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Tuesday, January 31, 2023 

What Kevin Feige doesn't get about superhero fatigue at the movie theaters

The Escapist addressed a recent podcast interview where Marvel film producer Feige dodged a query about whether the audience is tiring of superhero movies, but while he may not understand why the franchise's success is waning, the magazine may not either:
Appearing on The Movie Business Podcast, the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, was asked directly whether he thought that audiences would ever tire of superhero film and television. “I didn’t really understand the question,” Feige responded. “Because to me, it was akin to saying after Gone with the Wind, ‘Well, how many more movies can be made off of novels? Do you think the audience will sour on movies being adapted from books?’”

Feige pressed his argument, “You would never ask that because there’s an inherent understanding among most people that a book can be anything. A novel can have any type of story whatsoever.” In a very literal and technical sense, Feige is correct. There is an incredible diversity within comic books as a medium, from the work of legends like Will Eisner and Jean Giraud to the thriving indie scene or even international markets like Japanese manga, which aggressively outsells American comics.

However, there’s also a sense in which Feige’s response avoids the question that is actually being asked. Feige is right that Hollywood is still adapting novels. In fact, the success of something like All Quiet on the Western Front among this year’s Oscar nominees demonstrates that filmmakers are still readapting the same novels to great success.

So it’s worth defining the idea of “superhero fatigue,” because discussions over the concept tend towards insistent absolutes. Most obviously, the argument isn’t that superhero movies will suddenly cease to exist, to the point that future audiences will have no idea what a superhero is. That isn’t how media and storytelling works. Hollywood still makes movies in black and white, like Mank. Indeed, there are still occasionally silent movies, like The Artist.
The above doesn't even begin to scratch the surface why the recent Marvel adaptations haven't done well. It's because they've become increasingly woke, injecting all these PC ingredients like LGBT ideology that've only taken away flavor, and the actors themselves aren't very interesting, if we take Brie Larson as an example. And sex/romance has been largely jettisoned, too, something a veteran filmmaker once pointed out regarding major movies in general. Yet the writer says:
This is what Feige’s answer to that question misses. For these genres to sustain themselves across decades, they need to demonstrate an ability to adapt and shift. After all, Feige’s comparison to adaptations of novels is disingenuous. Hollywood adapts a wide variety of books into a wide variety of films. Feige cites Gone with the Wind as the archetypal adaptation, the most successful film ever made adjusted for inflation, but it is worlds removed from something like White Noise.
Well if that's the way they're going to put it, no wonder the movies are failing. There's no mention of entertainment value, yet we're being told that to remain sustained over time, they have to adapt and shift along? I'm sorry, that's not addressing real concerns that merit is being thrown out with bath water, all for the sake of wokeness. They also say:
The problem isn’t the volume of comic book adaptations. It’s that there are too many of those adaptations following the exact same template, in the exact same genre, with the exact same dialogue style, with the exact same color grading, with the exact same climax, and with no interest in anything beyond that. The problem is the flattening of “comic book movie” to “superhero movie” and “superhero movie” to a particular kind of superhero movie.
At least they admit there've been way too many superhero movies, or comics-based movies over the past 15 years. Nevertheless, they tiptoe around more meaty answers to what's causing fatigue, and that's hardly helping.
It is, of course, too early to talk about “superhero fatigue” as a market force. However, there are some distant rumblings on the seismograph. Of the six MCU films released between Thor: Ragnarok in November 2017 and Black Widow in June 2021, only Ant-Man and the Wasp failed to break a billion. In contrast, the only one of the seven films in the company’s Phase Four to earn over a billion dollars was Spider-Man: No Way Home, which was largely overseen by Sony.
I don't think it's too early. Mainly because the movies, as mentioned, had underwhelming results. But for them, it's never the right time to talk about PC lunacy dumbing down the screenplays for the sake of it. So they're not really finding answers to anything.
There is a sense the studio knows this and is trying to combat the perception. However, the studio’s response has been to double down on what already works. The answer is always more. Of course, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars will undoubtedly make a lot of money. However, with this shift in the air, it really feels like Feige and Marvel Studios should maybe consider their Hollywood history and start trying to figure out how to keep the genre fresh and exciting.
But what if by that, they mean they're okay with injecting woke ideologies? Fresh and exciting, coming from them, at least, doesn't amount to much of an answer. What matters is entertainment value, and if they say they're making a movie with topics to make you think, they'd do well not to follow the far-left template that's damaged much of modern showbiz. The Black Adam movie apparently made use of some very tasteless political metaphors, right down to some of the casting choices. And that's just to remind everyone even DC's movie productions are badly affected by all this atrocious PC approach. Let's also not forget the Joker movie, which serves as an example of too much spotlighting for villains.

Maybe a better argument would be that these movie franchises should at least be put on the back burner for a decade or so, and leave room for some other genres and themes instead. Besides, all those heavy special effects have made sci-fi movies insufferable for me these days.

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