Genre’s come and go out of fashion but despite the wishes of the media snobs they never go away. (Sadly, neither do the media snobs.) And the media snobs really hate superhero stories. No matter what else gets said here, let’s understand who is out there ready to dance on the grave of the superhero genre. Auteurs and would-be auteurs who want to turn a spacefaring sci-fi franchise into a gangster picture or turn a comic book supervillain into a nutjob in makeup. Showrunners who just want to snap at fans for not liking a certain movie despite liking another movie that did a better job with the thing they’re upset you didn’t like in their movie. Directors who were already balking at action science fiction because every story ever is only worthy to them when it has a message with depth and meaning. They want you coming out of that theater less happy than when you walked in or they don’t feel successful because introspective and sorrow are the only “feelings” they believe a movie should convey.

Basically, self-important super-biased mega-snobs. You know, morons.

These people already hate superhero stories so when they see a superhero movie fail, pushback against the next movie, and TV shows not making the studio money they’re thrilled…despite being the parties responsible. They want you, or rather the studios, to believe that the general public is done with superheroes and now it’s time to go back to the feeling-inducing, self-reflective, over-hyped, self-indulgent passion projects that the “well done” from their peers.

Now please, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying those movies are bad. I even liked some of them in the past and others look worthwhile as well. A Man Called Otto is on the Finally Watch list and it just came out. I just needed to get that out of my system not because of the movie but because of the Hollywood mindset that looks down on anything that they don’t consider award worthy or punches sideways up. So they look at superhero movies not doing well and think that’s a good thing because it’s more money spent on the “approved” story genres. Except it’s not that we’re burned out on superhero movies. It’s that they’re currently producing crap by people who don’t want to make superhero movies and will go out of their way in interviews and on social media to let you know it. Although you can tell from the movies themselves.

First off, a “superhero movie” isn’t the same as a “comic adaptation”. Marry Me is a comic adaptation, albeit a very poor adaptation300 is a comic book adaptation. Guardians Of The Galaxy is a comic book adaptation. What neither of them are, and I could list a few others, are superhero movies. Guardians does exist in a superhero universe but the Marvel universe is more than superheroes. They and DC also have cosmic corners, horror corners, and even a few fantasy-type corners. That’s what the Marvel Cinematic Universe was doing early on. They just share a universe with Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America. In fact the early phases were more like “this but with a superhero thrown in”. Captain America: The First Avenger was a war story with a superhero and heavy science fiction elements but still a World War II story at the core. Hulk isn’t technically a superhero most of the time and actually left the Avengers really early in the first volume’s run. Sometimes he’s sci-fi and one recent series pushed him more towards horror. Swamp Thing is straight-up horror outside of that short-lived Fox Kids cartoon. No really, that happened.

And there’s your earworm for the next few days.

Another thing to note is that really only two companies are producing superhero movies and TV shows, Disney and Warner Brothers. Yes, Image has a couple of shows and maybe somebody out there counts Brightburn despite being a horror movie that just happens to have an evil Superboy stand-in but mostly it’s those two companies. Disney bought Marvel after the early successes of the MCU, while Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were released by Paramount Studios and Universal Studios respectively for Marvel Studios prior to being drawn into the Mouse Machine. Now it’s just Disney, co-producing Spider-Man movies thanks to a whole ton of rights discussion we won’t have hear, producing Marvel content. Warner Brothers have owned DC Comics for even longer but outside of their animation department hasn’t had a ton of successes, and the follow-ups to those successes haven’t continued the trend upward.

Meanwhile the companies only see Marvel and DC as property generators. “We can make a bunch of movies and TV/streaming shows plus other merchandise and just let the money roll in.” That’s all they care about…and that’s where the problems start. Oh, we’ll get to the activists but that’s just the current endpoint. The problem started with creators who didn’t care that much about the source material. The Batman movies have been translated into a director’s signature style since Tim Burton’s film. All the studios care about, and this has been a problem with a lot of recent adaptations as well, is that the famous name will bring them butts in seats. Except when it comes to fans of these shows, games, and comics, they already get their stories through those prior works. So when the movie or show doesn’t line up with that, a lesson Netflix seems to insist on purposefully getting wrong, it gets rejected by those fans. Unless you can gather enough of the non-fans to your altered version, which has happened only rarely like Battlestar Galactica, it’s doomed to fail.

“Aww mom, Disney lets Marvel heroes gloat.”

The comics have been guilty of this as well mind you, but this is where you get characters acting out of character because they’re written by writers who don’t understand the characters or outright don’t care. It’s just cheap marketing to get the story you wanted to make but couldn’t get past the jittery studios who have no faith in anything not already established. “Um, sure it’s a Power Pack movie. It’s four kids with superpowers.” There’s more to a proper adaptation than the concept but you have people who don’t care about the source material being handed scripts by people who only care about their magnum opus, both of whom looked up something on Wikipedia and called it good. Sometimes it isn’t. (Jem, anybody? Josie And The Pussycats?) Sometimes it is a good story but a terrible adaptation, so you just ticked off the very people who made it popular enough for you to trick the studio into supporting. Sooner or later we stop trusting you will be telling a proper version of these characters we love and were possibly even inspired by or needed at a certain point in our lives and reject it until the gullible’s reports prove otherwise. Lately they haven’t, and Disney has been the worst on this.

When Marvel Studios was first started the adaptations were quite good. Avi Arid is a huge Marvel fan. Kevin Feige on his own is not proving himself to be the same. Adaptations errors have gotten worse, past the necessities of translating to a different media format and potential audience, while at the same time doing nothing to convince people to get into the comics. Not that Marvel themselves have helped on that front but that’s a discussion for another time. DC on the other hand hasn’t had a praised adaptation of a DC property since Superman II in movies and the live-action TV shows have always been off one way or another. Animation has had better luck because cartoons are close enough to comics to share a level of disbelief suspension, but Marvel used to be able to bridge the gap pretty well.

So with no interest in maintaining proper “multiversal continuity”, those bits besides the costume that make a character who they are no matter how other things are changed in the transition, anyone being allowed to tell any story they want without understanding why the characters and stories were popular enough to make them potential money makers, the door was wide open for the current crop of activist creators to come in. These are writers and directors either afraid to make a woman character seem weak or lesser (or even equal to) a male character for fear of pushback, or being more interested in the message to tell a story right…which honestly weakens the message and sends even more people away, including from your new target audience, thus shooting themselves in the feet with a tommy gun. Telling people not to see this movie because they aren’t part of that social group certainly doesn’t help because the studios only care how it does on opening weekend as part of their measuring contest with the other studios.

So when Captain Marvel fails they don’t want to admit it might be because they didn’t make a good movie or the lead actress built up bad blood with the actual fans. No, it has to be because they’re sexist and don’t like strong women. Then when the critics bring up strong female characters they actually like, including a BETTER comic translation like Alita: Battle Angel, the poor film that makes them look bad comes under attack, turning the self-defensive into hypocrites. It’s not that they want you to enjoy a strong female protagonist, it’s that they want you to enjoy THEIR strong female protagonist who makes me look bad and they should bend over and take the punishment. The showrunner of She-Hulk has come out and said that it was the flack Captain Marvel got that led her to make a show as a middle finger to comic fans, including one of their critics being turned into the show’s main villain, making Hulk look lesser compared to Jennifer, who now gets her powers in a way that weakens Bruce’s role (in the comics it happened when he was saving her life, not some blood going from wound to wound by circumstance), and written by people who by their own admission know nothing about the law and just like writing quirky stuff like a knockoff Ally McBeal, guess what fans are going to do.

Arguably worse is Black Panther, with activists acting like he’s first black superhero ever. We can debate whether or not the vampire-hunting Blade qualifies as a superhero but you’ve had black superheroes in movies, TV, Saturday morning, and comics in the past. Oh right, the snobs don’t read comics or watch cartoons because they’re above such tripe. Still, MANTIS, Meteor Man–Robert Townsend’s all-black cast movie, not Marvel’s supervillain–and Spawn exist. You at best could make the case that there aren’t enough heroes of color and fine. There could be more and I’d be okay with that if they didn’t suck. I haven’t seen Black Panther…and I was told I shouldn’t. Some lady on I think TikTok even told white people to just give their ticket to a black person and protect them from the insurgents that never showed up to Wakanda Forever on opening night. I’m not even sure I’m allowed to see it based on their perspective. That chases people off as well, if these are the spokespeople for the movie.

DC has their own problem. Joker only succeeded in my opinion because the same group insisted that it would drive “incels” to psycho gun raids based on almost nothing. Yeah, some guy poorly slapped make-up on his face and shot up a theater during The Dark Knight Rises, the one WITHOUT the Joker in it, and that was all they went with. I’m convinced it wasn’t comic fans who went to this but counter-protests wanting to “stick it to them durn ess jay dubayas”, a stupid reason to support or denounce anything regardless of adaptation or quality, and the arthouse crowd Todd Philips really wants to impress. I’m curious to see what happens in this sequel to a movie about a character who bears the barest of resemblances to a comic book character that existed before his parents were born. He even stated he wanted to show up superhero movies. Philips joins the likes of big name directors like Quentin Tarantino and James Cameron in denouncing superhero movies, but went the extra step in making an anti-superhero movie that makes Watchmen look complimentary to superheroes. Speaking of which…

Then the put the DC heroes in the hands of Zac “if you don’t believe superheroes kill you live in a fantasy world so go watch my fictional movie where superheroes kill people” Snyder. (I still say give him his own superhero universe to make his fanbase happy and leave DC to people who care about DC heroes…if you can find them in Hollywood.) There isn’t a bright color in the lot even when the sun is out, rare as that is. The bright and uplifting heroes that made the DC Universe so popular aren’t on display, just cosplayers in dark suits on a cloudy day. Wonder Woman took place in World War I instead of World War II like The First Avenger for the same reason Na-Moré replaced Namor and took him from Atlantis, so the media snobs wouldn’t accuse anyone of ripping people off. Educate people about comics and encourage them to…gasp…READ? I don’t even seen ads encouraging kids to read anymore. Did the Reading Is Fundamental group just die off?

Genres ebb and flow. Westerns lost traction for a host of reasons and now it isn’t politically correct to go back to those old stories, which is an article on its own, though the occasional Western or Western-inspired work–sci-fi shows like Trigun and Cowboy BeBop, the good one not the Netflix crap–still pop up now and then. That’s more than the jungle movie, though occasionally they try to make something called Tarzan or Sheena that bears no resemblance to the original or even the version they’re supposedly inspired by. Meanwhile, war movies have become less optimistic and you decide if that’s good or bad, crime dramas, romantic comedies, and docudramas are the same as ever, just in present day and using modern themes, but nobody insists the low rating on Bros was romantic comedy fatigue (they blame homophobia instead). It’s not that modern audiences are tired of superhero movies as much as the folks with sticks up their capes who want to see it die so the “real” movies can be made.

It’s not superhero fatigue, it’s terrible movies by people who couldn’t give two spits about the source material or why people go to see superhero movies fatigue. Or if you want a shorter version, garbage fatigue, lazy marketing fatigue, and celebrity ego fatigue.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

One response »

  1. Back in the day snobs complained about all those successful Western genre movies. But they drew crowds and made money, so they kept cranking them out.
    1. Screw cinema snobs
    2. I love westerns

    Liked by 1 person

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