The superhero movie trend has been around for decades. But Free Comic Book Day stated that it gained a major resurgence primarily because of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man and Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight, both of which were released in 2008. Since then, both Marvel and DC have released superhero movies on a regular basis and will continue to do so up until 2020 and beyond. Sony Pictures is also chiming in with its announcement of upcoming films to build up its “Spider-Verse”. It leaves many people wondering, will the superhero phenomenon ever die out?
When asked about it, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins said to CinemaBlend, “It’s not about superheroes. It’s about the method of universal storytelling that all people have that is not of one religion, one thing, that America ended up inventing as a way to tell these metaphors about all different kinds of states of being.” In hindsight, superheroes are common characters faced with relatable challenges, and their stories are essentially an exaggeration of the daily situations people go through. Their appeal would be inherently similar to that of biblical figures such as David and Goliath, or mythological characters like Hercules. Furthermore, superhero narratives cover plenty of ground in terms of themes and genres. A typical movie could reflect the socio-political climate of a certain country, or trends in society.
From that perspective, we can agree that superhero stories definitely have longevity. These characters have been around since the 1940’s after all. ScreenRant notes that superheroes continually evolve and adapt to current times. A perfect example is the portrayal of Batman. In the 1960s, the Batman TV series introduced a campy version of the caped crusader, which made actor Adam West a pop culture icon. Then in the last decade, audiences became familiar with a grittier, realistic Batman, thanks to Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy. The character is one proof that superheroes can be molded to fit the way audiences see the world at the time.
You can’t ignore their powerful influence either. Since superheroes and comic book characters are very much adored, even other industries and mediums have been swayed to incorporate such elements. For instance, international clothing stores like H&M, Uniqlo, and Urban Outfitters have all added superhero-themed apparel to their catalogs. It’s a far cry from before when fans could only find geeky shirts in niche stores. In a very similar approach, UK gaming platform Slingo has released themed games patterned after comic book characters, with titles like Wonder Woman and Hellboy among the most recognizable. Like general merchandise, such creations now draw audiences who are not avid comic book fans. It’s apparent that the genre is flexible and highly adaptable, making the superhero element applicable to all sorts of collaborative projects. The genre’s strong presence on the market greatly contributes to its longevity.
Of course, there are still people who believe otherwise. The Hollywood Reporter relayed the opinion of Steven Spielberg, who declared that the superhero trend will have the same fate as Western movies: it will soon die out, prompting audiences to move on and demand new things. While there’s always the chance that it could happen, DC and Marvel seem hell-bent on preventing it.
It’s uncertain when the public will get tired of superheroes. But by the looks of things in terms of current and upcoming projects associated with genre, it’s safe to say that it’s not going to be anytime soon.