2018 is going to be the year of superhero movies. These comic books adaptations have grown to become immensely popular over the last ten years. With seven live action comic book movies, and countless more animated ones this year, the aforementioned statement becomes increasingly apparent. Though it seems that along with the their fan following, their share of haters are growing as well.
The elite of Hollywood are among the haters. Well known actors and directors like Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson, Ridley Scott and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu are speaking out against them. They are criticising its lacking complexity and character development and for being filled with childish gags. They are pissed at the idea that “terrible” movies like these can earn more than a billion dollars in ticket sales.
What they don’t realise is that superhero movies are no longer the summer fancy that they were ten years ago. Back then you’d watch it for fun and forget about it immediately. They have grown into a serious genre of their own; no longer satisfactorily described by “action/drama”. Every genre has their fans and super-movies currently have the largest base right now. So why is there so much hate?
It’s because the older generation loves to hate us. For everything that millennials and generation Z use, there is always one grumpy old person stating their old ways are better. It’s a generational thing. The audience favours the new. The old have to shape up or ship out. This generates fear. That fear leads to hostility. That hostility is directed at youngsters and the things they love
For those still doubting, Shakespeare wasn’t adored by critics in his time either. He was called out for plays having “lack of complexity and character development and being filled with childish gags”. Now he is regarded as one the greatest English playwrights to ever live. His critics even include Leo Tolstoy, who wrote a 100 page critique on his pathetic plays.
“I have striven hard to open English eyes to the emptiness of Shakespeare’s philosophy, to the superficiality and second-handedness of his morality, to his weakness and incoherence as a thinker, to his snobbery, his vulgar prejudices, his ignorance, his disqualifications of all sorts for the philosophic eminence claimed for him.” -Leo Tolstoy on Shakespeare
That being said, I don’t completely disagree with these celebrities. With so many superhero movies this year, it does feel like the industry is being flooded with them now. Not every one of them is as amazing it’s revenue makes it appear to be. While movies like Logan and Wonder Woman rose above the competition with exceptional themes and stories, the rest ranged from “entertaining” to “unoriginal and a straight up cash grab”. Unique stories get replaced with fancy CGI, and the plots to movies lose coherence and originality.
Superhero fatigue is starting to set in. The daily updates by Marvel or DC about minor news on their upcoming movies gets sickening after a while. Even genuinely thought provoking sci-fi movies like Blade Runner 2049 wasn’t the box office success it deserved to be while the money Star Wars and Marvel movies are earning ensures that Disney is going to put out at least five of these each year until the sun goes out.
The solution to this conundrum is simple and in two parts:
- Studios should keep making unique movies. Not new characters, but new styles of storytelling. Fun fact- the director of Logan, James Mangold is one among the list of haters. He refused to make a run of the mill comic book movie and thankfully, he succeeded. It proved that superhero movies can be amazing without going for the conventional templates that movies normally run. Deadpool, The Dark Knight and the upcoming New Mutants are also examples of a unique style that directors can take to make a movie a success.
- The second part is even simpler. I’ve already mentioned it before. Superhero movies are a “genre” now. You don’t expect a horror movie fan to watch every horror movie that comes out.
The truth is that we watch ALL these movies out of a fear being left out. Studios aggressively expand on their cinematic universes. Many plot points in the current movie turns out to be teasers for a movie they’ll sell next year. We now stick with franchises more out of obligation and less out of genuine interest.
A few years ago there would be 3 super-flicks at best, so avoiding those movies was a sin and you’d be missing out on the fun you’re friends are having. But today is different. I don’t have time to watch everything, and I doubt I will.
This year I’ve decided that I’m only watching the 3-4 movies that I’ve been looking forward for. I stopped watching Transformers and Fast and the Furious series a few years ago for that very reason. [I hear they’re gonna drive their cars into space in the next one.]
Thus I’ve made my new year resolution 3 weeks late: try diversifying my viewing habits. I haven’t watched any movies so far. [I wanted to catch The Post but I was in the middle of exams when it ran]. I have another 49 weeks to go and this seems like a resolution I will actually be able to keep for once.
For the reader I have only one suggestion- Don’t listen to what other people say about your habits. Do what you love and be unabashed about it. Every genre has their exceptional and their share of unappealing movies, even Oscar nominated ones. [Don’t lie. You didn’t sit through The Revenant for two and a half hours of landscape shots. You did it for Leo.]