Renegade Rant: The Superhero Movie ‘Fad’

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Let’s talk superhero movies.

There is something I keep hearing, and have been hearing for about a decade now. People keep asking when the superhero movie fad will end. This is a question that I can’t figure out the reasoning behind.

Do people ask when the comedy fad will end? Do people ask when the horror fad will end? I guess maybe people think that the superhero movies will go the way of the slasher film, but there is a problem with that.

Comic books have been popular since the ’60s when people fell in love with Spider-Man and Batman and Superman. If people can still love seeing James Bond movies after five decades of the franchise, what makes you think people will get tired of various superheroes after 15 years?

Plus, what people don’t understand is that superhero movies are NOT a genre.

The Avengers is an action movie. Thor was a fantasy movie. Blade was a horror movie. Just because the movies have people with special powers does not make superhero movies a genre. John Carter wasn’t a superhero movie and he had extraordinary powers. How is Sherlock Holmes that much different from Chris Nolan’s Batman?

And it is not a “fad” that is going to end soon.

Trust me, I waited over 30 years to finally see The Avengers on the big screen. I waited almost 20 to see Spider-Man up there. The fact that I got those movies makes me happier than you could ever believe. There is something about superheroes that is attractive to people.

These are morality tales, much like horror movies or the mystery genre. Gangster movies originated in the early silent era of films and kept going through the ’30s with Public Enemies, the ’70s with The Godfather and the ’90s with Goodfellas. We may not get as many gangster movies now, but they are still popular. Look at the TV show Boardwalk Empire. There is something people love about those movies. It is the same with horror flicks and mystery movies. Even westerns still live today.

Why are superhero movies a fad?

When I was considering changing my Alternate Takes column over at 411mania.com into a column about comic book movies, someone sarcastically said that I would run out of movies to talk about pretty quickly. I just shook my head.

Before Spider-Man and The X-Men and Blade changed how people looked at comic book movies, Tim Burton’s Batman changed the outlook on them a decade before. Superman hit theaters a decade before that in 1979. The Batman TV show was on in the ’60s. Superman was in serialized format in the ’50s. Hell, The Lone Ranger is a relative of The Green Hornet, and he existed pre-television. In the ’40s, there were movie serials based on Captain Marvel, The Phantom and Captain America.

So, after 70 years, when is this superhero movie fad going to end?

Give me a break.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
  • Lisa Stover

    I wouldn’t want these movies to end! I’ve seen all mentioned here and will continue to see them as well.

  • Addison Ong

    I think when people ask that question, they are referring to the most recent craze of superhero films that have been thrown at us in nearly the past FIFTEEN years… as you stated, pretty much starting with X-men (I don’t feel Blade really counts as part of this new obsession) X-men really started it, and Spiderman confirmed it…
    Since then, there has been 28 Marvel films made (10 more set to be released in the next two years) and almost 20 more from DC Comics or others! And before X-men (dating all the way back to the 60s), there was less than 20 from both Marvel and DC COMBINED!!!
    Yeah… there’s definitely a new fad happening.

    • Interestingly, this also means that kids under 15 never lived in a world without a constant flow of superhero movies, and there are not any under – say – 20 who remember a time without them. When does a “fad” become the norm?

  • Aidan Myles Green

    Awesome article. Great read. And points for the BLADE shoutout (I have that poster in my entertainment room at home)!

    • Thanks! People point at X-Men as the movie that kickstarted the craze, but I really think Blade (and more importantly Blakde II) proved that it could work.

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