Do We Need This Many Superheroes? | Film News
Has anyone else noticed that superhero films are everywhere these days? Film production companies are churning them out on a factory conveyor belt. After the success of The Avengers in 2012, film bosses realized they were onto something great and ever since, have kept the influx of attractive actors in spandex and after-credit stingers in constant turn-over.
So far we, the innocent members of the public, love it. We want to see all the superheroes unite, understand cheeky references to other films, and most of all stay until after the credits to learn more about a potential sequel. However, for how much longer can we still enjoy these archetypal plots of good defeating evil? Is there a risk of over-saturation in superhero and comic book adaptations? Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment at Warner Bros. have got us right where they want us.
It all began with the X-Men series kicking off in 2000, followed by another six sequels and prequels. It doesn’t stop here; two more X-Men films are planned, X-Men: Apocalypse for 2016 and and untitled Wolverine sequel for 2017. Furthermore, a film centred on Deadpool opens in 2016, with Ryan Reynolds reprising his role, plus Gambit which is currently in talks with Channing Tatum. The series additionally has another two spin-offs in development. And this is only with the X-Men franchise.
Marvel whetted our appetites in 2008 with Ironman starring Robert Downey Jr. and was a critical and commercial success. This was the beginning of so-called ‘Phase One’ in the Marvel franchise, Avengers Assembled including The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. So far this is pretty cool. Everyone was jumping on the superhero bandwagon and The Avengers depicting all these amazing heroes unite was cinematic heaven.
Next comes ‘Phase Two’ which we are currently in; the previous films’ sequels such as Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: The Age of Ultron, introducing new characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, plus additions such as Guardians of the Galaxy, a Fantastic Four reboot and Ant-Man. ‘Phase Three’ arrives in 2016 with, once again, more individual character sequels, plus Dr Strange, two Avengers films, Captain Marvel in 2018 and and a currently untitled Spiderman film.
Marvel producer Kevin Feige has stated these ‘phases’ are part of annual developments in the Marvel universe, much like the regular comic book releases. This means a couple of films a year about old characters while introducing new ones, will keep the universe ticking over in everyone’s mind. It certainly keeps it in everyone’s mind, more to say, we are being bombarded.
Television series are also included with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D which includes various references to the film universe, and now Agent Carter, a spin-off from Captain America with actress Hayley Atwell continuing her role. The disapproval and confusion at the Spiderman reboot in 2012, retitled The Amazing Spiderman starring Andrew Garfield, has been forgotten. We were right to be annoyed; Sam Raimi’s adaptation had only been completed in 2007 yet Sony were already planning to reboot the franchise in keeping with the Marvel universe. Once again it will be refreshed for 2017, this time starring young actor Tom Holland as the hero.
This onslaught of Marvel characters has caused DC to retaliate with its own shared universe beginning with Man of Steel in 2013. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice will follow in 2016 and is promised to have another ELEVEN on its tail, including Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. We should also expect another Batman film, however (I must say unfortunately) not another Christopher Nolan epic which managed to stand alone from the comic book barrage.
Superhero films are definitely fun; they are action-packed, thrilling, full of references for fans, and an excellent way to reboot the many comic book series in Marvel and DC. However, the film companies know they are onto a winner and will continue to produce superhero films to the detriment of others. All we want to see is Captain America kick-jumping some villain or Superman and Batman fighting each other before uniting as a team.
What does this say about us as society? Is good and evil really this black and white? I feel that these comic book film studios are brainwashing us with the promise of sequels, prequels, origins, spin-offs, each film coming with yet another promise of more so we can understand this or that character further. We’ll soon stop buying into it and lining the pockets of the production companies. In the meantime though prepare for the onslaught.