Why superhero movies are so popular

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Why are we going to the movies? What do we want with two hours spent in a room with a screen and a (hopefully) comfortable chair?

The answer is never just one thing, it is often a series of opposing impulses. We want to entrench justice, but we don’t want our morals to be too simple and watered down. We want action and spectacle, but we also want well-developed characters and interpersonal drama. We want to feel immersed, challenged, experience some serious, raw, and potentially heartbreaking emotions, but ultimately come out of the theater feeling better than when we entered it. It’s hard to meet those criteria, but if a cinematic experience manages to hit all those buttons, you’re probably watching a superhero movie. It’s hard to deny that we are currently living in a golden age of superhero cinema (although some might call it a contradiction in terms), mainly due to the unique multiverse that connects the films. This universe has been skillfully constructed through a combination of tight writing, careful planning, and unbelievably huge budgets, with the result that the quantity and the overall quality of hero media is certainly at an all time high.

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Related: Best Non Marvel Or DC Superhero Movies Ranked

Everything is connected

Marvel Studios isn’t the only group in Hollywood making great superhero movies, but they are do a lot, and they’re apparently really, really good, if the box office numbers and critical acclaim are any indication. They have 31 projects in development as of September 2021, two of their films were the highest grossing that year and just one of their films grossed $ 2.8 billion. Obviously, they are doing something right.

The appeal and success of these films today is the same as their print predecessors for a similar reason: interconnection. The “Marvel Comics” era began in the early 1960s and has grown steadily since. A bunch of episodic stories about brightly dressed benefactors have managed to grow and gain popularity for decades, in large part thanks to fans’ appreciation for the variety and scale of their shared universe, where different characters have mingled in a surprising way. This also goes for DC comics.




The Avengers' superhero cast stand among the wreckage
Walt Disney Studios Cinema

You might be halfway to a Spider Man comedic, when suddenly Thor comes in charge as he climbs onto the Hulk’s shoulders, helping to fight Doc Ock or whoever is messing around in New York that week. It was unexpected, and it was awesome. Whenever an obscure hero or villain entered the fray, like Big Bertha (You’re welcome), a little Stan Lee cartoon would appear that said, “Readers will remember Big Bertha from.” West Coast Avengers, Vol II, Issue 46”And everything was fine. This technique is much more difficult to achieve with big budget action movies; this is obvious, because it is extremely difficult to create a large cinematic universe. Films must be both autonomous and hyper-connected entrances. The plot threads must jump between the stories while remaining consistent. Robert Downey Jr. would need to clear his schedule for about eleven years. It’s hard! But that’s how they did it.


Join the dots

In the early 2000s, Marvel was teaming up with all kinds of studios and distribution companies to make stand-alone movies based on comic book characters, which went… interesting. There was no specific locus of creative control. that of Sam Raimi Spider Man the movies were great, but Sony owned the rights to the character, preventing any kind of crossover success. The X Men the movies were cool, but Fox owned these guys the same way. During this time, Fantastic Four was boring and twisted, Ben Afflek did a horrible daredevil, and there were several very questionable Hulks running around. It was a mess. It was then that Avi Arad, the head of Marvel’s film division, formed the specialist independent film studio, Marvel Studios. Thus, creative control has been acquired.


Creative control was the key to creating a truly successful cinematic universe by ensuring that the same teams of writers, directors, producers and continuity supervisors (an underrated role) was involved in the creation and distribution of every movie in the MCU. Kevin Feige, Arad’s second-in-command, pitched the hugely ambitious idea of ​​gradually introducing the audience to the core members of the Avengers, along with Nick Fury and the looming shadow of SHIELD, and then bringing them all together for the greater. and the meanest team. film in the history of superheroes. Arad had doubts. He resigned less than a year and Feige took over as head of the studio. He immediately hired a dedicated committee of six senior executives who were knowledgeable about Marvel comics. The committee included Joe Quesada, Marvel Creative Director, and Alan Fine, the president of Marvel Entertainment. It was top notch stuff. Their job was to make sure the next wave of Marvel movies weave together wonderfully, stay true to the comics, and capture the essence of their most iconic characters.




The Falcon and Captain America chat in Winter Soldier
Walt Disney Studios Cinema

In four glorious years, Marvel Studios debuted punk rock Iron Man, Boy Next Door Captain America, the lovable distraught Thor (overshadowed by his even more lovable brother, Loki), and The Hulk (ne don’t worry if he turns into Mark Ruffalo later). The original stand-alone films were brilliant and unique, but they exuded a sense of tonal and visual cohesion. Ignore Hulk, they also all featured Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury as he browsed the ‘Mighty People’ collection. to assemble some sort of Earth Defense Force. He keeps talking about something called the “Avenger Initiative”. Everyone knew what was to come – comic fans let their non-comic friends know, those friends let everyone know, and we were all set for the superhero genre to be wide open, which is. exactly what happened.


Boom, this is it

Boom, indeed. The Avengers was amazing, with so much to love for die-hard fans while still being accessible to new viewers. It was both witty and dramatic, and it once again introduced us to each hero with a very special new ingredient: chemistry.. Bruce Banner ultimately showed us that other people can rival Tony Stark in terms of intelligence and skill, but Bruce lacked Stark’s arrogance and narcissism, forcing Tony to re-evaluate his chronic nerve. Steve Rogers was a role model of justice, deeply committed to one fundamental rule (“being a good person”), which created extremely watchable and nuanced frictions against the somewhat ambiguous morality of Stark and even SHIELD. wanted to see, and for good reason. They were familiar and their jokes were fun at sitcom level, but they were also stronger as a team than as an individual, which allowed the bad guys and the stakes to get a lot bigger and higher.


Related: Avengers: Endgame Is The Best Superhero Movie Of All Time According To New Study

From that point on, a new precedent was set. The MCU flourished from that first crossover, and the films that followed were able to be more varied and stylized without breaking the continuity of their shared universe, both crucial to longevity. Launching the universe worked, with mainstream audiences even accepting sometimes weird premises, and the films met casual viewers halfway through always re-explaining some key details or reintroducing lesser-known characters. Plus, even more exciting talent has been added to Marvel’s behind-the-camera roster, leading to more variety and perspective. Winter soldier was sincere, complex and even a little dark thanks to the Russo brothers. Meanwhile, comedy mavericks like Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish wrote the hilarious The ant Man debut, and Oscar-winning comic Taika Waititi brought charm and his own eerie spirit to Thor: Ragnarok. The MCU had a lot to offer, and if your taste was a little more gritty, DC was in the next theater with a heart-wrenching Batman trilogy.




Iron Man and Thor prepare for battle in the Avengers: Age of Ultron
Walt Disney Studios Cinema

The spice of life

This sense of connectedness is just one of 80 reasons why superhero movies are so popular today, but it’s an absolutely important reason. These films are exciting and fun for any audience, but the Extended Universe adds layers of complexity for those who want it, along with sweet anticipation for those who can’t wait to see who comes through next. Delving deep into Marvel’s web of interrelated stories and their many details is one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences any viewer can have. Nowadays, just over 10 years since that first badass crossover, the wealth of credentials, Easter eggs, and background detail in any superhero game is truly delicious for most fans. However, even for the uninitiated, the lineup of standalone films still in theaters are bound to have something for everyone, especially as Marvel continues to aim for a more cultural representation. They use the versatile ‘superhero movie’ premise to tell stories that, while far-reaching, also explore and celebrate different cultures and traditions, while also finding plenty of brilliant people of color to play and create them.


Perhaps this versatility is the real key to the success of superhero movies today. Whatever the concept of a film, whatever the scale of a fiction, great art reflects us and our reality. Superhero stories are always human at heart. The epic stakes and fantasy storylines give us the spectacle and the action, while the people behind the masks are true three-dimensional characters we connect with, sympathize with, and fall in love with. While we’ll never jump mountains like Black Panther, or shattering alien armies like Captain America, we can relate to T’Challa’s grief for his father and desire to keep his sister close and safe, or relate to Steve Rogers’ feelings of alienation from -visit of the unknown world and mad about technology that surrounds it. That’s the beauty of the superhero movie – epic setting, but grounded story, which should be the mantra of any good superhero movie, Marvel or not.



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