At this point it's safe to say Comic Book Movies are the biggest genre in Hollywood. Ever since 2008, we have had a massive explosion of superheroes on the big screen more than ever before. Between Marvel Studios, Warner Bros, FOX, and Sony alone we get a whole bunch of comic book movies from different respective universes each year. In 2017 alone, we have had seven superhero movies starting with Logan all the way till Justice League. For a comic book fan, that's a dream. But what about the general audience?
Comic book movies have had an undeniable impact on cinema and Hollywood. If it has tights and a cape, it's a box office blockbuster. But that wasn't always the case, and it might not be the case in the future.
To think at the point we are at now, it all started in 1966 with Batman: The Movie based on the hit Adam West show. Ever since then, we have had dozens of comic book movies all across Marvel, DC, and more. When superhero movies were a once every few years thing, it became over five superhero movies each year. Those movies weren't the most successful in the past, as there were way more flops than gems like the 90's Captain America movie, Batman and Robin, Steel, The Punisher, Elektra, and many many more. Aside from X-Men 1 and 2 and Spider-Man 1 and 2, it wasn't until 2008 when Christopher Nolan released the second installment in his Batman trilogy The Dark Knight, and Marvel released the first installment in what would be the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man when the true dawn of the superhero movie began. Marvel continued their shared universe with Thor and Captain America, and DC finished their Dark Knight trilogy only to start their own cinematic universe with 2013's Man of Steel. And it wasn't just these two, FOX kept going with X-Men, Sony had a whole new Spider-Man franchise with Andrew Garfield before they made a deal with Marvel to inculde Spider-Man in the MCU. It became a dream, seeing all those characters on screen every year. But where does it go from there?
Many liken the superhero genre to the Old West genre, movies that had an insane amount of installments but eventually faded away. Superhero fatigue is a term used by many now, with many more asking how it will end. But the truth is, it's complicated. It's not just a matter of when the general audience will be sick of seeing superheroes, because there's no sign of that anywhere these days with how much those movies are making at the box office. But it's more a matter of, when will the audience get sick of seeing the same thing over and over?
That's a better question, and a big sign of that is how much these genres are trying to figure out new ways to deliver those stories. The X-Men franchise was pretty one-note until Deadpool and Logan came along and completely changed the game. They were so different, and that's what made them successful. And yet again, it looks like FOX's New Mutants will take that route, having more of a horror setting. The MCU always finds new ways to change up the game, Ant-Man was more of a heist film, The Winter Soldier was more of political thriller. Then there's the DCEU, who's had a rough couple of years between the mixed reception of Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, to the underwhelming performance of Justice League at the box office. The DCEU followed a more dark and gritty route with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, then realized they needed to change it up and Wonder Woman was a glimmer of light and hope in the otherwise dark universe. They took a different route with Justice League as well, opting for more humor and a lighter tone. But where does it go from there?
The answer is simple, unless the films find new ways to be creative and different and bold, the audience will eventually get bored with it and say no to superheroes all together. Like the somewhat dead Western genre, it will keep going downhill as long as it's not trying to find innovate ways to go up the hill. We have been seeing Batman and Superman on the big screen since the 60's and 70's, but the difference is how different they are. You look at Adam West's work and Ben Affleck now and they are completely different. Same with Christopher Reeve and the current Henry Cavill. And we will never stop seeing those two heroes on the big screen. Same with superheroes in general, even if we do get franchise fatigue, they will not suddenly stop. In the midst of the Western fatigue, we had stars like Django Unchained. So a franchise will never simply stop for good, it just has to keep us interested enough in it.