Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tip of the Hat-Are Superhero Movies Destine to Fail?

The Superhero genre is booming! You will find no better proof of this then Marvel Studios as it is one of the hottest studios in the market today. The superhero based film studio has had a variety of hits and Marvel seems to be only picking up momentum with anticipated films like Avengers: Age of Ultron; not to mention the studio's upcoming Phase 3. Thanks to Marvel, other studios are expanding on this concept; from Sony's Spider-Man to WB's DC Cinematic Universe. It has come to the point where we now have multiple superhero movies coming out a year. A cased point is next year as 2016 will have over 7 superhero movies hitting theaters.

With this major insurgency of superhero movies, some may question the integrity of Hollywood. Over the years, many have accused the film industry for not coming out with more original movies; and these naysayer are not wrong with their accusations. Since the birth of blockbusters, Hollywood has had a tendency of using these big budgeted films as a main source of business; which some may argue takes away from the artistic values of cinema. It would appear that superhero movies are but the latest cash cows for Hollywood. So maybe the question we as moviegoers have to ask is do superhero movies take away from the creativity found in movies and is this genre just a trend?

In this situation, I see this issue from two areas. First there is the comic book fan in me. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed superheroes ( I have Burton's Batman to thank for that). While I did not started reading comics actively til I was in high school, characters such as Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men have played a major role in my pop culture growing up. So when movies about these character get created, I cannot help but be excited.

However, I can see why film buff prefer movies that are more artistic and expressive in their filmmaking. These kind of films bring an artistic value to the movie world and blockbuster such as the superhero genre may take away from the quality that the industry can express. This brings me to other area which is the moviegoer side and my definition of a good movie. As a moviegoer, I try to look for this genuine quality in a film. This factor is not narrowed to a particular type of movie. Some films can be complex while others can just be entertaining. I believe that a good movie can come from anywhere; whether it is a big blockbuster or an independent film.

So where does this leave the superhero genre? Are these movies just a crutch for the film industry? If someone were to make this argument in the early 2000's, I would have understood. In 2002, Sony released Spider-Man a film that has been regarded as a landmark for the superhero genre. The film was such a hit that when superhero movies in this time period hit theaters, several of them followed either the same pattern or tone that was created in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. It was not until films such as Batman Begins and Iron Man hit theaters did we see a new kind of movie for the genre.

Now the superhero genre has changed and I feel it is for the better. While many see studio attempt to make cinematic universes like Marvel Studios has, I see this as a positive direction even if some are just trying to cash in. What I see are franchises that are getting smarter. For the longest time, the concept of sequels has always been to keep a franchise going. The problem with this idea is that while it does continue the series, it begins to lack in complexity. There is a tendency that series consistently rehash the same plot over and over again. For the time being, the new franchises in the superhero genre have not fallen prey to this. The superhero movies of today are learning how to expand their respective series by having stories that branch into many films. While this does mean that more superhero films will set up movies that come after them. Yet I feel that if this idea leads to bigger and more complex stories, then I think it will work in favor for these franchises by giving us a series of films that feel connected and have a purpose. Plus who is to say there will not be any standalone superhero films in the coming years.

Along with this concept of bigger storytelling is just the quality that the new breed of superhero movies represent. Last year I found that all the superhero films had a certain quality behind them. Yes these films had sequences worthy of any blockbuster, but with these action packed moments was also a blend of creativity and entertainment. All of the 2014 Marvel films (and by that I mean all the films dawning the Marvel logo) found ways of standing out to me; which I felt led to experiences that any good film should be able to provide.

The superhero genre continues to grow year by year. While business is booming for these films, there will come a time where this trend will die down. However,  I prefer looking at a glass half full oppose to half empty. This genre continues to evolve and if it the quality of superhero movies continue to improve. I do not expect to see the likes of Marvel or DC nominated for any awards; but I feel that they do not need to be. As long as this genre continues to release good movies then this Film Adventurer will be satisfy. For now though I prefer to enjoy this new journey for the superhero genre and wait to see what happens next.