It Seems Like Non-traditional Superhero Movies Never Come Out On Time
Doesn’t it seem like, when it comes to superhero movies, unless it perfectly fits into the standard formula it gets pushed back? We’re talking Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and, most recently, The New Mutants. Now, we have to give credit where it’s due. DC hasn’t fallen into this trap — they released Wonder Woman early (she was so awesome, she kicked her date up six weeks), but Marvel has a bit of an issue with… well, shoving them back.
We love a traditional superhero movie. They make us feel heroic when times are tough. They give us a sense of wonder and daring that really excites us. They send our inner fan into a squealing happy mess. However, we’ve been watching the same basic fight unfold for 20 years, and it’s really disappointing to see the less traditional heroes keep getting sidelined for other, more traditional stories.
Looking back, it seems ludicrous that Marvel bumped back Black Panther for Spider-man: Homecoming. Spider-man: Homecoming made an impressive $880 million in box office cash, but Black Panther made him look like a bug by raking in $1.28 billion (so far), nearly one and a half times Spidey’s box office take. Spider-man is one of Marvel’s biggest properties (and the biggest in toy sales), so it’s not altogether surprising they made that judgement call — but Marvel didn’t stop there.
Captain Marvel is a great example of a movie that just keeps getting bumped. First to accommodate Spider-man: Homecoming, and then again to fit in an Ant-Man sequel. Fans of Carol Danvers are notably annoyed. In Ant-Man and The Wasp, Wasp takes the role of the first female-led Marvel movie out of the hands of Danvers — and she has to share the spotlight! Captain Marvel will be the first female standalone superhero movie from the Marvel franchise in 20 years, and it keeps getting pushed down the line like that kid no one ever picks for dodgeball.
Most recently, it’s happened to The New Mutants. This was a little different, however, and we have a bit more sympathy for this case. The powers that be decided that the movie wasn’t bold enough, so they postponed it to bring out more of the horror aspect and make it better fit the comics. Test audiences found it too bland, so they are punching it up. Still it begs the question: why didn’t they go big in the first place? Were the producers scared that it would impact their sales? Or that this lesser known set of mutants wouldn’t draw a crowd if it actually scared people? We are stoked for a horror-based hero movie. It will be the first of its kind in the current canon, and that’s something to scream about.
Yet it seems to be a trend that Marvel pushes back anything that doesn’t follow the traditional “superhero saving the world from the enemy” plot. The public has responded negatively to each one of these release date pushes, so you’d think Marvel would get the hint that perhaps fans really want these other stories. So why do they keep pushing them back?
There seems to be a fear from the heads at Marvel that these movies won’t do as well as their more traditional counterparts and they might (GASP!) lose money. Yet we haven’t seen that play out on any stage — with any company. Deadpool was rated R, something companies thought would be the kiss of death to a superhero movie, and became the highest grossing R-rated movie ever. EVER. Wonder Woman, the first female-led superhero movie by either major production company in the current cannon, made $200 million more than Justice League (we could talk about the reasons why, but that’s a discussion for another time). Black Panther just made it onto the list of top ten highest grossing movies of all time. So why all the fear? Time and time again, fans have proven that their fears are unfounded.
So why do they keep getting pushed back?
We think the answer is simple. A traditional superhero movies is “safe.” We’ve seen the story unfold so many times that it feels comfortable. People know what to expect when they go to see a Marvel movie. If the script changes, it could spell disaster or bad reviews for a company who spends hundreds of millions to make one film.
The thing is, that fear is holding studios back. Every non-traditional hero movie has been met with huge success. Let’s face it, we’ve been seeing the same stuff over and over for 20 years. It’s about time for a fresh take on the hero game. Wonder Woman gave us a fresh perspective and proved that you don’t need a male led movie to break the box office. Black Panther showed you don’t need a predominantly white cast to break records. People want these stories. People are craving something fresh. We want a perspective we haven’t seen before – a story that we haven’t heard before.
We’re ready for more Black Panthers, more Wonder Women, and more Deadpools. It’s time for the big studios to get out of the rut of the traditional and explore what else is out there. If they keep feeding us the same stories, eventually our appetites for saving the world might wane.
And as comic fans, we never want that to happen.