3 years ago1,000+ Views

Can you really have too much of a good thing?

Marvel has been dominating theaters for the past few years. And their acclaim is not undeserved. They're the highest-grossing franchise for a reason. They work with brilliant actors, directors, and designers. And say what you will about Age of Ultron and Ant-Man (I already have, here and here), even when Marvel is at their worst, their films are still better than some others' best.

Even their most vocal critics will agree: Marvel is on a winning streak.

They've got a film lineup planned through 2019. Three televison series. Enough merchandise to fill an entire comic convention. By all measurable qualifications, they're doing all right. But can they make it last?

Will audience fatigue mean the end of the superhero genre?

It's an old axiom of writing teachers: there are no new stories. And sure, when you distill any hero movie, you get basically the same story. Hero faces an antagonist. Hero defeats antagonist. It's very rare to see a hero lose at the end of a film.
It's a little predictable. But you could apply the same formula to almost any film you've seen. Precious. Remember the Titans. The Princess Bride. If we've essentially been watching the same story over and over again, there's got to be something else that is keeping audiences from getting bored.

What do I mean by variety?

Of course, there are other movies in the world. And right now, there's space for them. The Hobbit, Maleficent, Divergent, How to Train Your Dragon 2. In some ways, all those films were competing with Marvel last year. And while they didn't see the same absurd level of success, they definitely didn't tank. There's definitely a limit to the number of films people are going to see in a year, but Marvel doesn't seem to be pushing against that limit. If anything, they're raising the bar, encouraging other films to be more competitive.

That includes films within the franchise, too.

Sometimes it's something as simple as a palette cleanser. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise success- but it really shouldn't have been. In 2014 Marvel studios released Captain America: Winter Soldier. Columbia released Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Fox released X-Men: Days of Future Past. In comparison to those other superhero films, Guardians was a breath of fresh air. It wasn't a sequel. It featured a band of misfits and antiheroes who in a lot of ways had no business saving the day. It was weird and funny and felt aesthetically different from the other comics adaptations that year.
So, what does Marvel need to do to keep up their winning streak?

IMO, they need to focus on quality over quantity.

They need to refocus their plan. Right now, the emphasis has been on dominating the field. And it's worked because in a lot of ways, other studios can't compete with them. They're connecting every movie and tv series, almost blackmailing audiences into seeing everything they release. Because if you haven't seen Ant-Man, you won't have all the information you need when you go see Civil War, which you'll need to see for Thor 3 to make any sense (as the picture above demonstrates, it's reached the point where it's weird when there's *not* crossover). They've got all the power of Disney behind them, and riding the success of Iron Man has been a simple and effective strategy.

However, DC isn't sitting this one out.

They've been lagging behind, but their showing at SDCC this year proves that DC is determined to be a real competitor in the coming years. Based on the plans that DC and Marvel have, there will be over 40 films based on comic books in the next six years (via). As the genre becomes more saturated, will the superhero bubble finally pop?

Not if studios are smart.

This is where variety comes in. The thing about genres is that they're actually pretty vague. Legally Blonde, Harold & Maude, and The Princess Bride are all romantic comedies, but you probably wouldn't put them on the same list. (Legally Blonde was riding the 'girl power' movement of the 90s, Harold & Maude is a dark comedy for hippies, and The Princess Bride is as much about the adventure genre as it is a rom-com).

The same is true of superhero movies- or it should be.

Sure, Marvel *can* keep producing Iron Man movies, but they really need to keep innovating if they want to stay on top. Their plans for Black Panter and Captain Marvel films suggest they're already aware of this. But it's not as simple as showcasing the talents of an actor that isn't a white man named Chris. Just like Spider-Man is often also a coming-of-age story and Winter Soldier was a political conspiracy thriller, Marvel is going to need to explore other genres and aesthetics. Otherwise, they'll just end up competing with themselves every year.

For now it's a waiting game.

Marvel is delaying production of the Black Panther movie so that they can include Spider-Man in their schedule. With DC making a concerted effort to compete, will Marvel be producing enough variety in time? Or do you think audiences will get bored first?
@Karthikkrazzy1 I think what you're saying makes a lot of sense! Personally there are some titles from Marvel that I love and some that I don't love at all (to put it lightly) and I am starting to resent the fact that they're so interlocked that I can't enjoy what I like unless I watch everything. It seems like it's working for now- they're making a ridiculous amount of money, but how long can that model last? Before people get annoyed and stop watching everything? I think what's frustrating me most is that it feels like the fans are required to know everything but the creators aren't! There was so much character development in Iron Man 3 and Captain America 2 that Age of Ultron totally ignored! We're supposed to have seen both of them but ignore everything we saw? I think there's definitely a concern that they'll overdo the superhero genre. I'm glad to see that Jessica Jones is getting a chance, since it's related but really different from everything they've done before. They have a big enough franchise that they don't have to focus on telling the same story over and over.
This is the article i'm looking for. As a matter of fact i got sick of marvel. They are releasing 4-5 movies in a year and the best part is forcing their audience to watch every movie the release( even the post credits part) which is quite horrible. Personally i hate Thor movies (fans no offense) . If i have to watch a particular marvel movie, i should go through other sh** too which is pain in a**. I remember something in this situation. When Christopher Nolan was asked about post credit scenes in movies, he simply said that its not a Gentleman's play . I totally agree with his statement. On the other side Dc is better in this case. They don't throw 5 super hero movies at our faces in a year and they won't interlink their films. But lately Dc began to copy marvel ( spin-off like The Arrow and flash in which they bring the characters and situations from other shows) which spooks me out. These guys marvel in particular has to cut off their movies or else people get sick of seeing super heroes all the year. This would give a chance for other franchise to do well at box office.@shannonl5
@poojas it REALLY is. We definitely go through cycles. Right now it's the superhero movie. Before that it was the sports movie, and before that it was the rom-com. It seems like all these competing companies are trying to extend this streak for as long as possible, but I hope they go about it in a smart way... or we'll all burn out before we get to Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman!
"40 films based on comic books in the next six years" Dang! That's a TON of films.
@Karthikkrazzy1 this is very true. We went through a sports movie trend for a while. Before that it was the rom-com fad. Writers get lazy and just keep delivering the same story over and over and people get sick of it. They can keep it going but only if they keep innovating
View more comments