Admittedly this article’s title is in error. As I’ve written before, “superhero fatigue” is a myth created by the anti-superhero members of Hollywood society in both the director’s chair and their willing accomplices in media. Nobody talks about action movie fatigue, war movie fatigue, romantic comedy fatigue, or horror fatigue. Only the superhero genre gets fatigue and we’re told should go away, which they failed to do with science fiction, and fantasy somehow keeps trying and may have gained a bit of ground thanks to the book adaptations like Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings, provided they actually followed the franchise. Unlike a certain Amazon series we won’t mention.

I saw an article from website The Direct about how James Gunn was supposedly coming up with a plan to fight superhero fatigue, but it’s from a Rolling Stone article about Guardians Of The Galaxy volume 3, which is not a superhero movie despite being in the Marvel Universe, not about his upcoming run at DC Studios ruining running the new DC movieverse. In that article was linked another article, this time from the guy Warner Brothers is hoping Gunn can match, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige. I’m going to use their articles because Rolling Stone only allows so many free reads before you sign up and the Feige bit comes from a podcast. So what are these so-called plans?

While guesting on The Movie Business Podcast, Marvel Studios Kevin Feige talked about how the Hollywood giant navigates creating the MCU’s various Phases and how he feels regarding superhero fatigue.

When asked how Marvel Studios decides on what their Phases will be, Feige was quick to point to “the 80-plus years of Marvel comic history as [their] guide:”

“Each of our sagas are broken into phases and we now find ourselves on the precipice of Phase 2 of the Multiverse Saga. And there are two ways to do it. One, we look at an overarching narrative, always using the comics and the 80-plus years of Marvel comic history as our guide of what general, long-term story we want to do. But really, it comes down to each individual film or series, and what type of genre we want to do.”

Points for acknowledging the comics…too bad your writers aren’t doing the same thing. In fact the creators of She-Hulk were outright hostile because they’re upset fans didn’t fawn over Bree Larson’s Captain Marvel and blamed it on sexism instead of poor adaptation of a character who only exists to screw over Billy Batson over at DC Comics. In fact it seems after Avi Arad left and Sony forced Marvel Studios to mess with Spider-Man iconography in case the deal went bad for them and they still wanted to go back to doing the license themselves, which has only had one success since Spider-Man 2, the desire for Marvel Studios to adapt the comics to movie format, something they were praised for before Disney took over, has suffered greatly and the end products show.

As for the question of superhero fatigue, it’s something that “people were asking… [since his] 2nd year at Marvel:”

“I’ve been at Marvel Studios for 22 years now, over 22 years, and most of us here at Marvel Studios have been around a decade or longer together. And from probably my 2nd year at Marvel people were asking, ‘Well, how long is this going to last? Is this fad of comic book movies going to end? And I didn’t really understand the question. Because to me it was akin to saying after ‘Gone With The Wind’, ‘Well how many more movies can be made off of novels? Do you think the audience will sour on movies being adapted from books?'”

Feige continued his comparison to adapting books, emphasizing that there are “80 years of the most interesting, emotional, groundbreaking stories that have been told in the Marvel comics” for their company to explore and bring to life:

“Well you would never ask that because there is an inherent understanding among most people that a book can be anything. A novel can have any type of story whatsoever, so it all depends on what story you’re translating. None comic readers don’t understand it’s the same thing in comics. There’re 80 years of the most interesting, emotional, groundbreaking stories that have been told in the Marvel comics and it is our great privilege to be able to take what we and adapt them.”

Then again, there are novels based on the comics. And still more accurate adaptations than the recent movies.

The novel analogy really doesn’t work. These aren’t novels, except for the graphic novels but nobody is adapting them directly. The adaptation here comes from “multiversal continuity”, an overview of the most iconic moments and representations of the characters. Novels can have many different genres but that’s also the case for every other media format, including comic books and movies. He should have leaned more into the genre thing. Marvel’s movies tended to be “this genre but in a superhero/superscience and magical world” and that what worked for them.

So what about James Gunn’s “clear plan” as that article’s writer calls it despite coming from an article that had nothing to do with DC’s movies or superheroes, for the DC side of the nonexistent “superhero fatigue”?

Speaking with Rolling Stone, DC Studios boss James Gunn talked about superhero fatigue and how he plans to somehow fix or even stop it for the DCU.

While admitting that he believes that such fatigue exists, Gunn believed that it has nothing to do with superheroes. Instead, the Guardians of the Galaxydirector pointed out that it all boils down to what “kind of stories that get to be told” and the central character:

“I think there is such a thing as superhero fatigue. I think it doesn’t have anything to do with superheroes. It has to do with the kind of stories that get to be told, and if you lose your eye on the ball, which is character.”

So then it’s not really “superhero fatigue” but “bad story fatigue”. Heck, Hollywood’s dealing with that in every genre and age group right about now.

Gunn then reflected on how amazing characters like Superman, Batman, and Iron Man are, but it would get “really boring” if it “becomes just a bunch of nonsense onscreen:”

“We love Superman. We love Batman. We love Iron Man. Because they’re these incredible characters that we have in our hearts. And if it becomes just a bunch of nonsense onscreen, it gets really boring.”

Gunn indirectly implied that his DCU will plan to focus on emotionally grounded stories that elevate the characters instead of primarily relying on massive spectacles to ultimately prevent superhero fatigue:

“But I get fatigued by most spectacle films, by the grind of not having an emotionally grounded story. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether they’re superhero movies or not. If you don’t have a story at the base of it, just watching things bash each other, no matter how clever those bashing moments are, no matter how clever the designs and the VFX are, it just gets fatiguing, and I think that’s very, very real.”

That’s what we want out of our heroes: giving up and self-loathing. Want to join Clark in renouncing your citizenship?

I have to both agree and disagree. The reason we get live-action superhero stories instead of the much easier (both visually and suspending disbelief) animated superhero movies is because they want to see those amazing feats from the comics in a form of reality. Granted the stories are important, and where recent superhero films and shows are failing…except on Disney Junior and to a lesser extent Nick Junior, where they’re actually bright, colorful, hopeful, uplifting and positive…is in the story area. The problem is that the superhero stories are not any of those things.

Rather than raise us to their level, to learn how to be better people and become like heroes ourselves, too many of the recent fare actually lowers superheroes to us if not lowering them below us. Instead of us becoming better by their example they’re being deconstructed and destroyed by being too grounded or too quirky rather than letting the superhero stories be about superheroes and do what makes the superhero genre so beloved.

Under Zac “I don’t know what a fantasy world is despite making movies set in them” Snyder heroes killed because he couldn’t see them doing otherwise. Under Todd Phillips and even Christopher Nolan the Joker is a shadow of the Clown Prince Of Crime from the comics and all previous interpretations while Matt Reeve’s take is unrecognizable from any interpretation of Batman, Catwoman, and the Riddler I know just from the trailers and promotional material.

Alternately you have attorney She-Hulk being written by people who know nothing about law or superheroes and believing it to be a good thing, a producer who only wants people completely clueless about Marvel comics, and whatever the hell Sony did with Venom and Michael Morbius. Loki exists only to put down the shared universe and any notion of continuity while Scarlet Witch takes a town hostage and forces them to live in a sitcom world during her mental breakdown, then go on a superhero killing spree throughout the multiverse because she lost kids that never really existed and we’re supposed to see her as the hero.

This is ignoring the heroes who are above us, but would rather preach to us the worldview of the writer rather than give us an adventure. This is done out of rage rather than love, and that will just as easily lose an audience looking for a break from life to recenter and resume their participation in this thing we call ‘living”. When your villain is turning people into living explosives, maybe this isn’t the guy to tell cigarette manufacturers how evil they are before blowing them up. No, really, this is an actual example. New heroes are just going after people with positions the writer doesn’t like or representation through stereotypes rather than actual people, which chases off the people you want to “represent” even more as well as the fans who didn’t take a day off work to be called the everliving source of evil in creation. I don’t usually discuss the current political climate because I look at the end result and the openings that allowed activist writers in. BW Media Spotlight is not a political site. I review stories and if your story is not good and your superhero isn’t doing superhero things in favor of some slice-of-life story that happens to involve someone with superpowers, that’s going to lose audiences as well, especially if they were fans of the original. So yes, that includes the race/gender/orientation swaps that chase off even fans part of the group they claim to be going after, and then the end product isn’t even a good superhero story.

It’s not superhero fatigue, it’s lack of superheroes being superheroes…fatigue. Those who claim otherwise are just part of the system that never liked superheroes. I don’t like horror movies. I’m not cheering Freddy Krueger not making movies. Not everything has to be made for me. Just let the things that are be made for me and others like me. The everything for meeeeeeeeeeeeee crowd isn’t happy if something they don’t like exists and then turn hypocrite when you don’t like something that “wasn’t made for you”. Well, if it’s not made for me, and honestly you don’t get to decide that for someone with my tastes. why would I waste time and money to support bad stories just because I like the genre.

Superhero fatigue is a myth. It’s just bad story fatigue created by ego-driven people who, as noted last week, cares more about their work than a proper adaptation. Put a good storyteller who either likes what they’re adapting or will put in the effort to make as faithful an adaptation as possible between formats and see that “fatigue” magically disappear.


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. First Feige and Gunn will have to convince me they care about superheroes again (at least enough to make as much money as they were making before the last 3-4 years, that is).

    Liked by 2 people

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