The continuing rise of the superhero genre
Every time I think that the superhero genre is finally going to pass the torch to another genre in order to take over the mainstream, the genre just keeps reinventing itself and staying prominent as a result. The release of “Avengers: Endgame” recently was the end of an era for the genre. It was the culmination of a 22-film series with the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially referred to as “The Infinity Saga.”
One might think that audiences would want a break from the genre, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. “Spider-man: Far From Home,” the next film in both Sony’s Spider-man franchise and in the MCU, has given the summer box office a much needed boost. In its second weekend, “Far From Home” has made almost $850 million at the box office. Not only is it a great movie, but it also acts as an epilogue to “Endgame” while teasing where the MCU might be going from here on out.
This isn’t the first time that the popular genre has gone through an evolution, though. When the genre hit big in the 2000s with the release of “X-men” and “Spider-man,” Hollywood started to take the genre seriously and every studio under the sun was trying to create a superhero film. Unfortunately, there were growing pains.
Even though the X-men and Spider-man series was going strong, some noticeably dull superhero films were emerging. Films such as “Daredevil,” “Fantastic Four” and “Hulk” were valiant efforts to give us good and serious superhero films, but the studios still had to work out how to adapt these films. As a result of more lackluster films such as “Superman Returns” and “The Punisher,” the box office numbers started to slide.
However, the entire genre evolved in 2008 with the release of two very important films. “Iron Man” officially kicked off the MCU while “The Dark Knight” showed us that if you have the right talent behind them, even a superhero film could be an award worthy effort that could not only elevate the genre, but transcend it. Believe it or not, though, the box office numbers for the early MCU films weren’t exactly groundbreaking.
“The Incredible Hulk,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” did decent business at the box office, but they were nowhere near enough to foreshadow what was to come. Thankfully, though, “The Avengers” came out in 2012 and showed audiences what Marvel Studios was trying to accomplish. From here on out, it wasn’t just about creating a film series, it was about creating a film universe, a franchise consisting of several different series that are all tied together.
Sure, there have still been stumbling blocks along the way. DC, wanting to catch up to Marvel Studios, quickly rushed their films out with decidedly negative results. Now, though, they seem to have learned their lesson with the successful releases of “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman” and “Shazam!” They’re even developing a new Batman film series starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne and helmed by “War for the Planet of the Apes,” director Matt Reeves.
What is great is that with “Far From Home” blowing up the box office, I actually don’t see an end in sight for the genre thanks to the MCU. They’re already planning their next big storyline and it’s exciting to see that they’ll be heading in a different direction from where the initial films went. Rumor has it that we’ll actually learn more about where the MCU is officially going when they make their way to the San Diego Comic-con.
I’ve tried to predict when the superhero genre was going to die down in the past. For any fans of the genre and to the dismay of anyone who happens not to like them, I’m happy to report that, so long as they continue to evolve, the superhero genre isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
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