In full disclosure, I posit that I wasn’t too thrilled by the last Avengers movie. When anyone asked me how much I liked Age of Ultron, my answer has always been that I liked it just as much as the first Avengers movie; no more and no less. The more I think about it, the more I think that there is a problem in that answer in that when a sequel has been done well, it should stand out more than the first one. But it didn’t. When I look at the whole genre of comic book movies that have been released in the past 10 – 15 years, there was a time when I was really excited but now, when I look, I don’t think I feel that same ‘rush’ that I had when some of these movies trickled out years ago. A large part of that has to do with comic book movies weren’t being released as frequently as they are now.
I think the question that should be asked, have we reached a point of over-saturation of comic book movies? What does the dollar say in relation to reviews? It really depends on who you talk to. As most comic book fans will say, this is an exciting time to be a fan. Many of the comics that we have loved from childhood are now being brought to life in many ways that we never thought possible, thanks to CGI technology. We have seen worlds and situations that just could not be done as well, 30 years ago. But yet, if you peer into any internet forum long enough, one can see many debates rage over those comics we grew up with coming to life. The biggest argument of all is always the ‘this isn’t the comic I grew up on’ line when it comes to movies. Fans have debated everything from casting, to story direction, moral and ethical dilemmas and so on.
While debates are good to keep the buzz about movies going, there are underlying debates emerging as well and that is the ‘sameness’ of some of these movies. Sometimes that ‘sameness’ can make fans feel like “enough is enough already” when it comes to comic book movies. When one figures in the budget needed to make these movies, you have to consider the over the top special effects needed to sell the world that you want viewers to believe, the apocalyptic levels of destruction that comes with some of them, and the intricate believability of cliffhanger stories so that viewers can be sold on the sequels. When it comes to defining that ‘sameness’ a lot of it has to do with ‘end of the world scenarios’, over the top cardboard villains, and overall deja vu. One exception of this was Captain America: Winter Soldier which was more of a thriller than it was capes and powers movie and it was an enjoyable film.
We all know how this works as money talks. As long as we spend box office dollars on a movie based on a comic book we love (or for the twisted few that say they went to see it just to hate on it), studios will keep pumping them out. I personally just wonder when looking at the slate of movies between now and 2020, if interests in these movies will survive. As of right now Avengers: Age of Ultron has made $1.4 billion worldwide, pretty good for a movie that by Rotten Tomatoes unofficial measurements didn’t rank up review wise to the original. Ant-man has done decently at $326 million worldwide and well…there is Fantastic Four which will not make any of its money back and is a certified bomb.
In my opinion, I don’t think it’s going to be one movie bombing that will burst the comic book movie bubble. I think it’s going be a series of mediocre movies (like Sin City 2, Thor Dark World and Iron Man 3, yes, I said it) that will cause fans to say “enough!” especially when some of the upcoming movies are high profile movies. Part of it, I think has to do with the fact that as long as companies like Marvel Studios continues cranking out interconnected movies that have the “you just have to see or you may miss something big” mentality, audiences will continue supporting. The problem is keeping interest high in their franchises at a point that audiences will still forgive when some of the sequels aren’t as good as the originals. Also considering the blistering pace some of these movies are coming out, it stands to wonder if the same time and care is being put into some of these movies as some of the earlier ones were shown.
The Iron Man trilogy is a good example of a franchise that started off well and then faltered. Sadly it also holds true for a lot of movies in that it’s rare when the 2nd and third movies outshine the original. The first Iron Man movie was a great origin story but by the time you got to the 2nd and 3rd movies, the ‘soul searching’ stories and the antagonists were mostly forgettable. Even when you figure in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the 3rd movie stumbled where the first 2 shined. Coupled with the schism among fans of the Man of Steel movie and one can see why there is concern for the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie. We want movies to be good. We would hope that studios aren’t just pushing them out to make a quick buck and sometimes it seems like that is exactly what is happening.
I think as fans, we really should look at the list of upcoming movies and ask how much more are we willing to stand? Are we really excited for many of the comic book movies coming out and why? Is it because they are adding something to a previous story? Is it showing us something we never thought possible? When I look at the slate of movies due out between now and 2020, the hard truth is, I am not super excited about any of these except maybe Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War. A lot of it I think has to do with the fact that we are at a point that so many are coming out that you can set your watch by it. And just for me personally, I have reached a point that so many movies come out now that it’s rare that something excites me enough to warrant a 2nd or 3rd view. The last movie I got on Blu-ray or for any home use was Avengers.
As a fan I still have some excitement when it comes to comic book movies, maybe not as much as I did a few years ago. There are a few that I still go see opening weekend so that I feel like I can be part of the conversation. I still like some of the excitement and hype that comes from these movies being released. What I haven’t liked is with all of the hype many of these movies have, including multiple trailers (which sometimes spoil the movies), merchandising, and all manners of behind the scenes secrets, is coming out after watching the movie and still feeling ‘meh’ about it. I have reached a point where if the 1st 2 or 3 trailers hasn’t sold me, the other 10 that come out before the movie is released won’t do it no matter what. I don’t need to be super hyped on a movie to go see it. I just need it to be good and more to the point, I just don’t need so many that it feels like they are coming off of an assembly line. As a good consumer, I know when to say when. I know how to go support other things to make myself happy and in the end, that’s all that counts.