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Super or Stupor? The Future of Superhero Films

As much as fanboys may drool (or perhaps more often grimace) at the eventual interpretation of their favourite heroes on the big screen, their ultimate reaction is a pittance in relation to that of the masses and by that of course I mean how quickly mass audiences empty their wallets for the newest big-budget crusader-centric extravaganza. Comedian Seth Rogen dons a mask this Friday in the Michel Gondry directed The Green Hornet and in honour of this release and the beginning of a new year of films, Player Affinity will take a look at the state of the superhero genre and its trending performance in the near future.
The most famous (and ultimately most lucrative) superhero properties such as Superman and Batman will never die. The Man of Steel is verging on his third incarnation with Zach Snyder at the helm and under the guidance of caped crusader auteur Christopher Nolan. Speaking of Nolan, considering the mammoth success of his Batman franchise, I see no reason why Warner Bros. would opt to put the series to rest after he departs. Even if the series is put dormant for a decade or two, the name will still carry clout (aided by a massive budget) and the Batmobile will once again ride the streets of Gotham.

greenhornetpicSpider-Man is already experiencing a reimagining not but four years after the last entry of Sam Raimi’s trilogy and despite the lack of positive response to Spider-Man 3, if this forthcoming reboot flops I’ll eat my tights. On the flip side, what I don’t see happening is frequent revivals of entries such as Thor or Captain America; these are somewhat risky endeavours to begin with. Coupled with adaptations featuring second and third-tier heroes, the genre will not be bolstered to the heights it once experienced.

Over the next three years almost all of the major superhero resources will have been strip-mined with the exception of Wonder Woman, The Flash and Aquaman, and it should not take long for these entries to see the light of the silver screen if trends continue. With the exception of the aforementioned possibility of reboots and bringing lesser known protagonists into the limelight, that leaves only sequels, spinoffs and wholly original works. However, after TV’s The Cape was crucified by critics, there may be no room left for new additions and clever deconstructions.

James Gunn’s Super starring Rainn Wilson as The Crimson Bolt will see a release April 1; a Kick-Ass, Defendor-esque parody in which the central hero lacks, well, everything that would make him into a viable crime-fighter, audiences have shown via mediocre box office returns that they either don’t get this niche sub-genre or simply have no interest in slapping down bills for a production made for less than $100 million. Thankfully, Kick-Ass was successful enough to warrant a sequel (aptly titled “Balls to the Wall”) though this should in no way be thought of as an outright trend towards more cerebral superhero material.

supermoviepicThe full list of upcoming films from this genre can be found at the end of this piece, and from there it is more or less a simple task of picking the hits from the disappointments.  After the monumental success of The Dark Knight, Nolan’s sequel will easily obliterate the 2012 box office, especially considering the director’s continually rising stature. Spider-Man 3D and Superman: Man of Steel will have enough good vibes and fan power to make them hits, as do (though to a lesser extent) Darren Aronofsky’s The Wolverine, the third “Iron Man” instalment and finally The Green Lantern (which will also be helped by Ryan Reynolds ever-growing popularity). Marvel’s extravaganza The Avengers should do great business considering the buzz building already, and the “X-Men” brand is still going strong which indicates grosses in the green for “First Class”.

This year, all eyes are on three huge tentpole releases: Green Lantern, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. All have the potential to be smash hits as much as they could tank, especially in international markets. These properties, while certainly well-known, lack the established fan bases of other heroes, though we need only look to Iron Man to show that is not always an issue. Two upcoming spin-off productions currently without release dates (Deadpool and X-Men Origins: Magneto) should also land in the middle plane of profitability though it is really too early to make any grounded predictions.

thorpicOnto the unfortunate souls which include Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Nick Fury, The Green Hornet, Super, Ant-Man and Kick Ass: Balls to the Wall. For them, success will be an uphill battle. That is not to say these entries will be flops, on the contrary, they simply face a steep climb if they wish to reach the heights of their web-slinging, Joker-punching and Lois Lane-lusting counterparts.

An inevitability in all facets I can surmise, this genre will strike a wall with a deafening thud before this new decade has concluded. But thanks to
Hollywood and its bandwagon mentality, in all likelihood the powers that be will have picked up on another fad and left superheroes the way of their source material: beloved, but the product of another time.    


List of upcoming superhero films

The Green Hornet
Captain America: The First Avenger
Green Lantern
X-Men: First Class

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
The Dark Knight Rises
Spider-Man 3D
The Avengers
Superman: Man of Steel

Iron Man 3


The Wolverine
 Kick Ass: Balls to the Wall
Nick Fury
   X-Men Origins: Magneto
The Flash
Wonder Woman 



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