The New Genre: Super Hero Movies (Part I)

Author: Jay-Rey (@jay_rey)

The two largest publishers of comic books are DC and Marvel. While constantly duking it out in the comic book stores, they have recently started doing battle in theaters too. The name of the game for both studios is franchise, and that is exactly what both companies plan to do. But will this competition hurt the super hero movies of the future?

Sequels have been around for ages. Just look at Jaws. Jaws was the first modern example of a blockbuster. Released in the summer with a huge budget, it started the trend of movie studios green lighting big-budget-event pictures. They didn’t just want to release a movie, they wanted to invite audiences to an event. The huge success of blockbusters would inevitably cause studio executives to try and recapture the magic with sequels. That is why we have to watch Jaws 2, and even worse, Jaws 3D and Jaws the Revenge.

The biggest difference today is the idea that a movie should have a sequel. You hear it all the time; within a week or so of a movie’s release, 2 sequels have been given the go-ahead from a studio. The Godzilla reboot has only been in theaters for two weeks, and there are already plans for two more.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that Super Hero movies is big business. Geek culture and mainstream are almost synonymous. Marvel has a film plan for the next 3 or 4 years. DC is currently in the middle of unleashing their own cinematic universe with their top heroes. And while it is great news that the studios responsible for these huge endeavors are in control, it leaves me to wonder what kind of stagnate state these movies will be presented in as the years go by.

Let’s look at Marvel, since it is really our best example of what the proto-typical superhero movie should be about. They are big-budget,action packed features. Each movie leaves a mark on the cinematic universe as a whole, with everything culminating in the big crossover (Avengers assemble!). The action sequences are top notch. The story is full of Easter Eggs and teaser for old and new fans. The humor is sharp and funny. And at the end of the day, they all fit perfectly fine together.

Rumor around the water cooler is that Edgar Wright and his plans for Ant-Man would not have fit so well. Wright had been working on Ant-Man since 2006, 2 years before the first Iron Man film was released, and well before the launch of the full Marvel Cinematic Universe. 8 years is a very long time, and things change. Since then, Wright has directed 3 of his own movies, and produced several others. In the same time frame, Marvel had recast the hulk, released 2 new movie franchises (Thor and Captain America), as well as launched a TV show, with 1 more on the horizon and a Netflix mini series in the works.

Marvel is obviously dedicated to their brand. And I can only assume Wright knew what movie he wanted to make. The issue is that their dedication may not have fit together, and someone had to go. But with James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy slated for the end of the summer, a welcome shift in tone is prevalent. Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, and John C. Reilly are known for their comedic work. MCU movies have had their fair share of humor, but GoG looks like an action comedy. This new approach might be what super hero movies need to stay relevant moving forward.


Check back next week for Part II


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