Entertainment Hollywood 15 May 2016 Pop culture: Are sup ...

Pop culture: Are superhero movies losing their charm?

Published May 15, 2016, 1:10 am IST
Updated May 15, 2016, 1:10 am IST
Twenty-four films in the past eight years. And at least 30 more coming. This is supersaturation.
Still from X-Men: Apocalypse.
 Still from X-Men: Apocalypse.

“So, have you seen the latest superhero film?”
“Which one?”
Good question.

Remember when superhero movies were a novelty rather than the norm? In the early years of this millennium, superhero films were few and far between. Studios would release a handful every decade and the world would go see them, generally content (except maybe when they were forced to endure Joel Schumacher’s Batman films).


And then Iron Man happened. The 2008 movie starring Robert Downey Jr was Marvel Studio’s first cinematic offering. They were dipping their toes in the pool with this one. And once it became a massive hit, Marvel took the big plunge.

There has been an explosion of superhero films in the eight years since then, with a whopping 24 movies hitting the screens around the world. That’s an average of three a year, and also more than double the number of superhero films that were released in the eight years preceding that.

And that’s not all. This year alone, we have seen three films already — Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. And there are five movies in the pipeline: X-Men: Apocalypse will be releasing on May 27, and will be followed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (June), Suicide Squad (August), Gambit (October), and Doctor Strange (November), taking the number of movies released since 2000 to an eye-watering 36. And eight of those would have released just in 2016, making it the genre’s most prolific year.


Also, the studios have already revealed their plans till 2020. Marvel will be releasing 11 movies between 2017 and 2020 while in the same time period DC will bring out eight movies, not including at least two solo films for Batman and Superman. Wait. There’s more. Fox will come out with sequels, spinoffs — sequels to those spinoffs — for their X-Men, Wolverine and Deadpool franchises. Whew! We’ve lost count here.

This begs the question: just how long before moviegoers feel superhero fatigue? It’s not even as if each superhero movie has anything to distinguish it. Sure, one might argue each film has its own superhero battling his own supervillain, but once you’ve seen the same shtick three dozen times, lines begin to blur.


This is especially true of the Marvel movies, which have the dubious honour of taking wildly talented actors (mostly) and giving them poorly developed villain roles. The result being, every Marvel superhero film has an ultimately forgettable villain — except maybe Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

As enjoyable as these films continue to be, unless the makers of superhero films do something disruptive, shake it all up, it’s only a matter of time before superheroes fade away into nothingness. Sometime after 2020, at any rate.