Have we reached the height of the superhero property zeitgeist? Will we see a decline or backlash? The jury’s out and others have already been weighing in on this issue for a while now… but after the last two big superheroes movies, I’m starting to wonder.
It’s possible. The prevalence of the superhero genre film/TV series seems to be taking up a fairly decent sized slice of the entertainment pie. And though some think that these types of properties will be around for some time, others have already begun to claim that they will go the way of the western, a genre that once dominated the box office and the TV screen, but which we see only sparingly these days.
Add to this the big divide between those who loved BvS: Dawn of Justice and those who didn’t, plus the now lukewarm early reviews of X-Men: Age of Apocalypse… maybe we are cresting over the edge with the superhero genre films.
I was thinking about this concept – even before I read news of the Inhumans being removed from Marvel’s film slate, and when I watched BvS; DoJ and also – more recently – while watching Captain America: Civil War.
The news that The Inhumans film has been removed from the Marvel/Disney film docket may not be an indicator of a ‘audiences getting tired of superheroes’ — and Marvel is perhaps not averting a decline or backlash – but attempting something more akin to lightening the load — but that’s just my faint impression. The way that films get greenlit and released is a process I have little knowledge of, and I can’t even imagine the conversations and headaches that occur in the Marvel movie bullpen when it comes to the schedule that keeps the machine rolling along as it does. It’s no surprise the Inhumans have been removed from the list, as they’ve been dominating the story arc in Marvels Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series.
The Inhumans – at least for me – were always a bit of an strange mix. I knew of the X-men first, and to me at least, the Inhumans just seemed to be a a ‘weird tales’ version of the mutant team. They were the cast offs, the circus freaks and bizarro oddballs. The way they gained their powers, exposure to the Terrigen Mists, always smacked of eccelerated mutation to me – and so, they were mutants. But, we already had the X-Men… so why confuse everyone with this new type of mutant? And they also seemed to have a lot in common with Kirby’s New Gods… but maybe that’s because they were drawn in the same distinctive Kirby style.
Of course, part of me understood it was the comics creators trying to create something new to bolster sales, but already I had my favorites = Captain America, the Avengers, Power-Man and Black Panther, Werewolf-by-Night… and so never really got into the Inhumans.
Plus, at that time, I wasn’t a fan of Kirby’s art… the wide eyes and flat fingers just seemed odd to me, though Kirby drew fantastic landscapes and energy beams galore! As I got older, I grew to appreciate and love his stuff. It’s dynamic and enthralling and even today his panels have a life to them that makes everything seem to leap off the page.
But I just wasn’t thrilled by the Inhumans. And I haven’t really been able to get into the story line that involves them in the AoS series. Still, they are part of the Marvel canon and I do think – if Inhumans has/have been removed form Marvel’s slate of MCU films, will we see them in the two Infinity War movies? I’m sure we will have an answer soon enough… and if the internet buzz is true, the cast for the Infinity Wars movies is huge, so I think we might… but will we care by then?
But getting back on point, to the question of – ‘are we getting tired of superheroes?’
As Retired General Thaddeua “Thunderbolt” Ross says is the new Captain America: Civil War film – the world is dealing with (paraphrasing here) “enhanced individuals who routinely ignore sovereign borders and inflict their will wherever they choose and who, frankly, seem unconcerned with what they leave behind.”
It’s kind of like that with these films, characters and so forth – we’re getting so many heroes, who run riot across the screen… are getting so many properties that were once just comics or graphic novels that are being turned into big screen entertainment packages. There’s almost too much to keep up with.
I saw Captain America: Civil War the night before it officially opened. And I got that feeling sitting in the dark watching the film – should we be getting two or more of these films a year?
What did I think of Civil War?
I liked it, but I kept finding myself thinking more about it then actually enjoying it – not that that is a bad thing… but I kept getting that feeling in my stomach that something had shifted.
I’ve been looking forward to it, as Marvel has done a prodigious job as far as creating a cinematic version of the comic books and characters – they’ve been building these story lines and giving us audiences and fans a chance to get to know and love them. So, when the first teaser dropped and we saw Bucky/The Winter Soldier and Cap ganging up on Tony/Iron Man – it was a bit of a sinking feeling in the gut – what?! Cap’s not a bully!
I enjoyed the film, yet I did get that sinking gut feeling a few times and really big near the end.
The only thing I felt should’ve been changed (other than the young RDJ /Tony Stark little bit of creepiness) about the movie was a speech given by Sharon Carter. The words she speaks are words that Cap himself utters in the comics – and I feel he should’ve been the one to speak them – but that’s just my opinion.
In the end, I guess it’s that hard-headed conviction and code of honor that Cap has that fuels the conflict in the movie, and escalates the issues to the point of physical violence.
Or perhaps its just us as consumers and audience members that fuels it because we just have to have someone fighting someone else – over whatever personal beliefs or tragedies that demand justice/vengeance/retribution whatever label you want to give it. We are conditioned to see conflict and fighting as the penultimate entertainment. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone. I’ve written stories, been involved in projects were the main thrust of the story involves fighting and violence and all the stuff that goes along with it.
We admire strength and power. It’s hard coded in our DNA – and every story we tell is about struggle or conflict of some sort. But after thousands and thousands of years – what have learned? It seems we’ve only learned to tell the same tale to ourselves over and over and over. Because its fun or because its exciting, or because, we’re bored.
That and we don’t really live long lives, so tales are told for each new generation that say the same things the generation before them learned and that pattern will repeat itself ad infinitum until we do finally reach a stage where human lifespans exceed a hundred and fifty years or so.
When you break down the story of the film, its pretty basic.
To paraphrase the Vision: “Strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict… breeds catastrophe.”
It’s not good enough to see these people rescuing people from a burning building. Or helping evacuate a flooded town, or aiding the relief effort after an avalanche… yeah, that’s just not exciting enough.
That sinking gut feeling I got when watching this movie bothers me – because I’m supposed to like it. Cap’s a favorite hero/character of mine – I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that was a great film (again, just my opinion).
And I did enjoy the movie – the Spider-Man stuff was amazing – Tom Holland is perfect as Peter Parker. And for the first time, on screen, he really really “feels” like a teenager. The scene between him and RDJ during his “recruitment” was so well done. We should get a Tony and Peter walking around Queens movie.
I loved the banter, I loved Giant Man.
But that final sequence? I was wincing the whole time. I felt dirty and bothered and I guess that’s what I should be feeling. Why didn’t I feel that during BvS? Why didn’t I feel that during any other MCU property, including Daredevil and Jessica Jones – granted JJ made me wince but for other reasons during that final episode.
There’s an odd shift that occurs when you watch a certain type of battle or fight.
If it’s against a true evil villain, or a faceless enemy – you root for the good guys. You cheer for victory. You watch it excited and thrilled.
But here – this was like watching a fight at the family dinner table at Thanksgiving.
The ultimate goal of any film is to illicit an emotional response – to generate thoughts, questions. BvS generated a response, divided people. I’m sure others will feel the same about Civil War – heck the marketing campaign has been built around the question – whose side are you on?
In the end, what I got from the film was that – no one won – everyone lost. #ThereAreNoTeams
I disagreed with a few choices at the end of the movie – but I’ll talk about those in another forum.
I’m still trying to wrestle with my thoughts about the idea – are we getting tired of superheroes?
I don’t know… but I don’t like how my thoughts are leaning.