Spoilers might make a cameo.
I’m bringing the old Weekly Rant feature back, where I pick a topic for something that I can’t just get out of my mind until I put words to paper and just see where it goes. Figuratively. I am not going to go through the history of superheroes on film going from the early attempts to how they became mainstream. I’m starting now where the subgenre is now mainstream and a money-making machine. I don’t hate it. I just think the market is saturated making it overexposed and weakening it. This is just my personal opinion and commentary, not fact.
The typical superhero film bears the typical beats of the hero journey and coming-of-age story. With a few notable variations, it portrays some sort of humble beginnings. Sometimes these are humbling beginnings where a character is living some very entitled life and suffers a life-changing tragedy or endures major strife and grows a conscience. Anyhow, either with great powers or incredible genius they become more than they were and get the resolve to fight injustice. It’s often subversion of the genre revenge film simmered down to a more sanctioned and sanitized justice goal (or, you know, actual revenge).
There are subversions of the standard plot that provide a fresh perspective. Unfortunately mainframe franchises sometimes rely on other contrivances. One of the most common is to insert comic book references or cameos from other properties to promote another film. In the best scenarios, this is a nod to the old school hardcore fandom. In the worst, it’s a foreshadowing for another movie, or series of movies that end up diluting the importance of the film you’re already watching and turning it into an ad.
Yes, sometimes along comes a superhero film and does things differently. But there are always constraints that remain due to the nature of the franchise. That box becomes more visible the more features come out and it’s no secret there’s a lot of these films out there. With all the beats known and any end-of-the-world stakes becoming just background noise to promotion scenes trying to drum up hype for another film, it just feels like I’m watching an endless loop.
My reaction has been to take in different films so you might have noticed a distinct horror trend lately. That might be a bit of an overcompensation, but horror is one of those genres that you know that someone will die for sure and therefore the stakes are high. I might come back to the superhero genre when it inevitably starts to change – hopefully enough to peak my interest. In the meantime, it’s a good time as any to see what else is out there.
That will do for now.