So, I just saw a bunch of trailers for new movies coming out. Batman vs Superman, Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad. And in every one of these, we see some flashes of people in costumes, and the whole internet goes nuts. People start namedropping: OMG it’s Black Panther, OMG it’s Doomsday. And I have just no idea who any of these characters are, but the trailer suggests that we should remember or recognize them.
This whole superhero trend is now officially losing me. It went from exciting movies about basic characters whom most people were familiar with, such as Batman, Superman and Spiderman, to ensemble movies that try to cram as much characters and lore into it as possible. It starts to remind me of Dragon Ball Z. Every time, there is a bigger enemy. And then a different hero shows up, and the world is halfway destroyed. And then an even bigger bad guy shows up. And so it goes on and on.
I just don’t care anymore. A character isn’t epic because it carries a certain name. A movie isn’t epic because it shoves in characters with names that are supposed to carry epic storytelling with them. Epic storytelling rests on our emotional involvement, and that involvement is generated and safeguarded through good plotting and character development. An obscure superhero name does not provide a shortcut to that feeling.
Remember, the name Anakin Skywalker does not guarantee a good movie. Neither does the name James Bond. If some doofus in a leather suit shows up in a Superman movie and is called Captain Awesome, that doesn’t make him awesome. Show us that we should care. Show us WHY we should be excited. Avengers: Age of Ultron already made these mistakes and hence lost me a bit. The trailer built up this Ultron villain as if he was the baddest bad guy and that I should care about it. Then, the movie shows a wisecracking robot who got his ass kicked and that was that. More like the week of Ultron. The name Ultron didn’t have any connotations for me, it didn’t mean anything, and after seeing the movie, it still doesn’t.
And then another weird red guy shows up who shoots a laser from his forehead. I’ve no idea who that was (later, I learned he was named The Vision) and frankly, I felt a bit of secondhand embarrassment for some of the older folks in the theatre who were lured to the movies with the prospect of seeing a nice action movie. Creating superheroes a dime a dozen does not equal good storytelling, but is more like a childish power fantasy.
More is less, and less is more. The more superhero characters are shoved into these movies, the more they start catering to a smaller and smaller audience. The next few years will see an overload of superheroes, with diminishing returns for the production companies. Many people will burn out, lose interest, and a smaller and smaller group of aficionados will be excited about some obscure Heroman of the 11th Dimension. This process has already started this year.