All Aboard the Hero Movie Hype Train

marvvvI have been meaning to write some brief words about this whole Superhero Fever for a while, but didn’t have the time to. Tonight, I find myself with some free time, so here are some disorganized thoughts.

Marvel Studios recently put out a list detailing the release dates for upcoming superhero films. This barrage of films have been scheduled up to 2019. If one includes the upcoming DC movies, the number doubles and we see a stream of superhero movies stretching all the way to 2020 and beyond. This comes in the wake of another barrage of superhero films.

This whole superhero fever stretches back to Iron Man (2008), when the public at large suddenly fell in love with the superheroes that geek culture (whatever that means) had been familiar with for over 40 years. After Iron Man’s success, we saw Thor (2011) and Captain America (2011) and The Avengers (2012). Not wanting to fall behind, DC put out The Dark Knight trilogy (2005 – 2012) and Man of Steel (2013). All these movies have been wildly successful, and just this summer we were given the record breaking Guardians of the Galaxy (2013), which broke records for Marvel movie with the most weeks at # 1 and as the top August debut in North America. And next up we have Big Hero 6, opening tomorrow, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant Man, Captain America: The Fallen Son, Doctor Strange, World War Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy: War of the Rings, a Fantastic Four movie, a Deadpool movie, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men: Apocalypse, and many many others. So why aren’t people getting tired?

superhero-movie-timeline-large-thumb-1000x1250-28968I think that what makes these movies work and the reason why people are not suffering from “superhero exhaustion” is because these films are not solely “superhero movies”. Each movie is a superhero movie, but it’s also something else. Thor was high(ish) fantasy mixed with superhero fare. Guardians of the Galaxy was straight up futuristic science fiction comedy. Captain America: The First Avenger was as much a superhero movie as it was a patriotic war movie. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier played on spy tropes and action sequences. The Avengers was straight up traditional superhero fare.

By giving each movie its own unique flavor and not focusing every movie on the superhero-ness of the superheroes, the studios keep the concept of the superhero movie fresh. What will come in the future? Will Aquaman be a contemporary global warming-themed politically charged piece? Will Black Panther follow a Jason Bournesque plotline while Ant Man takes the shape of a science thriller? Will Hulk be a misunderstood monster movie, or will it be a “OMG THE HULK IS RAMPAGING RUN” kind of thing?

Who knows?

I know that I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store (although, if I’m being honest, I’m more curious to see what narrative tricks they pull off as far as franchise storytelling and crossovers rather than about the movies themselves).

All aboard the hype train.



About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on November 7, 2014, in Film Commentary, Media Commentary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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