Steven Spielberg, acclaimed by many as the greatest director of our time, apparently isn’t as big a fan of superhero movies as most. In a recent interview relayed by Entertainment Weekly, the man responsible for iconic hits like Jaws and Jurassic Park effectively said that current age of the superhero movie is nothing more than a passing fad destined to go away of the Western. Which is to say, it’s a niche genre without much staying power.
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“There will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western,” Spielberg explained. “Right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.”
It’s an interesting point of view, but one likely to arouse the ire of fans who, if box office sales are any indication, simply can’t get enough of superhero flicks, whether they be original productions or complete series reboots a’la Batman.
In the meantime, we still have a ways to go before superhero movies hit a decline. Just looking ahead to the first five months of 2016, there are three bona-fide superhero blockbuster movies waiting in the wings: Batman v Suuperman: Dawn of Justice set for a March 25 release, Captain America: Civl War set for a May 6 release, and X-Men: Apocalypse set for a May 27 release.
Also, as many have pointed out in response to Spielberg’s comments, the ole’ Western genre is making something of a comeback (sort of), what with the upcoming releases of Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six, Tarantino’s Hateful Eight, and the star-studded The Magnificent Seven.
Taking a step back, Spieblerg’s comments do open up the door to an interesting debate: Are superhero movies really living on borrowed time?
The comment thread on this topic on Cinema Blend is particularly interesting and worth checking out.
One commenter makes a case that it’s only inevitable that the superhero craze will eventually die down.
And while I don’t believe that the industry is facing a “Superhero Fatigue,” as has been discussed in certain corners, I do think that like the Western, we’ll eventually see a decrease in the number of superhero films that are generated by the studio system in a decade, after numerous storylines have been explored and primary characters have played out their run. There are only so many times you can reboot the likes of Spider-Man, Batman and the X-Men before the general assembly moves on to the next shiny bauble.
Others, meanwhile, make a compelling case that the superhero genre is so rich, with so much new territory yet to be explored, that we’re a long ways from seeing these types of movies going anywhere anytime soon. Additionally, with superhero flicks being able to transcend genres — from action to drama and even comedy — some take the point of view that such movies have a lot more staying power than people might appreciate.
The Wolverine felt like a Samurai film. Captain America The First Avenger was a war movie, Thor felt medieval. Guardians was Star Wars for comics. I do believe Spielberg’s a bit sour (although he is indeed filthy rich) that superhero films are box office hits in this time and he has yet to put his hand on it. He’s missing the point that there’s no such thing as “superhero genre” because I’m sure Guardians of the Galaxy and The Dark Knight don’t fit in the same genre.
What say you, gentle readers? Is Spielberg onto something or, as some have suggested, is he just a bit bitter?