the vision of the former.

Are we at a turning point for superhero movies ?

Is it downhill, or upwards and onwards from now?

Will The Dark Knight Rises become the greatest and most successful hero movie yet?




11 responses to “‘SuperHero’ Month: Where now for Superhero movies?

  1. I think that there’s a lot of room for improvement. As long as there are directors out there like Nolan, we can count on decent films, whatever the genre. I think that often the best superhero film has a director who’s usually known for dramas or sci-fi. But like you said, the Avengers has given everyone an awesome example to follow, as well as Ironman, Captain America, and (sort of) the Incredible Hulk. The next big superhero film I’m looking forward to is Man Of Steel (2013), and since Nolan is involved in that, it should be good.

    • Superhero movies have been treated with respect since X men and spiderman started this current age now over a decade old, there have been some bad ones on the way, but overall the quality has been good and that will dictate future success. Man of steel should be good, i like Snyder (i am currently working on a watchmen review, which was incredible) and i think he or nolan are in line for a justice league movie.

      • I still haven’t gotten around to seeing Watchmen, I’ve heard that it’s practically a classic but also that it’s pretty violent, and I’m not a huge fan of the violence-made-cool/funny genre (for example Kickass). I’ll definitely read your review and see what you thought of it:)
        Snyder and Nolan. Wow, that would be something!

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