Too many superhero movies says Skywalker

Not so super: The Independent called Justice League “infantile” and “overblown”. © Warner Bros.

Are there too many superhero films? Critics have savaged a new blockbuster starring classic heroes Batman and Superman. Now some think superhero movies are killing creativity in the cinema.

The hotly anticipated Justice League swoops into cinemas today. In the $300 million blockbuster a superhero dream team including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman join forces to save humanity from extermination.

And while the group prove quite good at handling super-villains, they have suffered defeat at the hands of the critics. Robbie Collin in The Telegraph, called the film an “embarrassment”; Vanity Fair ’s Richard Lawson said he was sorry about the waste of time in making it — and seeing it. Ouch.

But could there be more to these reviews than just the movie itself?

Actor Mark Hamill, better known as Jedi knight Luke Skywalker, has claimed that there are just too many superhero movies. He says they have reached “the point of over-saturation”.

For example, this year Spider-Man: Homecoming became the sixth Spider-Man movie released in the last 15 years. The web-slinging hero also had a cameo in Captain America: Civil War, and is going to appear in Avengers: Infinity War. If that is not enough, spin-offs about Spider-Man’s arch enemies Venom and Morbius are also in the pipeline.

Certainly, Spider-Man has legions of loyal fans — but there may be deeper forces driving our superhero binge. A report by The Economist claims that digital technology has unfairly “skewed” audiences towards big blockbusters.

According to the report, film lovers have never had so much to choose from — the internet making thousands of movies instantly available on streaming services. But with such dizzying choice we tend to shy away from new genres, instead choosing big brand movies with familiar characters.

Choices are also driven by algorithms. Sites like Netflix recommend similar films to those which users have already seen. This ultimately encourages companies to keep making the same kind of movies. The result: endless superhero blockbusters.

And the end is not in sight. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has claimed that the superhero “narrative exists on a never-ending continuum”.

But is this a good thing?

Batman Begins, again.

Of course, say some. Good triumphing over evil; courage facing adversity; refusing to accept defeat — the universal themes these works tackle will never go out of fashion. Plus the films are better than ever: according to the website Rotten Tomatoes, four of the five greatest superhero movies ever were made this year.

We have had enough, others reply. When studios are not rebooting franchises for the third time, they are digging up irrelevant caped crusaders from the margins of comic-book history (who had really heard of Ant-Man?) Cinema should push our creative boundaries — not endlessly recycle clichés that have been kicking around for decades.

You Decide

  1. Are there too many superhero movies?
  2. Who is the greatest superhero?

Activities

  1. Imagine you have been asked to create a brand new superhero for a movie. What powers would your hero have? What would he or she be called? What would they look like?
  2. Read Lance Ulanoff’s article on Mashable in Become An Expert. Do you agree that there are too many superhero movies? Using no more than three sentences write down why you agree or disagree.

Some People Say...

“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Marvel Studios is owned by The Walt Disney Company, who produced all of the top five grossing films of 2016. Out of the top ten grossing films for that year, four were superhero movies: Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, and Suicide Squad.
What do we not know?
The reviews for Justice League are not good, but we do not know how well it will do at the box office. Regardless of how it performs, Warner Bros. have a number of other projects in production including Wonder Woman 2, and Aquaman which focus around individual characters from the Justice League film.

Word Watch

15 years
Tobey Maguire played the hero in the original 2001 Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield took on the role in the 2012 reboot, before Tom Holland became the third person to play the part earlier this year.
Morbius
A vampire villain who first appeared in the Spider-Man comics in 1971.
Algorithms
A set of rules that a computer follows to make calculations and solve problems.
Marvel Studios
The studio has been owned by The Walt Disney Company since 2009. Their films focus on heroes such as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor.
Year
From the highest ranked they were: Wonder Woman, Logan, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. The other film in the top five is The Dark Knight, released in 2008.
Ant-Man
The subject of a 2015 Marvel Studios film. Ant-Man has the power to shrink himself and others to the size of an ant.