Cultural Commentary: Superhero Movies Prevail


By Molly Freeman

Additional Contributor: Bill Tressler

Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.

In the next five years, more than 40 comic books movies are scheduled to premiere in theaters around the world. It’s safe to say that those properties have become box office heavy weights.

But is that truly a good thing?

BTR’s own Molly Freeman and Bill Tressler break down the superhero movie trend and respond to naysayers.

Molly’s Take

Superhero movies in Hollywood have dug in their heels and they’re not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. However, that’s not to say these films have replaced creativity with giant robots and CGI.

Last year’s Captain America: The Winter Solider was an update on ’70s era political thrillers while David Ayer has compared his upcoming Suicide Squad film to the classic 1967 action movie, The Dirty Dozen.  Additionally, The Flash’s first season on The CW tells a compelling and character-driven science fiction story about time travel that both honors the comics and entertains new fans.

Of course, superheroes aren’t for everyone, but they aren’t necessarily pushing out other types of films. Independent movies have also seen a boom in recent years, and the Academy Awards honors all sorts of artistic endeavors.

As such, as Hollywood grows, so too does the number of superhero movies. Even those that don’t appreciate a good superhero flick will have to accept that fact.

Eric Vespe of Ain’t It Cool News said it best when he tweeted, “Man oh man do the stuffy, cynical assholes who hate Star Wars and comic books movies have a miserable couple of decades ahead of them.”

Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit.

Bill’s Take

In the last few years, superheroes have become juggernauts of the film industry. A genre that was once responsible for the occasional summer blockbuster now yields multiple big-budget films every year.

While there are some who bemoan this trend, citing a lack of variety or originality, the results can’t be argued with. Film studios are reeling in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and with an almost-endless stable of masked vigilantes to roll out, they won’t be stopping anytime soon.

The formula works. Moviegoers are drawn to big-budget blockbusters, especially ones set in familiar universes, like those of classic heroes like Batman or Superman. Moreover, audiences love episodic content; it keeps the storyline going and gives them a reason to come back.

Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.

Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to Marvel’s hugely popular The Avengers, finished its opening weekend with $191.3 million, the second biggest box office launch in history. (It has since grossed roughly $874 million worldwide.) The Avengers and Iron Man 3, both Marvel properties as well, hold the number one and three spots, respectively. With decades worth of published comic books as their source, film companies have countless storylines that they could bring to life in the form of multi-million dollar trilogies.

Simply put, movies are a form of entertainment, and what’s more entertaining than watching super-powered heroes and villains battle it out in a world drastically different from our own? It’s an excellent way to escape the stresses of daily life–and there’s nothing wrong with that.