Are superhero movies going “the way of the Western”?


During the 80’s and 90’s, the only way to watch anything with superheroes would be through television. Shows such as X-Men The Animated Series and Batman were the most popular way to watch these characters. Nowadays, superheros are taking over every form of media especially the film industry. Movies such as Avengers:Infinity War and The Dark Knight are making billions of dollars and have taken the world by storm. Though there is an increase of fans when each movie releases, there is also an increase of naysayers. Some of these naysayers are important figures in the film industry like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron.

While promoting his film Bridge of Spies, Spielberg describes the superhero genre as “going the way of the Western”. Spielberg explains that he was around when the Western genre died and explained that “there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns”. He explains that modern film studios are more worried about what will make the most money rather than what will make the best film.

Another influential director, James Cameron is tired of the superhero genre and explains that he “[hopes] we’ll start getting Avenger fatigue here pretty soon…Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on, guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”. Cameron recently came under fire for criticizing 2017’s Wonder Woman for taking a step back when it comes to female led films.

Even actors who have been in superhero films have bashed the genre publicly. Actors such as Cillian Murphy who played Scarecrow in The Dark Trilogy and Hugo Weaving who played Red Skull in Captain America:The First Avenger have expressed that they are both tired of the genre. Murphy explains that “It was a different time when we made Batman Begins”. A-list actor, Mel Gibson turned down the role of Odin in Thor and has explained that he is confused with why these movies are as popular as they are. “I look at them and scratch my head. I’m really baffled by it…” and “ If you’re spending outrageous amounts of money, $180 million or more, I don’t know how you make it back after the taxman gets you, and after you give half to the exhibitors… what did they spend on Batman V Superman that they’re admitting to? And it’s a piece of s**t”.

So are superhero movies the modern Western? It depends who you ask. Fans and studio executives will argue no. But Hollywood veterans will say otherwise. As of right now the superhero genre is safe and is here to stay for the next several years. Only time will tell if the superhero genre will fade away.

Here are the links to the individual interviews:


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