Steven Spielberg said superhero movies were coming to an end.
that’s not exactly true. That’s pretty much just how web sites
and media promoted the story to increase attention and maximize
a longer quote from Spielberg (taken from an Associate Press interview,
and the whole thing is worth a read (but no longer
available) ): “We were around when the Western died and
there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of
the Western. It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where
the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns.
Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving.
I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular
examining things with a bit more depth, we find the Spielberg
is actually making a statement that is more about the industry
overall as well as source material in particular. To sum up both
ideas… where are people spending their money? When something is
popular, it gets overdone. And often overdone can be seen in viewing
themes and subject material.
there, in the heart of his statement, Spielberg is nailing things
in general has a massive problem with originality… whether for
motion pictures and the big screen, or, for television in our
a good one… it doesn’t involve the characters of Iron Man and
Batman, and it actually spans more than twenty years… you could
probably build a strong foundation comparing Friends
to That ‘70s Show to The Big Bang Theory and
concludes they are very similar. (Watch… groups of young friends,
hanging out, and occasionally having romantic interactions… see?)
Spielberg… and in a wider exploration of the industry, just replace
the concept of superheroes with wizards, vampires or zombies and
a ton of clarity shifts into focus.
up -- These superhero movies are making massive dollars, and that
has the attention of every studio’s leadership. In fact, if you
check the box office numbers, you’ll see that even the films being
considered disappointments have racked up hundreds upon hundreds
of millions of dollars.
entertainment industry likes dollars. And… as seen throughout
the entire tent pole shift, where companies are investing $200
million on one massive project instead of dividing it up into
budgets for five to ten smaller films… they also like maximum
returns on minimum investments.
might contend this may be a significant reason so much incredible
writing and production has appeared on television screens in recent
years. The idea being where the creativity and talent has moved
since it is being shut out of movie projects as fewer pictures
get green lights or decent budgets. But that would be a totally
different article, needing different thoughts and research. Instead…
industry moves quite often by senior officials saying that if
the audiences are spending on wizards, vampires and zombies, then
get they want more scripts with wizards, vampires and zombies.
-- Well… you can’t have nothing but wizards, vampires and zombies,
because the reality is, you need to have stories to tell. And
if the market is getting saturated, then the results are going
to be diluted and not nearly as impressive.
combine the two… and presto… Spielberg’s comments are a very easy
prediction to make. Because eventually the quality stories could
dry up, and the ticket buying public will move along to a new
out the efforts around the Fantastic Four… any of the Fantastic
Four movies you want to use… and it’s hard to argue the point.
thing is… I think Spielberg is missing something, and something
important. And that is, the comparison between Westerns and superhero
films doesn’t match up nicely. Superhero movies are easier to
modernize and manipulate into current news and technologies. Westerns
are not. As long as studios can figure out how to create fresh
stories, search through and utilize historical source material,
and deliver quality productions, I’m not so certain fatigue is
going to matter. (Oh sure… fatigue will be there… but again, it
might not matter.)
four decades ago, we were told “You’ll believe a man can fly!”
as Christopher Reeve broke the ground for what might be considered
the superhero age that still exists today. And I say that because…
believing a man can fly… studio special effects went through breathtaking
upgrades and phenomenal advancements in the 70s. That’s when it
began becoming possible to tell these stories. (You know… tell
them without having to tilt a building wall on its side while
adjusting the cameras to give the illusion of walking up it. (Say
hello to Industrial Light and Magic! Not truly superhero films
as a company, but setting and advancing the industry to new levels.))
ever since then… including Batman with Keaton and Nicholson…
those early days and steady development has been moving to the
films of the past ten to fifteen years.
point is… technology is improving to tell these stories… and the
central elements of these stories are not tied down to specific
periods of time. When you think Western, you get the guns, horses
and dirt roads… cowboy hats and saloons… and so on. Not so for
don’t expect movies like The Imitation Game, Birdman:
Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Avengers,
and more to be the same. They are different, and they all have
value. Some movies are based on amazing source materials, some
create new ways of bringing scripts to the screen, some movies
are just outright fun… and none of that is more or less important
in the overall scheme of things. At different times we all want
movies to lift us up, inform, or just take us away and entertain.
Sometimes all and more… sometimes just because we want to laugh.
Steven Spielberg is saying that Hollywood is a fickle business
model… filled with copycats… where recipes for success more often
than not develop from great ideas and then the industry looks
for the next great idea… then he certainly has a point.
said… I don’t see where an industry that is improving in its ability
to deliver superhuman accomplishments and incredible settings
has to disappear as a cyclical fad. It comes down to story… the
foundation… the base material. And with decades of adventures
on the pages of comic books to draw from… a built in audience
of ravenous fans… I don’t think the question is whether or not
superhero films will move to the side.