With So Many Heroes Saving The Day… Why Aren’t We Sick of it Yet?
Let’s face it. Every time you turn around, there’s another superhero movie coming out. Not all of them are fantastic, but most of them are good enough that we keep going back. We care about the characters so much that even if they fail at the box office, we will go back to the next film with hopeful eyes to see them succeed this time. But comic fans aren’t the only ones who go to these super powered blockbusters — lots of other moviegoers have fallen in love with them, too. From Nolan’s Batman to Iron Man to X-Men to Wonder Woman, the future looks pretty darn bright. Heck, DC and Marvel both have fully functional cinematic universes with releases stretching out into the distant future.
But what makes so many people keep going back again and again? What compels us to fling our wallets at the studios and demand in our loudest voices, “MORE!”? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Oh wait… nix that last one. We will quell your curiosity with a blanket statement: these movies work. Now that that’s out of the way, how about we give you the why…
Alright, this one only applies to longtime fans. The masses will have to wait. Many people grew up with these heroes. If they didn’t read the comics, they watched the tv shows (and don’t tell us one is better than the other, a fan is a fan. You can love a character through whatever media you like). What we’re getting at here is that these characters already had a built-in love that could not be denied. This makes it really easy for the studios to nod their heads in approval. Batman already had a long-standing track record (as long as we don’t look at Batman Forever), so he was the obvious starting place — but then they kept coming. The movies have to be good for hungry fans to keep attending, sure, but so far most (we’re looking at you, Fantastic Four) have been worth the watch.
The Era of the Geek
Being a geek simply isn’t taboo anymore. In fact, it’s sort of awesome! Video games are no longer a fringe thing that no one talks about. Comics are mainstream. Comic cons attract hundreds of thousands of people. Thanks to web shows like Critical Role or the podcast Adventure Zone — even Dungeons & Dragons is cool. It’s a strange and amazing new world. Once you’re out of high school, being nerdy is the way to be. This superhero revival in film matches the tone of a new age that is dawning as we speak. We say, long live the Era of the Geek!
Practical effects have their place, and when used right they can make a film feel visceral and like it’s actually happening right there in front of you. Unfortunately, they can also make a film feel cheesy. Like really cheesy. Like “a block of cheddar that was forgotten in the back of your fridge for months” cheesy. Alright, enough of that analogy. Special effects have finally caught up to our imaginations. No longer do we have to accept that a man painted green is the Hulk, or that those wires aren’t really there (just ignore the man behind the curtain). Thanks to advancements in technology, superpowers just feel that much more real. When Storm hurls lightning bolts, it looks possible. When Superman flies, he doesn’t look like he’s dangling from those pesky wires we mentioned. They actually look super–and that fills us with a sense of wonder and awe we just can’t ignore. The spectacle alone is worth the time.
Standing Up For The Little Guy
Westerns used to be the big thing in movies. Everyone went to see a cowboy stand up for the little guy and save the town from outlaws. Now? Well, cowboys aren’t popular anymore. We’ve moved on to something bigger, bolder, and better. We still want to see someone save Joe Average from danger, but…with less spurs and horses and whatnot. Superheros easily fill the void. The superhero movie takes care of the little guy. Someone steps in and stops the atrocities that are being committed and takes care of the town (with a bit of property damage, but it’s better than what was going to happen, sooo…). Good wins. Bad loses. It makes us feel heroic, and that brings us to our final point…
People Want To Be Heroes
There is so much happening in the world every day that…well, sucks. Let’s face it: things suck sometimes. We constantly hear about hate, mass shootings, painful things we wish we — or someone else — would stop. No one likes tragedy. Why wouldn’t we want to spend time with characters who have the power to stop these terrible things, and do? These heroes give us a glimmer of hope in dark times. They make us feel like things can, and will get better. We know we can’t fire lasers out of our eyes, or shapeshift, or heck, even make fireworks with our hands. What we do know, however, is that their acts fill us with the courage to stand up for others and to try to be better than we are. That’s why these movies work. They give people hope, and that’s more than enough to justify their existence.