OPINION: Ban Comic Book Movies to Make Them Fresh Again

Batman Dawn of Justice
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I’ve long been a proponent of the theory that superhero movies are for children: whilst escapism in the form of superhuman hijinx might be a worthy retreat for some, the fact remains that for me, nothing is less interesting than watching a film about a man that flies, or a man that has blades for hands (and it is usually a man). But with a lukewarm response to hyped movies like Suicide Squad even from fans of the genre, the increasing feeling within some areas of the community is that superhero movies are becoming very tired indeed. Luckily, as usual, I have reached a solution that will no doubt give DC and Marvel some time to reconsider their quantity over quality approach to the fantasy genre: ban superhero movies.

“But you don’t even like superhero films!” I hear you shout. Granted, I don’t. But this break wouldn’t be permanent: although this would most certainly benefit me, this enforced break would be for the good of the entire genre. Despite the fact that sites like comicbookmovie.com have been predicting a worldwide gross of $715m for films like Doctor Strange, one could argue that films like the aforementioned Doctor Strange could gross even more after the superhero ban I am advocating.

Take a look at Suicide Squad. With a cast including Jared Leto and Will Smith, the film, in hype train terms, had long since derailed and was heading full steam ahead towards creating a superhero-shaped crater in 2016’s movie landscape. Indeed, fans were certainly excited for the movie’s release, and it has certainly grossed a lot of money worldwide (it had the biggest August opening in South Korea ever recorded) so far, but the critics were far from unanimous on its merits. Peter Debruge of Vanity included, who wrote that:

“On paper, this could have been the antidote to an increasingly codified strain of comic-book movies, but in the end, it’s just another high-attitude version of the same”

Suicide Squad

This almost perfectly encapsulates the issues that some feel this genre has. With an increasing stream of motion pictures leaving the production line, the plot of some will ultimately end up feeling formulaic and a little bit surgical in their delivery. Of course, not everyone is going to be sick of superhero movies no matter what comes out of the DC/Marvel machine, but if the trend continues, a scenario could arise in which film grosses for these types of movies slumps considerably. A shrinking film industry is something that none of us want, whether or not we are a fan of a particular genre or not. Whilst I might not be at the cinema in full costume at midnight waiting to see Batman vs Superman, the people who are doing that deserve to have a good cinematic experience. Especially considering the price of cinema tickets nowadays.

During the nineties, one would argue that superhero movies were more farcical than anything else. Meteor Man, Batman and Robin, Blade and The Phantom were all movies of questionable quality, especially compared to their modern, effects-laden equivalents. With the growing use and advancement of CGI technology, however, the first superhero movies were refreshing. The first Spiderman movies and Batman films remain my favourites within the genre. However, as the noughties ended and the tens began, the trickle became a flood.

Spider-Man Civil War

To realise how much the genre has become swamped, one must go no further than to look at the list of superhero films planned for release between 2016 and 2020. Contained within the vast list is Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch, the Lego Batman movie, another Batman movie, an untitled Wolverine movie, Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, Black Panther, another Avengers movie, an animated Spiderman movie, Aquaman, Inhumans and more. The fact is, the more movies you put out, the greater likelihood that more will be a load of rubbish. Sure, it doesn’t have the same film-to-tosh ratio as the rom-com genre, but the sheer number of films coming out of Marvel and DC nowadays sullies the genre to the point of ridicule. Admittedly, the output is partially due to the demand of superhero films in the modern day, but I doubt I am alone in thinking that with a bit more time, better movies could be produced that would appeal to an audience wider than merely the hardcore.

Here is where my ingenious strategy comes in. With a blanket ban, superhero movies regain some of the hype that they’ve lost due to volume. Marvel and DC get some more time to reconsider their movies and realise that no one actually wants to watch a film about Aquaman, or another underwhelming effort in the Avengers franchise. The developers will hopefully use their years off to develop properly good movies; in essence, ones that will actually toe the mark that the runaway hype trains have set for them. Take Monsters University for example. Pixar waited a solid twelve years before releasing a follow-up. The movie was superb as a result. Imagine if the developers of comic book spin-offs were given more time to make their movies watchable.

What a world that would be.

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