The Return of the Genre
Perhaps superhero movies are just a natural fit for summer blockbusters, but there's no explaining why a 2300 year old military leader is a hot topic in movies, right?
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Like many trends, this is a combination many factors at play: the country is seriously questioning its role in the world, the bubble in the economy has burst and the unpleasant reality has set in, and the evolution of corporate culture. But the primary reason we are seeing the types of films being made today are the demographics that are currently holding the most influence: the 30-40 year olds. More than any other generation, this group hold more to their childhood ideals and influences, and have the capital and economic clout to make the kinds of films and tv shows that they identify can identify with.
Growing up from the Reagan 80's excess, then rejected its values to suit the more intellectual and critical thinking of the early 90's, and eventually prosper in their careers during the technical revolution of the late 90's and turn of the century, the GenX demographic is trying the grasp the drastic changes that has happened and differences between ideals and reality. As film makers, story tellers, and comic book artists, we compare our reality with the utopian Federation world of Star Trek to the role models we worshiped in Star Wars and Mister Rogers. And there is an inherent desire to tell stories that is relevant to current events, but in a way that's not preachy. This is what drives the current trend: remaking past genres to relook at what was important and that is relevant today, hopefuly to tell a story that entertains while passing it as a marketable commodity to the corporate execs.