Superheroes – been there, done that?

With the release of Marvel’s next big flick Avengers: Age of Ultron fast approaching, Isabella Batkovic begs the question- is the superhero genre wearing thin?

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The facts: Between now and 2020, Marvel and DC will be releasing approximately 30 new films based on their respective superhero properties.

Hollywood, is it not more than a little ambitious to plan five years’ worth of similar content with the assumption that everyone will be rushing to the cinema to quench their so-called ‘sci-fi thirst’?

Gambit. Suicide Squad. Shazam. Inhumans. Cyborg.

Not ringing any bells? These are just some of the movies scheduled for production, and many would argue they are too obscure and unfamiliar to hold their own in an environment saturated by wildly popular characters like Batman or Iron Man.

Fellow cinephile and Marvel/DC enthusiast, Brodhi Moore couldn’t disagree more.

“Slap a Marvel sticker on anything, and people will flock to see it,” Mr. Moore said.

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Take James Gunn’s 2014 hit, Guardians of the Galaxy for example. The film featured a talking raccoon, a murmuring tree and Chris Pratt, best known as Andy from Parks & Recreation. With little hype or advertising surrounding the odd mix of characters and atypical storyline, the film Hulk-smashed all expectations.

Numbers don’t lie: According to Box Office Mojo, the blockbuster grossed $774,176,600 worldwide. This just proves that people will go and see anything by Marvel.

“If I saw every one of these films in the next five years (which I will), I will be spending a minimum of $300,” Mr. Moore said.

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Looking at these figures and the large fan base, it is clear why the executives at Sony, Marvel Studios, and 20th Century Fox want to keep the superhero genre alive.

Not-so-fun fact: Of the 30 titles to be released over the next five years, more than 12 are remakes or sequels.

A little sci-fi never killed anybody (except Greedo, am I right? Han shot first…), but a little bit of originality wouldn’t go astray. Under a new Marvel-Sony partnership, Spider-Man will once again be reinvented, and Andrew Garfield is not expected to reprise the role. That’s right folks, we will once again be seeing a Spider-Man reboot. *sigh*

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Is this not getting a little stale Hollywood? Is originality your kryptonite, so to speak?

Social commentary: Popular YouTube channel CinemaSins (Jeremy) made some interesting observations in one of its ‘Dear Hollywood’ videos concerning the creation of original material. Citing films such as Unbreakable (2000) and Chronicle (2012), the superhero genre has been used in unique ways before. These movies are far removed from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but still manage to create something superhero-like using unconventional twists.

“There’s a pretty finite amount of content. Perhaps it is time to break out. What about a Marvel horror film? Imagine going to a superhero film and actually being scared. That would be totally badass AND something never seen before,”  Mr. Moore suggested.

Look at the most recent winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture. Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) explored aspects of the genre in a very original way.  According to blogger, Edward Davis, Iñárritu “fuses the bifurcated superhero trope of secret identity and super-self as a construct to explore rich ideas about solipsism.”

It would seem originality is not dead, but with executives and producers calling dibs on anything and everything with the Marvel or DC brand name, it has definitely been put on the back-burner. Eventually, comic book material will be exhausted  and writers may be called upon to actually CREATE a new superhero if revenue is to be maintained.

Sidenote: If Ant-Man can be turned into a feature-length film, anything is possible…

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Last words: Yes, the superhero genre is interesting and the visual effects are incredible, but there comes a time when “too much of a good thing” can be detrimental to a brand.

There are eight words no producer, director, or film studio wants to hear:

“If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”

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Inventiveness may be a concept the world deserves, but apparently it’s not the one it needs right now.

Signed, your friendly neighbourhood cinephile, Isabella.