Superhero stories are like the modern equivalent of Greek myths. Fantastical, inspiring and timeless – so why does it seem like people are sick of them?
There’s been an explosion in mainstream superhero media in the 21st century. Though, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when superheroes as we know them now began to hit their stride. They’ve been around for a long time, of course, but I’m mainly referring to the big blockbuster style of superhero ala ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) or ‘The Dark Knight.’
I feel as if some may argue that the “modern-day superhero fatigue” started sometime near the end of the pandemic, maybe even earlier after the monumental cinematic hits ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ but that’s not what I had in mind.
The fatigue I’m thinking about isn’t tied entirely to success and many people go to see superhero movies or whatever, but I mean fatigue with the types of stories being told. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, I’m getting a bit fatigued with the quippy “MCU” dialogue and the whole “interconnected universe and/or extended universe” shtick. It’s just a bit predictable I suppose.
It’s why movies like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,’ ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,’ and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ are so refreshing. They take established superhero properties and twist them in ways that seem to not only respect the source material but add a fresh element that makes them stand out from their predecessors.
Reinvention is often a bit of a touchy subject. I mean, I’ve had my fair share of digs and taken my fair share of jabs at reboots, but when all is said and done, if these ongoing properties want to remain as that – ongoing – then shaking things up for the sake of reaching new audiences is usually a must. Retreading old ground can only take you so far, but I think it’s important to still find balance in maintaining the sanctity of the brand, superhero or otherwise.
Like, if a new Batman movie is made and he’s running around committing “Bat-Homicide” and “Bat-Arson,” then yeah, that’d be not very great – at all.
I feel trying to step outside of what audiences know and subverting expectations while also staying in line with the essence of the thing in question is a good way to avoid the dreaded superhero fatigue. Give people stories that challenge their perception of these icons while staying true to what the icons represent.
Let’s aim for more Spider-Verses and Mutant Mayhems and less of whatever the heck ‘The Flash’ was is basically all I’m saying.