Is Superhero Fatigue Real?
Superhero movies have been a staple in the film industry for many years. Even in a pandemic, superhero films such as Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman are saving the box office. Spider-Man: No Way Home is the first and only one-billion-dollar film worldwide since the pandemic began in 2020. Still, there has been a debate about these films. The debate is whether or not superhero movie fatigue exists. Yes, they make a lot of money, and most of them are well-received by critics and audiences. At the same time, people feel we have too many superhero films and not enough original films. People believe that if you have seen one superhero film, you have seen it once before.
It’s understandable to believe there is some fatigue, especially with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m a big fan of the MCU and try to see every film as quickly as I can, but they get formulaic, mostly the solo films. For example, the first film of the MCU, Iron Man, is one of the best films in the MCU. Since then, many MCU solo origin films like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange have followed the same format. Does that make them bad movies? No, they are still good movies with great leads, but the formula is holding these films back from doing something special.
This formula does create the belief that all, if not most superhero films, are the same film though. The criticism is growing and eventually, people will stop watching at least solo films or wait until they come on a streaming service. Sony, with their Marvel films Venom and Morbius, is falling victim to the format. Unlike the MCU films though, they get a mixed to negative reception from critics and audiences. It’s also understandable that people want more original films. We still get original films, but many of them are on streaming services instead of theaters. Yes, superhero films are saving the theaters. At the same time, original films are being pushed out of the theaters.
The box-office numbers show that many people are not tired of comic book movies. Popular characters such as Batman and Spider-Man still make the most money. Superhero films are still doing well at the box office. Not every film will do well, but those tend to be the superhero films that are poorly received. Even if a superhero film is well received, but not great at the box office, it could still do well on streaming. The Suicide Squad struggled at the box office, despite the great reception, but did well on HBO Max. These movies are also helping streaming services with content. MCU shows on Disney + have helped the streaming service and HBO Max is following the same with DC shows like Peacemaker and future spinoffs from The Batman.
Sometimes it may not be superhero fatigue, but getting tired of the same superheroes getting movies and reboots. Take DC, for example. Batman is still popular, but some fans want to see more DC heroes get movies. For a long time, DC and Warner Bros. would focus on just Batman and Superman movies. DC has done better the last few years, giving heroes such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam their own movies, but DC fans want to see more heroes get a movie. Sometimes it’s not fatigue, but wanting to see other heroes on the big screen with new stories.
Right now, comic book films are looking toward the multiverse to change things up. Spider-Man: No Way Home changed things with the concept, and other upcoming films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Flash look to explore the multiverse. These concepts are bringing classic superhero movie characters back. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield both returned as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Patrick Stewart is all, but confirmed to return as Professor X for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Michael Keaton is returning as Batman in The Flash.
There are growing rumors that both universes could be heading towards big multiverse event films in the next few years. The new fear is how long will Marvel and DC rely heavily on the multiverse for the next few years? Could it eventually fall into a cookie-cutter scenario like other superhero movie concepts? Is nostalgia in the multiverse going to work like in Spider-Man: No Way Home, or will it backfire and start to get boring? These are things the studios need to watch out for in the next few years.
All in all, I believe there is some fatigue, but I also believe Marvel and DC are also finding ways to change things. It’s really up to the movie studios to start creating original films and franchises to combat superhero films. The popular heroes will still bring in the biggest amount of money at the box office. Outside of terrible reviews, nothing is going to stop audiences from seeing superhero films.
Do you think superhero movie fatigue is real? Let us know in the comments down below.