It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No it’s … Superman! And Batman! And Wonder Woman and Cyborg and the Flash and Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel and – wait a minute.
So it’s a pretty sweet time to be a superhero fan. For the first time in a while, our favorite tighty-whitey-wearing vigilantes are getting serious mainstream recognition. Marvel blockbusters dominate the box office each year and, with the recent acquisition of the “Supergirl” TV show by CBS, there will soon be a superhero-related show on every major television network.
If all goes according to plan, we may see at least 31 new superhero movies by 2020. To put that into perspective, someone in 7th grade right now, will be entering their freshman year of college by the time the last planned DC movie, “Cyborg,” comes out. Do you feel old yet?
Let’s make one thing clear: I love superheroes. I love superheroes. I could tell you anything there is to know about the history of Batman and Robin (Fun fact: There have been 5 Robins in the main continuity, one of which was a girl. However, counting alternate universes there have been at least 8 confirmed robins, three of which were girls)
If I were to add up all the money I have spent on comic books over the years, we could probably pay the national debt thrice over.
I really, really, really love superheroes.
And I’m worried about their future in the movie industry.
Marvel Studios did something special when they started their franchise in 2008 with “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk.” They pushed the envelope on what it meant to be a superhero movie by focusing on the heart over mindless action. After so many flops like “Catwoman” and “Batman & Robin,” their risk paid off; the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise is now the second highest grossing movie franchise of all time.
But long-time fans are starting to wonder if Marvel hasn’t forgotten exactly what made them so successful to begin with.
With rumors of “Iron Man 4” swirling about and third movies for both Captain America and Thor, things are starting to seem a little deja vu-ish.
The problem is the market is getting oversaturated. It doesn’t matter how good the individual movies are. Eventually, we’re all going to get sick of seeing dudes in spandex jumping over buildings. I can only watch cities vaguely resembling New York getting saved so many times. Everyone is jumping on this bandwagon because it sells, but what’s going to happen when that bandwagon breaks down completely?
If superheroes are going to survive in the mainstream, they need to continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be a superhero film.
This is one thing DC is still learning how to do, if last year’s soulless romp known as “Man of Steel” is anything to go by. Marvel deviated from its standard formula a little with “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” but only time will tell if directors and producers can keep the good momentum going.
I love superheroes because they are reminders that good and justice can always triumph in an increasingly complex and unjust world. They remind us that the capacity to do good lay within every single one of us, whether we have super strength or not. To see them reduced to little more than a money-making gimmick is disheartening.
Then again, I may be getting ahead of myself. Aside from a few lackluster movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty solid so far. DC movies have not been as solid, but they still have time to turn themselves around.
Hopefully they can get these trains rolling before they crash so badly even Superman can’t save them.
Rosie Brown is a sophomore prospective journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.