By now, I’m sure many people have filed into theaters this Memorial Day weekend to see “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the 88th installment of the “X-Men” movie franchise, where Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and other acclaimed actors were contractually obligated to slap on the suits one mo’ gin and take part in some sort of good-vs.-evil tug-of-war where the whole world is on the line or something like that.
While people may be down to see that for the 200th time, I’ve kinda gotten superheroed out. I must be officially getting old, because most superhero movies have been giving me a heavy case of fatigue. Watching all these men and women (but mostly men) in colorful tights battling some force usually hellbent on destroying the world was entertaining the first half-dozen times. Now, I’m just getting bored.
Unfortunately, audiences aren’t as bored as I am. The three biggest movies this year were all superhero flicks. “Deadpool,” with Ryan Reynolds camping it up as a foul-mouthed mercenary/anti-hero, surprised everyone by being an R-rated superhero movie that made over $760 million. After what seemed like years of teasing, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the long-awaited showdown between The Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel, took in $870 million. And even though it’s been in theaters for less than a month, “Captain America: Civil War” has grossed a billion dollars worldwide. Keep in mind that “Deadpool” and “Batman v Superman” came out earlier this year, showing that superhero movies, blockbusters that were once relegated to the summer months, are now a year-round thing.
Does it even matter if these movies are good? It almost seems like asking for a decent, coherent narrative is too much. (These are event movies, dangnabbit!) Besides, all the preliminary hype and buzz that appears for these movies beforehand does the dirty work of enticing audiences into auditoriums, buttered tub of popcorn and gigantic container of soda cradled in their arms, so they can sit back and watch THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
There are fanboys out there who don’t see it that way. In fact, there is a heavy contingent of rabid comic-book enthusiasts who pounce on those who dare bad-mouth a superhero movie. They especially went after film critics who panned “Batman v Superman,” accusing them of only liking Marvel films. I also saw “Batman v Superman,” and I too thought that movie was awful. (Yeah, I said it!) It’s basically 2 1/2 hours of two iconic superheroes acting all miserable, photographed in drab colors, circling around each other for a needlessly lengthy amount of time before fighting each other for reasons I’m still not clear on. “Civil War,” which had Captain America and Iron Man going toe-to-toe, was more pleasing to the eye. But it was also a bloated spectacle, mostly consisting of superheroes introducing themselves to each other and the audience.
That’s the big problem with superhero movies these days: They’re really feature-length ads for the next wave of superhero movies coming down the pike. Not only did “Batman v Superman” have Wonder Woman popping up for the climactic brawl, giving audiences a glimpse of what to expect when the “Wonder Woman” movie drops next summer, but it also briefly introduced all the other DC Comics superheroes who’ll have standalone movies in the future. Meanwhile, “Civil War” had Spider-Man (who’ll once again get the reboot treatment after that pair of “Amazing Spider-Man” misfires), Black Panther and other Marvel heroes showing their faces before they run off and star in their own respective blockbusters.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely giving up on superhero movies. With the way “Civil War” entertainingly brought Spider-Man and Black Panther into the Disney-owned, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU, to those in-the-know), I actually would like to see how their films turn out. However, do we have to be inundated with comic-book movies all the time? Will every Marvel and DC superhero have a movie at some point? Does anybody really want to see a movie about Doctor Strange or the Green Lantern Corps? If you said no, that’s too bad; “Strange” is coming out in November and “Corps” is set for summer 2020.
So even though the release dates for many of these movies have been locked in, making the superhero onslaught oh-so-inevitable, is it too much to ask for at least some of them to switch things up a bit?