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Superhero Hustle (or “The Bursting Bubble”)
February 24, 2014Posted by on
It is quite the golden age for superhero films, isn’t it? Just last week, the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy dropped. While I have reservations about the film itself, I cannot deny the fact that it has gotten significant buzz. Who would have thought five years ago that a D-list property such as GotG would be getting a summer blockbuster treatment? Not me, that’s for sure. And various reports suggest that other lower-tier comic book properties are in development in addition to more well-known characters.
This should be a comic fan’s dream come true. Though, as I’ve discovered every now and then, that isn’t always the case when you have people complaining about Marvel vs. DC or the different production companies who hold different rights to characters. In the end, does it matter? We currently live in a world where multiple properties are being released every year. Sure, some are better than others, but to complain about how they “should” be done seems just greedy. Fans should be thrilled by the idea that so many are coming out (save the complaining until after the movie is released).
Even more impressive about this superhero boom is to look at some of the cast these films have been getting. Renowned celebrated actors such as Anthony Hopkins (Thor), Robert Redford (Captain America 2), Michael Douglas (Ant Man), Michael Caine (Dark Knight Trilogy), Russell Crowe (Man of Steel), and Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3) are signing up to do these pictures. Before recently, could you have imagined any of these prestige thespians to do something like this? True, there is a slight precedent for this in the earlier Batman series, but this new wave of superhero films is a different beast.
For that matter, look at the general A-list stars taking roles in these flicks like Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. Remember when Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Iron Man and people thought he was slumming it? The joke’s on those people. Now, it is tough to see any high profile movie that doesn’t star someone who didn’t previously play a superhero. I mean, just look at American Hustle.
Maybe for these actors it is an easy money grab. Who knows? But if that is the case, it is really telling on these film’s popularity and how well they are connecting with general audiences. Doing these movies might just be too tempting to resist for an actor.
But despite this golden age, I have to wonder: when will the bubble burst? Like with the western before it, general audiences will eventually tire of the superhero scene. I’m sure there will always be a Batman or Superman flick every few years, but will this boom last long enough for an Avengers 10 or obscure properties like a Vibe movie?* I really doubt it. So when will that be? When will the burn out happen? Up until a few weeks ago, I would have said 2015 with Avengers 2 and the Man of Steel sequel coming out at the same time. However, with the latter being pushed back a year, I am not sure now. These sorts of genres tend to have a shelf life of about 15 years, and we are nearing that end (if you figure in the beginnings with 2000’s X-Men).
In any event, I hope movie producers such as Avi Arad and Kevin Feige realize the money trail will not last forever and will notice the signs early enough to wrap up their mega franchises. It would be a total shame for something as ambitious and successful as the Marvel Studios movies to peter out instead of going out on top.
I don’t want to come off as a hater or doomsayer. For the most part, I like these films, but the immense amount of them do make me numb to the genre at times. The bubble is always biggest just before it bursts. Right now, this superhero golden age has gotten pretty big.
*In fairness, who wouldn’t want to see a Vibe movie? He has the powers of break dancing! Get on that Warner Bros!