Are Superhero Films About To Decline?

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This week the Fantastic Four sequel was 'quietly axed' could Steven Spielberg's prediction about comic book films come true

Superhero films 2015

Last month, legendary director, Steven Spielberg said: ‘Superhero films will go the way of the Western.’ In 2015 we have seen the release of Ant-Man, Fantastic Four (again) and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, so why does Spielberg believe that superhero films are in decline?

Well, the last film released from Marvel Studios / Walt Disney as part of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) was Ant-Man, which made $23.4 million (£15.2 Mil) on its opening day, it was the second lowest debut for a Marvel film and did not meet the $60 million opening mark executives at Disney expected. Despite all this, the film scored positive reviews and grossed $409 million overall.

The action-comedy directed by Peyton Reed about an engineer who turns out to be a wide-eyed, fair-minded thief, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd.) During his quest to do better by his ex-wife and daughter he ends up coming into contact with a suit by former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) after a house robbery.

In comparison, Fantastic Four, which is backed by 20th Century Fox and is a reboot of the entire franchise did very bad at the box office and had terrible reviews. The film is about four adventurers; Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and her brother Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) who work behind a teleportation experiment to another planet of existence that goes wrong.


Spielberg  later clarified on the film blog site, Collider, that ‘the number of blockbusters in one summer’ could be detrimental. In an interview with The Associated Press last month he said: ‘Right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving.’

‘I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplemented by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.’

In response, Mark Millar, a creative consultant for 20th Century Fox and a prolific writer in the comic book industry said the genre will last at least ‘another good five years.’

Millar told the entertainment site IGN while discussing upcoming films like the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy sequels that due to them being ‘billion dollar grossers’ it will ‘make a lot of money’.

As a filmmaker and a comic book fan, I am in favour the genre. ‘Superhero film’ is a broad term, they are not limited to just capes and robbers. It can be sci-fi like Iron Man or supernatural like Thor, or even mystery and crime mixed together like Batman. My point is that the genre is open to a lot of story-lines and themes, it all depends on the author and vision behind it.

After watching the trailers for Suicide Squad and Deadpool, I am really looking forward to their release next year. They are both in their own way edgy with more of a focus on super villains. Who wouldn’t want to see a bunch of supposed-to-be-heroes do the most messed up stuff that traditional heroes wouldn’t dare to do?


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