Are We Getting Sick of Comic Book Movies?

Have you had enough of the super hero movies?

I'm not sick of comic book movies. Whenever I see or hear someone say they're sick of something, it's not really the thing they're sick of, it's the type of thing they're sick of. Because of Marvel's massive saturation of the market with only their brand of super hero movie, it's easy to say we're sick of seeing them. To be honest, I am, too... a bit. I'm getting a little worn on their formula and it's pretty easy to see where a Marvel film is heading. Everyone and their mother is a fan of Marvel now. It doesn't feel special anymore to be a comic book fan. Everyone feels they can say that now. Whenever I come across a fellow comic book geek and all they like is Marvel, quite frankly, I usually tune them out. It's not fair, but for better or worse, it's kind of what it's turned into. Really? You love Iron Man and Captain America? Who doesn't? My mom likes Iron Man and Captain America. This is not a sleight against Marvel fans because I am one. It's just the way things are now thanks to the MCU. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not one of those, I-liked-it-before-it-was-cool-and-now-I-don't-because-it's-popular people, because like I started this article, I'm not sick of comic book movies. I'm just growing tired of the sameness.

I thought that Age of Ultron was going to be a great launch pad for a twist in direction for Marvel, but it wasn't. If it's not broke, why fix it is what the studio thinks. To a certain degree that's true, but I think it's now entering that threshold of a turning point for audiences. If Age of Ultron really wanted to set a new bar, it could have, but they didn't. It could have reinjected some freshness into Marvel's franchise, but it didn't. It's a fun movie, but that's all it is, and for a lot of people that's fine. Marvel's formula might need a slight reworking if they want to stay relevant in the next decade, especially with competition from DC, which WB is certainly too invested in to let go of.

Too dark, huh?
Something irks me, though. Granted, there are people on the fence or completely miffed with almost everything going on with DC's cinematic universe right now, but if you really follow the development of the projects, the award-winning, and insanely talented people involved, and the material they're pulling from, I don't think there is a good reason to think DC aren't planning on bringing something wildly different to the superhero movie-verse. After seeing the BvS trailer, while it doesn't show much, it certainly feels significantly darker than what we're used to. What really is shocking to me is that fans, or so-called fans, think it's too dark and they're turned off by it. What? Have you read, like, any Batman books in the last, I dunno, 30 years? I mean, Joker willingly gets his own face cut off and essentially staples it back on! I think because people are far too used to Marvel that when they see something as aesthetically foreboding as that BvS trailer, their knee-jerk reaction is to think it looks bad.

I think there is a cognitive dissonance at play here amongst audiences and fans where we've been conditioned to expect a certain thing and when that certain thing conflicts with what we're used to we write it off even though we say we're getting sick of the old stuff. You can't have it both ways. Is it too dark? Is it not dark enough? Really think about it. The new DC movie-verse can mimic Marvel's lighthearted, fun formula, therefore offering nothing new and inevitably get lost in the noise of Marvel's market saturation. They can retread to Nolan's grounded, safe, family-friendly level of darkness, and again offer nothing new, subjecting themselves to far too many comparisons to an already successful and also totally finished trilogy. The only choice, really, is to go for the throat, peel away layers from the darkness of the source material and do it right for once.

Of course I can't say for sure that BvS is going to be that kick in the pants we need, but if you know what to look for, it should be obvious that they know what they need to do and are doing exactly that. It's just smart business. They can't do what Marvel is doing, otherwise why see a DC movie when Marvel has been doing that thing really well already for the past 8 years? They know that they need to set themselves apart, and render "competition" a useless word. While opinions on Man of Steel's quality is almost precisely divided in half, all signs point to them learning from their mistakes (for the sake of argument) and pulling out all of the stops for BvS and Suicide Squad. I think they aim to prove something. I think they aim to prove they have real estate in the comic movie-verse that Marvel hasn't claimed or even touched yet.

So, are we really getting sick of comic book movies or are we getting tired of seeing Marvel's brand of super hero? Honestly, does Marvel really need to change? Probably not. I think just having DC's darker angle in the same world as Marvel's lighter one will offer enough of a contrast that Marvel might not have to change anything they're doing and everyone wins in the end.

We're never going to see the end of comic book movies. I really don't think it's just a trend like disaster flicks were. Comics as we know them have been around for several decades. The amount of material that we haven't touched yet, or that is still down the pipeline provides an endless pool of exciting stories to pull from. There is an epic ton of genres, styles, characters, and universes that offer something far different than what we're used to than the typical Avenger movie. Granted, Daredevil is a long needed departure into some new territory for Marvel, but should it stay on Netflix or TV?

I think it's short sighted to say we're sick of comic book movies, when we've barely scraped off the top of what's possible. What about the bizarre, horror universe of Swamp Thing or the surreal nightmare that is the Sandman series? What about the "gonzo" journalism cyberpunk insanity that is Transmetropolitan? There's some really wild, deep stuff out there that hasn't been seen yet, not only in just comic book movies, but in all of film. Saying you're sick of comic book movies is like saying you're sick of food. Well, maybe if we let the cooks know we're sick of steak and potatoes and would like some crab cakes and miso soup instead, they could change the menu up a bit?

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- J.G. Barnes

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