Superhero movies were once thought of as endless action sequences where the good guy pummels the bad guy. However, with the rise of franchises such as Marvel and DC, audiences have also matured to become pickier about the movies they watch. But, this doesn't mean that audiences have become immune to superhero fatigue.
Superhero fatigue is a term one will often hear these days when movies based on comic book characters don’t do well at the box office. Some say there are just too many superhero movies that audiences get tired of having to see each one.
The debate has once again come up to the surface as superhero movies like Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and DC’s Shazam: Fury of the Gods struggled at the box office. Even the heavily hyped Black Adam movie starring Dwayne Johnson flopped, questioning the long-term prospects of superhero movies.
Is superhero fatigue real? Well, DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn thinks that it is a thing but it also isn’t a thing.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, Gunn shared his thoughts on superhero fatigue. He believes that viewers get bored of movies that have shallow plots and rely on over-the-top action sequences.
"I think there is such a thing as superhero fatigue," Gunn said. "I think it doesn’t have anything to do with superheroes."
He adds, "It has to do with the kind of stories that get to be told, and if you lose your eye on the ball, which is character. We love Superman. We love Batman. We love Iron Man. Because they’re these incredible characters that we have in our hearts."
According to the long-time MCU director, the key is pushing the stories of characters to the forefront instead of using them as tools for massive action set pieces.
"If it becomes just a bunch of nonsense onscreen, it gets really boring," Gunn continued. "But I get fatigued by most spectacle films, by the grind of not having an emotionally grounded story. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether they’re superhero movies or not."
"If you don’t have a story at the base of it, just watching things bash each other, no matter how clever those bashing moments are, no matter how clever the designs and the VFX are, it just gets fatiguing, and I think that’s very, very real."
Experts are still divided on the subject of superhero fatigue. However, Marvel and DC believe in the box office returns more than anything else. Both studios have recently adjusted their approach to the content they put out, with Marvel focusing on quality. The studio has even delayed some of its upcoming TV shows and movies, effectively extending the Multiverse Saga by several months if not a year or more.
On the flips ide, DC has also started to reboot its portfolio of superhero characters. DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran recently unveiled Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters for the DC Universe, essentially reworking the entirety of the franchise.
Will we ever see the end of superhero movies? We think that as long as there are good stories to tell, people will come to watch movies.