It seems at least once or twice a week I go to my wife and start a conversation with“I know what I’m going to write my next article on…” then I proceed to tell her about a subject I usually never end up actually writing about. It’s hard to think of interesting crap to write about! I tell you this as a plea… Help! Email me some topics you're interested in hearing about or want me to write about. I’ll do the research and turn it into a (hopefully) fun read for you.
email@example.com or tweet @reel_contender
That being said… This is what I have thought up for this time around.
Luckily there was some Hollywood news from one of the best directors of all time that caught my eye. This comes from about a year ago, but is even more applicable now than it was back then. It comes from a quote from the one and only Steven Spielberg. In an interview with the Associated Press the legendary director said “We were around when the western died, and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the western, it doesn't mean there won't be another occasion where the western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I'm only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture." So I am here to answer the question; will superhero movies eventually go away?
At first you think the answer is obvious - of course they will. Trends, fads and cycles are pretty easy to see. Sunglasses with random lines through the lenses, scrunchies, bright neon colors, baggy pants, tight pants. Obvious right? But let’s think about this a little more. I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid. I loved (maybe love…) Pokemon around that same time. Seeing how I just watched my two nephews last Wednesday, ages 8 and 7, and the majority of the conversation I had with them was about TMNT and Pokemon (not to mention Megan Fox's shelled friends and Pokemon Go), I’m not entirely sure trends work the same way in the media.
Ok, so maybe talking about two of the most successful childhood shows of all time is a bad example, but I think the point was still made. When talking superhero movies there are few things that are undebatable. The fact we are currently in the age of superhero movies is one of them. Steven Spielberg, one of the men who knows Hollywood the best, would agree. Seeing how the first Avengers movie worked it’s way up to the third highest grossing film of all time (at the time of release. It has since dropped to fourth behind Jurassic World) and Age of Ultron climbed at a similar rate: also, Ironman 3, The Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises all broke a billion in the box office and realizing all of these movies are less then 10 years old, I think it’s easy to see we are living in a superhero craze. Not to mention t-shirts, car decals, mugs, cups, pjs and just about anything else you can wear, eat out of or sleep in, are stamped with the logos of these great protagonists. The question is - will this one day end?
One side of the coin…
Yes, this superhero movie phase will one day end. The western, war movies, science fiction, even musicals have once seemed to be thriving in Hollywood and appeared to be there to stay. Now, none of these have left Hollywood completely and there are many that would argue elements of these subjects are in almost every movie today. I would actually agree with that, but that’s a different article for a different day. Even though the impact these films have had may have never left Hollywood, the craze we once felt is no longer. The man with no name, Star Wars and a Scottish accent yelling “Freedom!” are all elements of Hollywood that have lasted and will last the test of time, but nothing has held onto the spot light because film is a reflection of culture. Seeing how culture is forever changing, so are the trends in Hollywood. Just as one man can't have the spotlight forever, nor can one genre. It just takes one brilliant mind (George Lucas) to change the tide. Spielberg, in his Associated Press interview continued to say, "There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.” If there is any man to trust in predicting the way of the motion picture, I think it should be the man who created the Hollywood's first summer blockbuster.
The other side of the coin…
No, superhero movies have always been around and will always be around. I was Superman three years in a row for Halloween as a child and have been a couple of times since. From the time I was four I’ve known about, watched and loved Superman. That’s twenty-one years, but let’s go back farther. If we were talking comic books we could go back almost 100 years, but I’m going to stick to entertainment of the era such as radio, film and T.V.
1940-1951 Superman radio show.
1941-43 Superman cartoon.
1966-70 Adventures of Superman.
1980-87 Christopher Reeve Superman movies.
1993-97 New Adventures of Superman.
2006 Superman Returns.
And now, Man of Steel
That is just Superman. I focus on him because I like him the best. But here is a shout out to Adam West!
There has been nothing but a steady uphill climb for the success of superheroes in film and television. It seems that it has truly taken off recently because we now have the technology to really make these characters come to life. That won't change and will in fact just improve as time goes on. This “phase” we are in has had a larger impact on culture than many other “phases” in film. The biggest evidence of that being how it is cool to be a nerd. A hot girl is only hotter if she knows about Star Wars. It isn't socially unacceptable to go to Comic Con. In fact, you're kind of weird if you don't want to go. Nerd and geek have become compliments and I think superhero movies being a huge contributing factor. There is an entire course at University of Baltimore based on Marvel Studios for crying out loud!
What I actually believe…
I have shirts with the logos of the following; Ironman, Superman, the Flash, Green lantern, the Avengers, Captain America, Spiderman and the Justice League. That fact will never change. I also think it will never change that the majority of people on the street will be able to identify the symbols I bare. But, I do think the amount of hype currently on the newest superhero movie will not remain. It’s a trend that will fade, but not the subject of superheroes. My theory is that the superhero movie will adapt to meet the needs of its audience…. or at least the good ones will. Captain America: Winter Soldier felt more like a spy movie then a superhero movie. The film critic for the Las Vegas Journal stated “The Winter Soldier" works as well as it does because it all feels grounded in ways that superhero movies rarely do. Sure, there are big, elaborate action sequences and some seriously iffy science. But there are no capes, codpieces or, aside from the rare instances when Cap suits up, cowls.” I think that is a perfect example of taking the concept of a superhero and adapting it to what your audience wants the most. There will be a next phase. Who knows, if Assassin's Creed is amazing, maybe we get some great video game based movies. They haven't served well in the past, but maybe it’s soon to be their time to shine.
Thanks for reading
P.S. I want to know your opinion on this. Am I insane? Is Steve? Tweet me!