Open Forum Friday: Are Comic Book Movies on the Verge of Dying Out?

A couple of weeks ago, Matthew Vaughn, director of Kick-Ass, was interviewed by the L.A. Times about his upcoming movie, X-Men: First Class and the future of superheroes on the big screen. His response was somewhat surprising. He explained that the only reason he was eager to follow up one comic book movie with another is because he believes that the genre is on the verge of dying out, and that there wouldn’t be many more opportunities for him to do another one:

“It’s been mined to death and in some cases the quality control is not what it’s supposed to be. People are just going to get bored of it… The genre is going to be dead for a while because the audience has just been pummeled too much.”

It’s an interesting perspective, coming from the same guy whose last movie was said by some to be the beginning of the end for comic book movies because it was so post-modern and self-referential. Right now it’s still hard to imagine superheroes losing their box office power, but when you think about where a lot of the big franchises are, they’ve all reached the third movie and now they’ve got nowhere to go. Spider-Man and many others are being rebooted already, and while Marvel is building to The Avengers, what will happen after that? Fans are starting to lose faith in some franchises, and the smaller characters just don’t have the same appeal. What do you think? Is Matthew Vaughn on to something here, or is he just coming across as an arrogant know-it-all? Will the next wave of reboots and spin-offs succeed, or will people start to lose interest? Are you burning out on the comic book movie craze? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

  • swarez

    I hope he’s not basing this on the box office returns for Kick Ass.
    There are tons of more comic book movies on their way so they aren’t going away just yet.
    But of course every fad has its limits. It will die out eventually. Then reemerge a few years down the line.

  • Maopheus

    He has a point. There are only so many commercially viable characters and titles. You can only re-boot so many times. What new movies and franchises coming up are people really excited about? I mean, originally I thought that Marvel’s Avengers master plan was pretty cool, but it nows seems to have put a stranglehold on creativity and making each individual movie only a cog. And if the Avengers movie itself stinks or underperforms, then what? They’ve set up almost too high expectations for themselves.

  • I’ve been tired of comic book movies since 2004. They seem to have really exhausted the properties, coming out with any comic that received any kind of buzz. They got cranking out the movies at a rapid pace. Like movies of various other genres (romantic comedies, slashers) they all seem to follow the same conventions and just have different characters. Even Kick-Ass, which I saw regretfully, was like that. What will make people more wary is what made executives want to buy the properties in the first place: Being adaptations gives them talking points for marketing. But now instead of people saying, “Let’s see this, I heard it’s based off of a comic,” people will say, “I’ll pass, it’s another movie based off of a comic.”

    I think that the rapid pace, and strong similarities will cause plots and films to merge in people’s minds. Comic book films will become extremely disposable.

  • Gil

    I don’t know that it’s dying out exactly, but a lot of these comic book movies do kinda gargle on the nut-sack.

  • mark

    disney owns marvel, so I don’t think its going away

    Avengers is gonna suck.

  • I don’t think that the comic book movies will die but they won’t be the dominating force in the cinemas like they are now. Most of the big comic book properties are done and none of them seem to work over more than 2 movies.

  • Chris

    Once Capt America and Thor come out, the most famous comic book heroes will have big budget movies. So I do think a decline is coming soon. But definitely won’t die out.

  • I think the better question is what is going to replace these films? Obviously blockbusters are based around name recognition, so that is a specific requirement for the replacement of the genre.

    They cycle could continue indefinitely with a reboot occurring at intervals that hit the younger male demographic that had not been exposed to the previous incarnation of a superhero.

  • Richard

    The Losers and the upcoming Red are both based on not so well known comics. There are always new titles coming out from many publishers, and movie people look at them for possible source material just like they do novels. They will probably continue to do so forever. The costumed superhero might burn out a little, but not much. All the comic book movies in the last two decades has gotten the audience quite used to them. If there’s a new Batman movie out every four years, people will likely go see it, regardless of quality. Still, I think that director’s attitude will only help X Men First Class. It might give the film some urgency, rather than feeling like X Men Part 4 Studio Product

  • two words that will keep the genre alive for a few years: WONDER WOMAN get’er done

  • Fatbologna

    I think the more precise question is: Are SUPERHERO movies on the verge of dying out? Comics span just as many genres as movies do. Studios will continue to mine comic books for stories/plots long after the Marvel movies have petered out. They’ll probably be less likely to mention the source material when the trend dies but I think they’ll still look to them for inspiration. Comic book writers tend to take on riskier subjects in a more creative way than screenwriters these days and I think that’s what keeps bringing studios to the well.

    Besides, if you think that studios will stop making Superhero movies as soon as people get sick of them you’re fooling yourself. They’ll run that shit so far into the ground that people will absolutely LOATHE them by the time they’re done.

  • Sexirobot

    The answer is No. Superhero pictures are a genre and as such will exist and prosper in perpetuity as long as filmmakers present them in interesting ways.

    The problem isn’t that there are too many superhero movies, the problem is the majority of them have $100+ million budgets…and always aim for blockbuster status.

  • Ian

    I think that genres have their times of extreme popularity and their times when they are less so. I don’t think it will die out. But as the US moves away from war times and into an odd depression these movies about total world devastation might do well OR they might backfire and everybody will just want to see something heartwarming. In the end a good story is what’s key and stuff with proper “quality control” will always be around in all sorts of genres … I hope.

  • DavidM

    Superhero movies are boring.

  • Werner

    Looking forward to Spielberg’s
    The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

    Comic book movies will stay around.

  • Mr.Nobody

    There are too many shitty comic book movies (Kick-Ass being a recent example), so yes, they probably will die out. But that is Hollywood quality for you, money instead of quality. But then again, its audience likes its shitty films (just like the Indians and the Bollywood films), so it probably will hold on a bit longer.

  • pcch7

    If they continue to make them as awesome as Kick-Ass then no, not in terms of quality.. Wether they´ll make money, that´s another matter

  • Ben

    This is a silly topic. When are movies based on books going to die out???

  • zubzwank

    Comic book movies and superhero movies are pretty much the same in the general public’s eye. Most people will not know or care that Tintin is from a comic strip or Road to Perdition from a “graphic novel”.

    I think superhero movies will eventually become like spy movies, westerns, WW2 stories, Roman/Greek warriors, etc. After the current craze is over, they will slip out individually. Some will hit, some won’t.

    Look at the Bourne series as an example of a successful
    revival of an overdone genre.

    #6 you are so right. No superhero character can go more than 1 sequel in a given sequence. Anyone Need proof?
    Superman III
    Batman and Robin
    Spider-Man III
    X-Men III (although I didn’t think it all that bad)

  • @zubzwank: i meant that none of the third films are any good, with the exception of superman 3 of course.

  • Nate

    I say as long as they keep handing these franchises to interesting directors as they did with Raimi, Singer, Nolan and now Whedon, there will be good that comes from these films. When they start (continue?) handing them to jobbers like Ratner and Leterrier, that’s when they’ll decline and die out.

  • Werner

    #19 the “current craze” started 10 years ago with X-Men…a pretty long time for just being a “craze” me thinks :P

  • Steve

    Comic Book Movies are definitely dead. Up until a few years ago, I kept wondering why they never made an Iron Man movie (it was the largest oversight) then when they made it, and announced Thor etc, I knew it was over.

    They’re mined out all the worthwhile intellectual properties. Now they’re digging deeper with stuff like Scott Pilgrim (I never thought a Watchmen movie would be made). When they’re making movies of Godawful characters like goddamn Ghost Rider, and turning them into even worse films, I think the trend has definitely jumped the shark.