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When will comic book movies die down?

March 25th, 2013 by Michael Leonard 1 Comment

Genres have a heyday. Gangster films had the 1930s, the Western had the 50s and 60s, and soon we may add the Super hero film and the 2000s to that list. While we are now in the 2010s (the decade we will call the teens anyone?) it still takes a while for us to cast aside the remnants of the decade before. For examples look at TV shows and movies from the early 80s and 90s and tell me they do not seem like they were made in the 70s and 80s. I can see a time when people think back nostalgically to the days when we had a flood of comic adaptations and telling their grandkids about how great it was to go see so many superheroes brought to the screen just as our parents and grandparents can talk about the Westerns they saw at the cinema growing up.

Of course I am not suggesting that we will see the genre disappearing all together but if patterns of film tastes stay true we will see it ceasing to be the dominate genre at the multiplex and I think it’ll be soon. It was last year that like an apocalyptic preacher heralding the end of days I foretold the end is neigh for the comic book movie and I was wrong. It seemed so clear to me; The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, and Marvel’s Avengers all hitting over the course of a few months, saturation point for superheroes seemed well in sight. Instead, all of these films were big successes for their respective studios and meant that sequels, spin offs, and reboots are sure to follow.

This year alone will see Iron man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Man of Steal hit cinemas and that is without even thinking of the films in production and pre-production now and will only reach our screens in another year or so. If they are hits, even more adaptations will get the green light as the company executives see we are still hungry for more.

I think what happened was I was a few years out. Perhaps, like the Western, Superhero movies will last a couple of decades rather than one before the decline hit. Nevertheless, it will hit. It may just take another few years for audiences to decide we are sick of so many of them. Like a spoiled child sick of playing with the same toy, we will demand something new. It will only need a couple of these juggernauts to run aground with audiences for the money men of the studios to decided they need to find something that the audience wants to see more than heroes in capes and masks.

But will the decline be such a bad thing? Now when we see a Western hit the cinema screens it is because it has taken a fresh approach to the genre, has an interesting tale to tell, or in some cases has a good gimmick. We are not being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of similar, if not identical, Cowboy films featuring the same stars, playing the same characters just with a change of name. We get Westerns like The Dollars Trilogy, Unforgiven, Tombstone, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Just maybe when superheroes stop ruling the cinema they will get their own examples like that, films that are more about doing something interesting and new than just giving the people the same stuff with a different name and that has got to be something for us all to look forward to.

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A combined fandom of comics, movies, TV shows and novels have led to Michael having a very unproductive life so far. But he has decided to put these loves to some use by actually writing about them. Hailing from the distant and enchanted land of Northern Ireland, few things in life make him as happy as reading a good comic, or watching a good show, or complaining about bad ones. When not doing that Michael spends his time traveling the world seeking the means to fight injustice, or just sleeping.

  • kaos

    Though i do agree that the genre will decline, i don’t see it ever truly going away. Just as there was a bit of a lull in proper big blockbuser action films what we got was some more original drama based thrillers with some neat action scenes to keep it visualy intresting.

    Being that cbm’s aren’t an actul genre more of an unoffical sub-genre since most come under the Action/Adventure heading, i see them as an extention of hollywood trying to keep the Action genre fresh so a new take may come in and be more widespread at some point i don’t see them dieing off till the muti-billions stop rolling in.

    At the moment we are at the height of cbm’s with the overall quality and quantity being of high to good standard, so not really sure why you would feel or even want them to die down yet, i see at the very least ten years in them yet before we hit a true overkill.

    Even at that, plenty of cbm’s could get made “under the rader” of general audence knowlage of less farmular titles and charaters, this could result in less traditonal “super hero” type titles and more akin to Road to Perdition style films. Or even more indie styles being used in the traditonal super hero films like a live action version of Gotham Knights using several diffrent mini stories all created in a diffrent style/mood and bringing them together to create a full film, that kind of thing i would personal love to see done.

    Until all these ideas and diffrent possible routes have been used and done to death, as long as the studios keep doing reboots and creating new and fresh approches at diffrent charaters cbm’s could last for a good 20/40 years.

    Any fan of comics shouldn’t really be heralding the end or getting bored, if you are then it’s a lack of passion dieing in yourself i would be most worried about.

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