I’ve heard people jokingly (and not so jokingly) ask if the end of superhero movies is near. The thing is, superhero movies have become their own genre so to ask for an end would be like asking for the end of romantic comedies, horror movies, or spy thrillers. Also, superhero movies aren’t anything new. They’ve existed long before the Avengers hit screens, and they’ll be around long after. I have no complaints about a new movie or two being released each year, but I can understand the exhaustion people are having. We don’t need an end though. We need variety.
One of the issues is that every recent superhero movie is linked together and all done through the same company. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is impressive, it doesn’t allow much separation because there are movies for each of the main Avengers leading in to the Avenger trilogy. Viewers are stuck in the same universe over and over again even though they’re able to see different stories taking place in that universe.
One of the reasons people praised Deadpool was that it felt separate. It wasn’t done by Marvel so it didn’t connect and it kept itself apart from Fox’s other franchise, the X-Men (there were jokes, but that was a given). Deadpool also took on a wildly different tone, which made it a refreshing addition to the genre. I’d like to see more films follow suit either by making superhero movies that are separate from the MCU or making ones that explore different tones, styles, and storytelling.
DC does well in making their movies different from Marvel, but they’re also trying to build a connected universe that will carry on the same dark and gritty feel of Batman Vs. Superman or the Dark Knight trilogy. I’d like to see DC heroes star in films that aren’t always trying to be edgy or grim, and I’d like to see Marvel films that take on a different spin without requiring a marathon of movies from the ever growing MCU.
I feel like the TV series are doing well with separation though (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, Supergirl, etc.). Every show has it’s own unique feel that is connected to another show in some way, but it connects in a subtle way. One that invites the viewer to check out the other series/movies, but doesn’t require them to. Someone can watch Agent Carter without seeing the first Captain America and understand the plot completely. The show also takes advantage of its 1940’s setting by giving the series a vintage aesthetic and plays with issues of the time. It’s connected to the MCU, but it feels complete by itself with a unique look and feel.
I love superheroes. I love superhero films. I don’t want to see the genre die, but I would like some variety. We need more content like Deadpool or Agent Carter that finds its own path rather than following a worn down trail. There’s no need for an end, but there is need for creativity and growth within the genre.