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Thursday, May 02, 2024 

Avengers film directors dismiss "superhero fatigue", and seem to accept AI usage

Total Film interviewed Joe and Anthony Russo, directors mainly of the Avengers movies, taking a look at the current state of the live action adaptations, and the twosome don't think the issue of superhero fatigue bears any weight:
As Joe Russo told GamesRadar+, he thinks that Marvel's current issues all come down to audiences changing, which in turn is due to a transformation in how the world now absorbs media. And it's not just affecting the MCU too in Hollywood, as he emphasized: "I think it's a reflection of the current state of everything. It's difficult right now, it's an interesting time. I think we're in a transitional period and people don't know quite yet how they're going to receive stories moving forward, or what kinds of stories they're going to want.

"There's a big generational divide about how you consume media. There's a generation that's used to appointment viewing and going to a theater on a certain date to see something, but it's ageing out. Meanwhile the new generation are 'I want it now, I want to process it now’, then moving onto the next thing, which they process whilst doing two other things at the same time. You know, it's a very different moment in time than it's ever been. And so I think everyone, including Marvel, is experiencing the same thing, this transition. And I think that really is probably what's at play more than anything else."

Continuing, Russo then stated that it's not just an issue the film and TV industry is facing, but the world in general – then highlighting that it's an incredibly difficult problem to address. As he said: "We have never collectively, globally, processed our conversation so intimately and quickly as we do now. I think that creates problems, where we over-process and don't care about context anymore. We communicate through memes and headlines, with nobody reading past two sentences, so everything's 100 characters or less – or 10-second videos on social media you swipe through. I think that the two-hour format, the structure that goes into making a movie, it’s over a century old now and everything always transitions. So, there is something happening again and that form is repetitive. But it's hard to reinvent that form and I think this next generation is looking for ways to tell their own stories that service their own sort of collective ADHD."

The pair also agree that they don't believe in the idea of superhero fatigue - with Anthony Russo pointing out that even if it was a problem, it's hardly a new one for cinema. As he explained: "I think it’s fatigue in general. The superhero fatigue question was around long before the work we were doing. So, it's sort of an eternal complaint, like we always used to cite this back in our early days with superhero work. People used to complain about westerns in the same way but they lasted for decades and decades and decades. They were continually reinvented and brought to new heights as they went on."
Ahem. Westerns waned in popularity by the late 60s-early 70s, and while it's not like more weren't made afterward, they never regained the same heights they had before. In comics, westerns probably had less popularity after a certain period of time, and by the Bronze Age, the genre became limited in use, at least in mainstream, recalling Jonah Hex was one of the few I know of produced in that period. Maybe that's one of the reasons why it was as successful as it was for the era.

It's also insulting to the intellect the Russos won't admit wokeism is a leading problem in the decline of superhero fare, and then, they have the gall to imply the audience doesn't know what it wants? Awfully impolite of them. They go on to address employment of AI, and don't seem too concerned whether it could lead to corruption:
In addition to the above, another issue the industry is currently facing is AI with many questions being asked about what role this plays going forward. News stories such as horror movie Late Night With The Devil using AI to create some images for the film have attracted controversy, and that's only one example in an ever-growing list.

So, what do the Russo Brothers make of the current use of AI in Hollywood and what do they see the future of it being? For Joe Russo, it's all about who exactly is using it, as he explained: "We're always afraid of change but we always end up on the other side of it - and you can't stop AI. It's here and it's moving at a pace of weeks, not months or years. When we were at the festival last year and had a conversation about AI, it was somewhat controversial but there were no real stories about Chat GPT etc at that time and no Sora. So, it's going to move exponentially fast.

"The trick, and the most important part of it, is getting in front of it, not being afraid of it, understanding it, and controlling it. Because if we lose control of the narrative, there are corporate entities who are going to be less concerned with the artists’ role in the future of media than artists standing up for themselves and protecting themselves. I think that’s the most important line in the sand to draw. Let's keep humans who control this stuff moving forward."
If he's okay with AI becoming mainstreamed, that's dismaying. Despite his admitting corporates putting it more to use than human artists is problematic, his statement that we'll have to accept AI is decidedly defeatism incarnate. It's not that we can't understand or control AI, but it could still lead to situations where all sorts of businesses will be more than fully willing to accept it's use at the expense of real artists. The Russos clearly aren't all that different from various other industry apologists who won't admit PC's bringing down superhero fare, let alone admit the overabundance of superhero fare is another problem that's led to it's popularity waning. They probably won't even admit it's a shame it all brought down action-star movies either, like the ones Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwartzenegger were known for a few decades ago.

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