Is The Superhero Genre Declining?
Will the future still be superheroes? There’s no denying that modern cinema has been dominated by the genre thanks to the tremendous success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. However, 2022 arguably proved that audiences might be getting tired of superhero films. The top-grossing films of 2022 are Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water. Marvel released three features: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love & Thunder, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and none of those films made it into the billion-dollar club. DC wasn’t any better. While many would agree that The Batman was a tremendous movie, that film failed to cross the billion-dollar mark as well.
Now, the reason for Marvel’s decline at the box office is simple. It all came down to the lack of quality and over-saturation in the film and television division. The company focused heavily on Disney Plus last year, and most of its lackluster content drained audiences of their excitement. However, 2023 is a brand new year. For Marvel, it’s also the start of a brand new phase. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicks off Phase Five, and it should be interesting to see how well the latest Marvel offering does at the box office.
How Long Can Comic Book Movies Last?
Granted, the Ant-Man series doesn’t necessarily have the best track record at the box office. The first film made $519.3 million worldwide. The second, Ant-Man and the Wasp, garnered only $622.7 million. To be fair, most filmmakers would dream of making a film that made over $500 million at the box office. However, the series isn’t exactly the hottest brand in Marvel compared to Guardians of the Galaxy. Even Captain Marvel managed to cross the billion-dollar mark in 2019. However, Ant-Man is a core part of the original Avengers, and it’s a telling sign if the film doesn’t at least make $700 million worldwide.
Does it confirm that audiences are getting tired of superhero films? Possibly, though to Kevin Feige, the famed producer doesn’t think that audiences will ever get sick of the superhero stuff, ”
“I’ve been at Marvel Studios for over 22 years, and most of us here at Marvel Studios have been around a decade or longer together,” Feige said on “The Movie Business Podcast,” hosted by Jason E. Squire, an author and professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. “From probably my second year at Marvel, people were asking, ‘Well, how long is this going to last? Is this fad of comic book movies going to end?’”
Kevin Feige Shuts Down This Notion
Feige further explored this by bringing up novels and how no one raises that question despite the hundreds of films adapted from a novel. “I didn’t really understand the question. Because to me, it was akin to saying after Gone With the Wind, “Well, how many more movies can be made off of novels? Do you think the audience will sour on movies being adapted from books?” You would never ask that because there’s an inherent understanding among most people that a book can be anything. A novel can have any type of story whatsoever. So it all depends on what story you’re translating. Non-comic readers don’t understand that it’s the same thing in comics.”
Feige basically finishes by explaining that if Marvel can tell the right story that’s unique and different, then the state of superheroes should be fine for the foreseeable future, “I found that if we tell the story right, and we adapt them in a way that the audience still – knock on wood so far – is following us along 22-plus years later… we can [make] any type of movies that share two things: the Marvel Studios logo above the title and a seed of an idea from our publishing history.”
In theory, Feige is correct in that quality matters. It’s the main reason why the Marvel cinematic universe was such a huge success in the beginning. We’ll see how all the superhero films do at the box office. Of course, given the heavy rumors about DC rebranding their universe, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if their current 2023 films didn’t do particularly well.