The Justice League movie was released this weekend and it’s not doing well. The film grossed just $96 million in its domestic opening weekend. This was a film meant to kick-start the DCEU and rival the entire MCU, specifically the Avengers franchise. For context, Joss Whedon’s original Avengers opened to $207 million. It more than doubled Justice League.
We’re talking Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman here, not exactly the doldrums of the DCU. Now, there’s a number of reasons Justice League underperformed; bad marketing, a change of directors/visions, the BvS hangover, but this feels a little different.
People are tired of superheroes.
I know that might be a hot-take, but it’s true. Even I’m tired of these movies. We’ve gone too far. There are reports of a Multiple Man movie, The New Mutants have their own film coming in 2018, and Shazam has a stand-alone coming too. This isn’t a knock on those characters, but are the general public really going to be enticed by them, when they can’t even be bothered to get up and go watch the Justice League?
We’ve had 10 years of 2-3 movies a year, and people are finally saying enough is enough. From what I can tell, the genre might have just enough juice to get past Infinity War, but that’s as far as it’ll go.
It’s not just the Justice League opening that indicates this, the storylines do too.
Infinity War is the natural conclusion to the MCU. Yes, the heroes will save the universe, but Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor are coming to the end of their tenures. They can try replace them with new, fresh characters like Captain Marvel, but the reality is they just don’t have the star power to pull in the masses. At the same time, a reboot would just feel old and uninteresting.
So, with the MCU stuck between a rock and a hard place, and the DCEU woefully underperforming, it’s safe to say the era of the comic domination in Hollywood is on its last legs. Basically, the superhero bubble is about to burst and like I said, that’s a good thing.
Allow me to explain.
Marvel comics are a mess right now. They’ve just lost Bendis to DC, and the list of established names is short. They’ve been relying on lazy Event Comics that have absolutely no purpose other than to desperately try and bring readers back. Civil War II is the prime example. It’s a conflict for the sake of conflict, you never for a second think that Tony and Carol have a legitimate reason to fight. However, in the case of Civil War II, they just do.
The fact of the matter is, Marvel stopped focusing on comics a while ago, and the product has suffered. I know what you’re going to say: “But Rebirth is amazing”.
Yes, yes it is.
But look how poor DC’s onscreen product is. You can’t have it both ways. So, if movie profits start to tail off and the superhero bubble bursts, Marvel might go back to being an actual comic book company.
If comic book movies become less profitable, we might get some better ones. It’s very possible that Fox and Sony decide it’s no longer worth the hassle (as they’ve already started doing), and sell full rights back to Marvel. So the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man have full integration into the MCU that we’ve all been crying for…this might actually happen.
We might also get more character-driven stories. That is if the masses aren’t there to watch Iron Man shoot Repulsor Blasts from his hands. If this was the case, then the filmmakers might have less pressure to make these movies into all-action ones. We might start to see more Nolan trilogy-esque films. What, you think Batman’s the only character that can pull off a grounded character-driven storyline?
Lastly and most importantly
It’s a bit out there, so work with me here. If profits tank and I mean REALLY tank, Marvel and DC may consider one last hurrah. One last Over-A-Billion-Dollars hurrah. They pit Superman against Thor, Batman against Captain America, and Wonder Woman against Iron Man.
The masses get one last superhero action film. The scale of such an event would dwarf both the Avengers and Justice League movies. The execs would be happy with their payday and we get to settle some long-standing debates.
All this is very possible. So kick-back, and wait for that superhero bubble to burst.
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