Are Too Many Heroes Coming to the Big Screen at Once?

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Are Too Many Heroes Coming to the Big Screen at Once?

MovieBob tackles the question of whether the industry is being too saturated at the moment with action movies of the superhero variety.

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Too much isn't exactly as "subjective" as Bob's making it to be. Burnout is a real psychological term, and is reference to becoming mentally exhausted.

For example, my wife had interest in The Walking Dead Series, but because she hit burnout with their overuse of murdering characters she stopped watching.

Over indulgence has also been shown to diminished interest. You get one person one piece of chocolate and then abstain from chocolate for a week, and another person as much chocolate as they want for a week. Then you give them one piece at the end of that week and have them rate the chocolate. You take a large enough sample of that test and you'll see the people who abstained will rate the chocolate at the end of the week much higher than the people who over indulged.

Over saturation of the mind really does exist.

medv4380:
Too much isn't exactly as "subjective" as Bob's making it to be. Burnout is a real psychological term, and is reference to becoming mentally exhausted.

For example, my wife had interest in The Walking Dead Series, but because she hit burnout with their overuse of murdering characters she stopped watching.

I think you just proved it subjective, or at least not a universal thing. If it was, everybody who watched the Walking Dead would have stopped watching due to the same burnout.

There is definitely such a thing as 'too much', but that level varies wildly from person to person.

I think there are two other major factors as to why superheroes are getting a lot of attention now versus their decades-long existences:

1) Film-making technology has finally reached the point where we can more or less believably recreate the frankly impossible scenes depicted in the no-physics-required pencils-and-ink medium comics have enjoyed forever. "You will believe a man can fly" was nearly 40 years ago. "You will believe a giant green rage-monster can punch out an alien dreadnaught while a man in a metal suit flies around shooting down smaller aliens in the middle of NYC" would have been almost inconceivable (and/or camp as hell) then.

2) Many modern film-makers grew up as fans and have been wanting to see their heroes "done correctly" on the big screen for most of their lives. While that's obviously not true for everyone who has been producing these movies (e.g, Kenneth Brannagh directing the first Thor) it is certainly more true today than it would have been 40-50 years ago.

Well said.

Just one quibble, Bob:

MovieBob:
"Jay Gatsby, Christian Gray, and Conan the Barbarian all come from books, but nobody calls their respective films part of the same genre."

No, but then again they're not all tied to one of two decades-long-running multimedia franchises full of multiple characters, timelines, continuities, genres, and retcons crossing over with each other all the time (even briefly with each other). It's one thing when movies come out of standalone niche indie comics, but all the recent blockbuster comic movies are based on Big Two superheroes, and it could take months of immersion to get a decent working knowledge of this specific (but overwhelming) area of the medium.

Personally, as someone who enjoyed every animated superhero series and live-action adaptation growing up but avoided Big Two books for his entire adolescence because of how convoluted and messy all that continuity was, I think the best thing the non-geek critic can do is ignore like 90% of it. A film should be able to engage you with good characters, storytelling, and maybe spectacle without needing encyclopedic knowledge of the subject going in. Do you need a degree in history to appreciate or criticize a historical picture? Of course not. It should be the same with superhero movies. Just do some Googling to get the characters and setting elements straight, and that should be fine.

I'd say the very reason there is not yet burnout on "superhero" movies is because, like movies PERIOD, the variety, tones, and genres are all over the map.

So if you don't like a high fantasy story with elves and mythological magic heroes like Thor, why not watch an intense espionage action thriller like Captain America? If a bunch of costumed heroes grouping together to fight an alien invasion in Avengers is too unbelievable, why not watch the grounded and dark crime drama of The Dark Knight? If Watchmen is too different and strange and alien for your comfort zone, why not watch the more pedestrian Amazing Spider-man instead?

I agree with what many of said before, that "superheroes" are the "Greek mythology" of our day and age. We've simply replaced larger-than-life heroes like Perseus, Hercules, Jason, and Achilles with Iron Man, Superman, Batman, and Captain America.

Audiences won't "burn out" until the quality drops and the genres homogenize. So long as they can avoid duds like Catwoman, X-men Origins Wolverine, and Ghost Rider, I think people will continue to GROW in their appreciation for modern heroes saving the world from supervillains on the big screen with increasingly interesting and amazing powers.

Bring on Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, and Rocket Raccoon.

Falterfire:

medv4380:
Too much isn't exactly as "subjective" as Bob's making it to be. Burnout is a real psychological term, and is reference to becoming mentally exhausted.

For example, my wife had interest in The Walking Dead Series, but because she hit burnout with their overuse of murdering characters she stopped watching.

I think you just proved it subjective, or at least not a universal thing. If it was, everybody who watched the Walking Dead would have stopped watching due to the same burnout.

There is definitely such a thing as 'too much', but that level varies wildly from person to person.

Subjective implies that it cannot be accurately measured. The chocolate study proves it can be.

medv4380:
Too much isn't exactly as "subjective" as Bob's making it to be. Burnout is a real psychological term, and is reference to becoming mentally exhausted.

For example, my wife had interest in The Walking Dead Series, but because she hit burnout with their overuse of murdering characters so she stopped watching.

Over indulgence has also been shown to diminished interest. You get one person one piece of chocolate and then abstain from chocolate for a week, and another person as much chocolate as they want for a week. Then you give them one piece at the end of that week and have them rate the chocolate. You take a large enough sample of that test and you'll see the people who abstained will rate the chocolate at the end of the week much higher than the people who over indulged.

Over saturation of the mind really does exist.

The point of burnout is different for everyone;therefore, that is what he means when he says subjective.

medv4380:
Too much isn't exactly as "subjective" as Bob's making it to be. Burnout is a real psychological term, and is reference to becoming mentally exhausted.

For example, my wife had interest in The Walking Dead Series, but because she hit burnout with their overuse of murdering characters she stopped watching.

Over indulgence has also been shown to diminished interest. You get one person one piece of chocolate and then abstain from chocolate for a week, and another person as much chocolate as they want for a week. Then you give them one piece at the end of that week and have them rate the chocolate. You take a large enough sample of that test and you'll see the people who abstained will rate the chocolate at the end of the week much higher than the people who over indulged.

Over saturation of the mind really does exist.

I think he is not saying that saturation is a subjective matter; but the threshold to define whether you are saturated is. Some people feel the current offer in comic book heroes movies is "too much", while others are still interested in new ones coming; same way many of us reached saturation of Call of Duty years ago, but many people hasn't...

One point MovieBob doesn't make, is that it also depends on the places and niches one moves. For people that are not interested in comic books, they might know who Batman and Spiderman are through cultural osmosis, but they might not know that Scott Pilgrim and Wanted are also based on comics and does not perceive Percy Jackson and 300 as more than Harry Potter and Lord of the the Rings with Greeks.

Of course, us being in these forums and commenting on these articles proves that we are far more involved in these subjects that the average person; we know about this franchises and read about their development on a semi-regular basis, so maybe we are not the most obvious "go to" person to say whether the market has reached a saturation point or not...

I'm sure way more critics and audiences liked ASM and Man of Steel than you think, Bob. "Universally reviled" my ass.
But you did give me a good laugh (and raise a good point) with the CoD-style FPS's flooding the market.

This is not a new phenomenon. There was once a time when action movies ruled the roost, and a movie like Die Hard is very different from Rambo. Similarly, fantasy fiction adaptations gained popularity, and while Lord of the Rings was different from Harry Potter, they still came from the same genre. Eventually, Superhero movies will go the same path, and soon some other genre will rise. It is inevitable.

Comic book movies prove popular with the foreign markets because nuance and subtleties don't cross language barriers very well. You better believe it's all about the spectacle and mindless action. Asia didn't gobble up The Avengers because of "the witty lines" or "the good message at its heart". They loved it because this is a genre where the climax is ALWAYS "Good guy punches out bad guy."

Personally I can't wait for the comic book blockbusters to die down. The list of comic book movies that wowed me is short, and it's even shorter if you only include the Big 2 comic book movies on there (basically the X-men and Batman movies).

While I do agree that the variety allowed by superhero action movies means they haven't hit oversaturation yet, I disagree with the notion that it can't happen. While there is a lot of variety, the fact remains that all these superhero movies are special effects laden action films with a clear protagonist and strong moral allegories (or more blatant than allegories, at times).

That's restrictive enough that, as they crop up with more frequency, I feel there is some danger of reaching oversaturation, and with Marvel in particular, as they introduce more characters and keep expanding the franchise, there is a risk of reaching oversaturation within the franchise, wherein people who are invested in the franchise decide it's too much to keep up with and decide to call it quits.

Now, by no means am I saying this is going to happen, or that if it does it won't just settle out at manageable levels, but I also wouldn't say that it's beyond the realm of possibility.

I doubt we'll hit a saturation point anytime soon. This is a generation in which 2 months is old and movies hit DVD after 6 months. It also helps that every comicbook movie does not require you to know every single character in order to enjoy the films (although there is enough in there to acknowledge the fans who do know everything). At the end of the day, the only thing a critic needs to worry about is "is this a good movie?" If nobody needed knowledge of the Battle of Thermopylae to enjoy 300 (the central plot of the movie), movie goers do not need to have knowledge of Dr. Fate to enjoy an Aquaman movie (I would quite enjoy an Aquaman movie if it is done right). A good movie will set itself up so you know everything you need to know to get into it.

I largely agree, and it's interesting that the new Captain America is doing as well overseas as it is ($207 million and counting.) There's a temptation- especially for critics- to think of the audience for "blockbuster" movies as looking for shallow escapism, if not simply out-and-out thinking that they're not very bright. That such a large foreign audience apparently was able to see past the American visual trappings of the character to the more universal idealism beneath might make movie studios take notice.

(Or maybe movies with big action scenes and explosions sell, regardless of nationality, says the cynic.)

So I've got to pick nits, again...

Man of Steel was "critically reviled"? (*cough*)revisionist history(*cough*)

Man of Steel got 56% on Rotten tomatoes, and 55% on Metacritic. That's not overwhelming adoration, certainly, but it doesn't suggest anything like critically revilement. Apathy, sure. Revilement? No.

More to the point, if only a slight majority of critics favoring a movie now constitutes "revilement", what are we to make of the chances of poor 300: Rise of an Empire (42%/47%) or Raze (47%/41%)?

Of course there isn't too many superhero or comic book adapted films. There isn't going to be a burn out and they're not going away anytime soon.

There's 4 coming out this year (X-men, Cap 2, ASM2, and Guardians) and 3 coming out next year (Avengers 2, Ant-Man, and Fantastic 4). Out of 200 movies released in a year, this is a small percentage.

And about burnout, we already know what the breaking point is. Westerns. Westerns were made for the better part of 50 years before they became out of style. At one point Hollywood made upwards of 60 westerns a year. That's the breaking point.

Callate:

Man of Steel was "critically reviled"? (*cough*)revisionist history(*cough*)

Man of Steel got 56% on Rotten tomatoes, and 55% on Metacritic. That's not overwhelming adoration, certainly, but it doesn't suggest anything like critically revilement. Apathy, sure. Revilement? No.

More to the point, if only a slight majority of critics favoring a movie now constitutes "revilement", what are we to make of the chances of poor 300: Rise of an Empire (42%/47%) or Raze (47%/41%)?

Of the movies released last summer, the tentpole blockbusters. Man of Steel was the worst reviewed. It has the lowest scores of any blockbuster. It's probably the lowest score in the past 2 years for these types of movies.

daibakuha:

Callate:

Man of Steel was "critically reviled"? (*cough*)revisionist history(*cough*)

Man of Steel got 56% on Rotten tomatoes, and 55% on Metacritic. That's not overwhelming adoration, certainly, but it doesn't suggest anything like critically revilement. Apathy, sure. Revilement? No.

More to the point, if only a slight majority of critics favoring a movie now constitutes "revilement", what are we to make of the chances of poor 300: Rise of an Empire (42%/47%) or Raze (47%/41%)?

Of the movies released last summer, the tentpole blockbusters. Man of Steel was the worst reviewed. It has the lowest scores of any blockbuster. It's probably the lowest score in the past 2 years for these types of movies.

I'm still shocked DC is, for all intents and purposes, putting all their eggs in one basket with Man of Steel as their "pillar" for a DC universe, despite being a certified "rotten" film on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as splitting the fanbase pretty profusely (I gave the film a fair shake and walked away very disappointed, with no enthusiasm for another).

For Marvel, it made sense. "Iron Man" was their pillar, a critically lauded, fan-beloved rock solid start to a great new universe. You couldn't find a better film to build a cinematic universe upon, and that film united the Marvel faithful like few films before.

Man of Steel did less to "unite" DC fans than it did to divide them. Some really did like the film... and just as many really despised it. I would certainly not want to say "yeah, let's make THAT film the template for all our future DC movies".

Johnny Depp is going to be in Marvel movies one way or another. Better Jack Sparrow than him hamming the character out of a real Marvel hero.

Also, one of the things I liked about Captain America: The First Avenger is that it was mostly a WW2 movie. Maybe not a very deep or historically accurate one, but I definitely agree "superhero" movies are not only not a genre, but can hit one or more genres. I mean, the comics used to be a dozen different genres, too. It's part of what makes the combined universe so weird. I mean, combining super soldiers with people who sell their souls to demons, aliens from strange dimensions, genetic abnormalities, and super-advanced robots.

medv4380:
Too much isn't exactly as "subjective" as Bob's making it to be. Burnout is a real psychological term, and is reference to becoming mentally exhausted.

Too much is still a subjective concept, as what threshold of something causes burnout varies widely. Bob's statement that a mind can't really fill up may be inaccurate, but the notion that "too much" is a subjective measure is actually exemplified by various mental issues that involve just that. I get overwhelmed by my surroundings after than most people, but just because the noise in a given bar might be "too much" for me doesn't mean that will be for anyone else.

On the other hand, I've seen people say they were suffering "too much" from injuries I'd walk off. One size does not fit all.

Or look at the variety of causes of PTSD. Some people will lose it the first time they see someone die in combat, while their buddy might end up sluicing through entrails without issue.

daibakuha:
Of the movies released last summer, the tentpole blockbusters. Man of Steel was the worst reviewed. It has the lowest scores of any blockbuster. It's probably the lowest score in the past 2 years for these types of movies.

Well, there was Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012 (48%/57%), released in June 2012. And Breaking Dawn 2, though that was released in November (48%/52%). I guess the key to a critically maligned blockbuster is Kristen Stewart. I'm tempted to argue that has more to do with the company it's kept- a couple of Hobbit movies, a new James Bond, Avengers, Iron Man 3, the last Dark Knight, and Brave, among them. And not a Transformers movie in sight (57%/61%, 20%/35%, and 36%/42%, respectively.)

Still, I concede the point within the limits that it was fairly negatively received for a blockbuster. I wouldn't go as far as to call that "critically reviled", however.

Callate:

Man of Steel was "critically reviled"? (*cough*)revisionist history(*cough*)

It's more hyperbole, and Bob does it a lot. It really puzzles me that people will come into a Moviebob thread surprised he's being hyperbolic. It's either part of who he is or part of his persona. I don't really know enough about him to know the difference.

It'd be like going into a Zero Punctuation thread and questioning Yahtzee's sarcastic condescension.

I don't see burnout or too many movies atm (heck just look at ever increasing box offices) but there will be a point they will sorta crash(marvel seems to be doing an okay job staving off the sameyness that the genre can have with the more oddball elements GotG) but I just can't see myself remaining interested in superhero movies a whole lot longer and I kinda get that feeling from friends and family. You see a marvel movie it will be good, have a mix of comedy and action, hints at the next movie/references to villians or heros upcoming.

CA2 was great but at the end I was just kinda like meh, I wish I had seen the raid 2, or stayed home and watch GoT. I'm psyched fot GotG but after that meh, days of future past, AS2, avengers 2, antman, all just do not appeal to me for some reason.

To keep me invested more needs to be happening, a major character needs to die, spidey needs to somehow show up for avengers idk just something and faster.

Its why i've enjoyed arrow as a tv show yeah theres filler episodes but there's always a new villian, and hero popping up(while not seeming like they are just throwing things at the wall) or some sort of drama happening.

TLDR version. Sometimes being good isn't enough.

How does MovieBob equate blowing up half of China with reaching out to Chinese audiences? The only reason American action films are set abroad is to exploit fascination with "foreign" lands in American audiences and blow them up. Aliens can't destroy New York every franchise installment and boy what a small world that would be. It's more fun interesting for Americans to watch some weird thing make a mess somewhere else, watch America kick its ass, and assume things got cleaned up 'somehow' after the Heroes all went home and ate some freedom fries (or Shawarma). ;)

strumbore:
How does MovieBob equate blowing up half of China with reaching out to Chinese audiences? The only reason American action films are set abroad is to exploit fascination with "foreign" lands in American audiences and blow them up. Aliens can't destroy New York every franchise installment and boy what a small world that would be. It's more fun to watch some weird thing make a mess somewhere else, watch America kick its ass, and assume things got cleaned up 'somehow' after the Heroes all went home and ate some freedom fries (or Shawarma). ;)

Bombing someone is like reaching out to someone. From a pretty good distance, depending on the delivery method...

Well Sasha Stone seems to be a bit of an arsehole.
OT: If you can't keep up with it do what I do and DON'T.
However if you're a film critic that would probably be a bad work ethic.
I agree that Marvel is being really stupid in the way they're chucking in characters left right and centre that are of huge importance to fans of the comics but mean jack-shit to anyone else. I feel as if I miss any film then I may as well not watch all subsequent ones. So I haven't been. For a while now.

Interesting, but I'm more interested in brand confusion that all these hero flicks could be making. Does somebody not in the know go to see Amazing Spider-Man and wonder why Iron-Man never makes a guest appearance, unaware that they are different studios despite sharing the same comic universe? I still get the occasional person thinking themselves to smart and insightful with their "Why is Batman not in the Avengers? It's obviously a good business decision!"
And of course, if the Amazing Spider-Man absolutely SUCKED (true story) that could turn people off Marvel's next big project if they don't know that ASM had nothing to do with Marvel Studios.

strumbore:
How does MovieBob equate blowing up half of China with reaching out to Chinese audiences? The only reason American action films are set abroad is to exploit fascination with "foreign" lands in American audiences and blow them up. Aliens can't destroy New York every franchise installment and boy what a small world that would be. It's more fun interesting for Americans to watch some weird thing make a mess somewhere else, watch America kick its ass, and assume things got cleaned up 'somehow' after the Heroes all went home and ate some freedom fries (or Shawarma). ;)

Having Aliens invade China is popular for Chinese people for the same reasons that American audiences cheered at the White House exploding in the Independence Day trailer. People like light-hearted large-scale destruction and they like it in places they know.

Scars Unseen:
Bombing someone is like reaching out to someone. From a pretty good distance, depending on the delivery method...

Well, it is the traditional American greeting.

So... Who else actually wants to know how Jack would manage to keep himself alive a few hundred more years and give himself the abilities? Cause he sure as hell ain't gonna be usin smarts to accidentally give himself power armor or superpowers.

JaceArveduin:
So... Who else actually wants to know how Jack would manage to keep himself alive a few hundred more years and give himself the abilities? Cause he sure as hell ain't gonna be usin smarts to accidentally give himself power armor or superpowers.

He can always become the next Davy Jones if I read that power set right. He grows tentacles and becomes the Marvel answer to Aquaman.

Veylon:

JaceArveduin:
So... Who else actually wants to know how Jack would manage to keep himself alive a few hundred more years and give himself the abilities? Cause he sure as hell ain't gonna be usin smarts to accidentally give himself power armor or superpowers.

He can always become the next Davy Jones if I read that power set right. He grows tentacles and becomes the Marvel answer to Aquaman.

I actually ended up "brainstorming" with a friend and came up with a crazy ass idea! I'll spare these poor souls, but I'll go into a bit more detail if you want.

I don't know about anybody else, but personally I haven't found many other movies to be good and interesting enough to bother watching besides superhero movies since around the time of the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man. I find even the critically panned stuff is better than most of what else comes out these days. I don't know if my tastes changed at that point (doubtful) or if the superhero movies just make the rest look like crap in comparison. So for that reason I hope the superhero bubble doesn't burst anytime soon.

immortalfrieza:
I don't know about anybody else, but personally I haven't found many other movies to be good and interesting enough to bother watching besides superhero movies since around the time of the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man. I find even the critically panned stuff is better than most of what else comes out these days. I don't know if my tastes changed at that point (doubtful) or if the superhero movies just make the rest look like crap in comparison. So for that reason I hope the superhero bubble doesn't burst anytime soon.

+1. This is how I look at movies: I don't have the time or money to go watch *every* movie. I go to the cinema to experience escapism, with big screen and surround sound. If I feel like a romcom, a crime drama, etc - I will wait for the video, unless I feel like getting out the house and there is nothing else on; or I've been invited to a screening by friends.

People seem to be so hating on Marvel's success. "Just you wait", "law of averages", "the bubble will burst". Rubbish. The main reason for Marvel's success if because the films have all been well made, decent action, decent laughs, great fun. Even the poorer ones had great moments. This isn't an issue of genre; it's an issue of quality.

Personally, I'm still holding out hope that some day we'll get a NEXTWAVE movie.

We don't deserve it as a species, but we need it.

More of MovieBob hating on Man of Steel and Spiderman...yawn.

Seriously Bob mate you're like a broken record now. Some of us actually enjoyed those films and they made tons of money, they aren't as universally banned as you'd like them to be.

Superhero movies are a lot more homogenous than you're making them out to be.

Conan and Gatsby probably didn't have a single shared individual involved in the creation of both works. All of the current crop of superheroes originate from one of two content-managed product lines with little individual creative control, and there's a huge amount of crossover even between those product lines. It's not comparable to the relationship of Gatsby to Conan, it's comparable to the relationship between Conan (the Barbarian) and Conan (the Thief).

That said, critics sometimes have a skewed perspective on when a subject has been 'exhausted' because they actually have to watch everything. For the actual viewers who are the people that finance movies in the end, there's only 'too much' of something if it's drowning out variety and it's difficult or inconvenient to just watch something else.

Since if I'm sick of damned Superhero nonsense I can easily just buy a ticket to the Raid 2 or that pretentious Wes Anderson movie or that one about the cartoon parrots at the same theater instead of seeing Captain America, it's not really 'too much', it's entirely avoidable and if I'm done with it I can just not watch it without having to give up friday at the movies entirely. Not a big deal.

(If we ever get superhero movies from some non-Marvel/non-DC source material on a regular basis then maybe there will be less of a valid point about them kind of getting repetitive. The main issue is the status quo requirement that Marvel/DC properties have, it makes character arcs really predictable. You can still have good narrative arcs as in the CA2 movie, but I'd like to see them do something like make an Invincible movie where things actually change and such.)

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