I've always been a big fan of going to the movies. Sitting down with family or friends, popcorn in hand, ready to watch a new story play out on a big screen. I still remember the excitement I felt going to see the Power Rangers movie with my best friend (chaperoned by his grandmother), only to have those hopes dashed when she instead bought us tickets to see Money Train. Awful woman.
With movies like Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles and Batman, we occasionally got a taste of the nerdy on the big screen. More often than not, it was a campy mess, but I loved them all. It was a rare and welcome treat.
Then one day, I settled in to watch the first X-men movie. I know X-men movies have a bad rap, but come on! That first movie was incredible! It was revolutionary! It brought with it the promise of superhero films with depth and skill and gravitas. It was still campy but people were taking the camp seriously! Really and above all else, it brought me the same feeling I had reading my first X-men comic as a kid.
And then they kept going! Every new movie that came out seemed to bring with it renewed excitement. Chris Nolan's Dark Knight had best picture Oscar buzz around it. The Marvel cinematic universe began with Iron Man, which to me is still rock solid, and then got better and better. How could one not sit in slack-jawed wonder in the face of DC and Marvel movies planned well into 2020!!?
Actually, can I admit something to you, while we're alone? Sometimes I look at the veritable smorgasbord of superhero movies coming out and I have to admit, I'm starting to feel full.
When I watch Civil-War, or Ant-Man, or the newest Avengers movie, as much as I enjoy them, they've also started to feel pretty similar on a very basic level. They all have common themes. No one trusts their teammates. The world doesn't like superheroes. The villain is a big portal, sky-beam thingy and/or monster of our own creation. The formula obviously works. And some of the movies aren't even good. Like at all. I'm looking at your Bat v Supes and Suicide Squad and Thor 2. Oh and Green Lantern too. Ew.
And you can see it on social media and review boards. Deadpool, which was fun but not particularly exemplary, got the Internet overflowing with joy because it was different. Take out the dirty language, 4th wall breaking humour and R-rated violence (take Deadpool out of Deadpool you say?) and you're still left with the basic familiar revenge plot from so many films.
Even die-hard fans are feeling the superhero fatigue, faced with an ever expanding universe for both Marvel and DC. Hell, you even have multiple universes for each one, that don't always intermingle. So now I have to keep track of what's happening in comics, movies and on TV. It can get a little overwhelming.
So what to do? Stop watching them? Realistically voting with your dollar is the only method that works if you want to see change in Hollywood. But I don't think that will work here.
The problem for many I think is that we're invested. We need to know what happens next, after sinking so many hours, and let's face it, hundreds of dollars into movie tickets and Blu-rays. And movie snacks, those prices are outrageous.
And the film studios are invested. They have movies and story-lines lined up for basically forever. The train's off the tracks and there's no stopping it now. Despite a couple flops, I don't think anyone, least of all me, is battering down their door to get them to stop making movies. I'll still be there opening weekend to see the newest instalment. So if we can't influence Hollywood's movie making process, I guess we can only manage our own expectations.
From time to time, I look back to the comic movies of my childhood and watch them again. Some of them still hold up and come with a good dose of nostalgia to boot. But many of them are filled with bad effects for the time, bad writing (see ICE to meet you for reference), and just not up to par with what we expect from a modern superhero movie.
Ultimately, whatever fatigue we feel in the face of a seemingly never ending slew of superhero antics should be mitigated by optimism and hope. Optimism in that movies are being made for us, the nerd crowd. Movies are being made for our interests and people are trying to get them right. Hope in that the people making these movies want to make good movies and will continue to try and bring excellent stories, with well written characters. If we get a stinker from time to time, we are lucky that almost just as often, we get an unexpected gem that surprises us, mixes up the genre and sets the trend for movies to follow.