January 3, 2016
The superhero flick has easily become a global staple within the film industry. Studios have continued to develop these films in hopes of generating massive profits that often times they themselves create. These profits are largely based on the budget shattering action sequences and technologically defying special effects that kindle a sense of excitement for those in attendance. There has been a gold-rush of late, and the most recognizable of recipients have been Marvel Studios. Since 2008, Marvel has slowly built a cinematic universe (MCU) that has set the grounds for other studios to follow. According to the sources at boxofficemojo.com, as of 2016, films within the MCU movie franchise have generated over three-billion dollars in the worldwide box office. They have done so by releasing both commercial and critical successes that have redefined the genre with films/film series such as “Iron Man,” “Captain America,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Ant-Man,” “Thor,” etc. This year is no exception, as Marvel is planning to introduce “Deadpool” (February 12) and both Black Panther and MCU’s Spiderman in “Captain America: Civil War” (May 6).
The groundwork Marvel has managed to construct has prompted other studios to follow in their footsteps, the most notable of such being DC Studios. Though DC has made incredible films/shows within the animated and live-action genres, the silver screen has been hit or miss for them. Excluding Christopher Nolan’s highly coveted workings of the Dark Knight Trilogy, films such as “Man of Steel” (2013) and “Green Lantern” (2011) have disappointed fans and moviegoers alike. However, DC is poised to establish a cinematic domain of their own with the highly anticipated releases of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (March 25) and “Suicide Squad” (August 5). These films are not only intersecting the universes of heavy hitters Batman, Superman and Wonder Women, but also opening up DC’s scroll of iconic villains. Villains that have often been overlooked in previous films such as Harley Quinn, Dead Shot, and Killer Croc, etc. DC anticipates that both films are able to generate the same critical and commercial success that Marvel has obtained, in hopes of launching a universe of their own. Writer Mike Cecchini of denofgeeks.us says, following the momentum of these releases, DC plans to launch and relaunch the solo films of Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and the Justice League movie.
As studios (FOX, Sony, Buena Vista, and Paramount) continue to bid for supremacy within the genre is it possible the market will be over saturated with these films? With all the success that has been accumulated with the creation of these films there have been many missteps. These missteps whether critically or commercially have prompted several reboots to a number of franchises. For example, since 2002 Spiderman is set to be on its third installment. The constant recycling of characters and ideas may in fact diminish the popularity of the modern day superhero film. Additionally, like any other genre quality is a vital measurement of one’s success within the film industry. It is especially important within the superhero genre because these characters may be new or unfamiliar to a large demographic of individuals. These solo releases are both an audiences’ and characters’ introduction on screen, so there initial impression may very well determine their appearances in future films.
The impact of the superhero figure today is immeasurable, and studios have taken notice. Not only are these figures dominating the box office globally, but have even branched out to become acclaimed live-action TV series. Shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gotham, and both Arrow and The Flash have brought upon new found success onto the genre. Adam Holmes of cinemablend.com wrote an article ranking the top superheroes currently on television. Holmes says, “Seeing super powered and masked characters on the small screen in live-action is nothing new (it goes back to Adventures of Superman in the 1950s), but thanks to the popularity of these characters on the big screen and the improvement of visual effects, adventures that were previously only imaginable on the pages of a comic book can now be enjoyed in primetime while relaxing on your couch.” Live-action televised series have also grown in popularity due to the reach and impact of Netflix and Hulu. Netflix alone has a total of 33 million subscribers within the U.S., and a total of 44 million accounts globally. Programs like Marvel’s Daredevil was one of, if not the first superhero series to be created and distributed by Netflix. The acclaim these shows have amassed have created a vast range of consumers that have elevated live-action to unseen parallels.
This is unquestionably a golden age in both film and primetime television, but can this success be retained? In order for these studios to maintain success within the superhero genre it is important that they create projects that exhibit the same quality such as those in previous films and television shows. The quality of the project is what draws audiences in and allows them to obtain a memorable visual experience. Rather than relying on special effects and star-studded casts, Marvel has done a great job providing these elements while also being able to tell a well-constructed narrative/plot that sustains the attention of both the casual and neurotic comic book fan. They create pieces that display realistic portrayals of characters that a number of individuals are able to relate to. Furthermore, for these projects to be able to retain the same popularity they have obtained the last ten years are for them to continue to release and illustrate new character’s stories and origins. Consistently making reboots and reincarnations of the same characters in time will bore audiences. Instead, introducing new characters and their respected origins/motives will draw in fans and appease those that have followed their figure(s) heavily. Lastly, these films/shows should be planned out strategically. Studios should take note of the steps Marvel have taken, and the amount of patience they have exhibited in building their cinematic empire. Beginning with the highly acclaimed film Iron Man in 2008, Marvel has since featured a number of superheroes in quality movies that have transcended the world of film with others trailing right behind them.