Monday 22 January 2018

10 reasons why I'm sick to death of superhero movies

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman - Arkham Knight
The Hulk
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

The new Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, opens here next Thursday – a week ahead of the US, for some reason – and a thought has occurred to me: this will never end.

Superhero films will continue to colonise our cinemas, possibly until the end of time (unless Doktor Cataclysmo invents a big Time-Reversion Machine and starts spooling time backwards and…oh, never mind).

Not content with their conquest of multiplexes over the last decade or so, the soulless monsters who run movie studios have now mapped out the next several years. 2015, besides Avengers, will see Ant-Man and a Fantastic Four reboot, among others.

Next year includes Batman vs Superman, the latest Captain America and X-Men Apocalypse. 2017 sees a new Wolverine, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and, oh God, another Fantastic Four.


I’ll stop there; I’m starting to cry as I type all that. Suffice to say, the Hollywood Hell-Mouth has pencilled in Green Lantern for release on June 19, 2020 – their relentless war on cinema is pitched that far ahead.

They even talk about things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which at this point I’m starting to worry might literally replace the real universe.

Empire magazine, studio accountants and socially maladjusted fanboys all love them, but I am super-sick of superhero movies. And I’ve good reason. Ten of them, in fact:

1. They’re self-regarding.

A trailer for the trailer? Cinema screenings for trailers?  Talking about being “true to the origin story” and “faithful adaptations”? Terms like “Canon” (capital C, no less) and “fictional universe”? Whoa: this ain’t the Complete Works of Shakespeare. It’s a group of men in rubber bodysuits horse-playing before a green-screen. Tone down the pretentiousness.

2. Too many special effects.

And too many computer-generated effects. The eye can always tell. It’s like an ocular sugar-overload.

3. They seem unaware the human race contains two sexes.

The only women in superhero flicks are girlfriends, moms and grannies, rare (implausibly good-looking) scientist and rarer female superheroes. Who always dress “sexily”, even though ass-hugging leotards aren’t as useful in combat as, well, combats and Kevlar vests. Sigh.

4. They’re very often stupid and childish.

Probably because they’re based on comic-books, which are sometimes stupid and mostly childish. Come on, they are – outside of the handful of exceptions proving the rule. Yes, I’ve read Maus, yes, it’s brilliant…and it’ll never be made into a summer blockbuster. Anyway, childishness isn’t bad per se – but a pop culture based almost entirely around it is.

5. They’re not funny. Even the funny ones aren’t funny.

They’re smart-arse and glib and all the actors swap lines in that too-smooth, bidda-bidda-bidda manner. But the only genuinely laughable thing in these movies is how seriously everyone takes them.

6. Everyone takes them too seriously.

Again, this isn’t Shakespeare. I like pop culture fine – I’ve seen every Jason Statham movie at least twice – but still. I remember a while ago, nerds being up in arms because some character’s race or sex (I forget exactly) was being changed. Eh, as a grown adult, who cares really?

7. They often don’t make a lick of sense.

 I don’t mean as in “aliens don’t exist, therefore Superman doesn’t exist” – I’m willing to give any narrative concept, no matter how fantastical, a fair shot. They don’t make sense on their own terms; within the, ahem, fictional universe. Take the Avengers – second-biggest grossing movie ever, praised for its witty and intelligent script. And one of the characters is a god. AN ACTUAL GOD. Fighting alongside an irradiated mutant and a bloke in a robot suit and someone who fires arrows or whatever. HE’S A GOD. GODS ARE OMNIPOTENT AND INDESTRUCTIBLE AND IMMORTAL. Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else, Thor teaming up with some mortal humans?

8. They’re all drawn from comic-books.

Which would be fine, except they ignore a lot of great source material in comics. By focusing on superheroes, cinema misses out on a wealth of really interesting stories from comics, especially the British ones from my childhood, that would make brilliant entertainments. Supernatural/horror, espionage, action, war, sci-fi, fantasy, all sorts of things; not just smart-arse men in fancy suits doing battle with CGI monsters.

9. They’re pathologically self-devouring.

Which means you get a Spiderman film, then a sequel, then another sequel…then, less than ten years later, a “reboot” which has a sequel and…

10.  Most grievously of all: they're squeezing out proper actioners.

Movies where grisly men in vests kick ass and take names, while chomping cigars and laconically delivering quips like “Con-see-dah datta dee-voh-ahzz”. Ah, Arnie – now he was a true god…

Batman v Superman's leaked trailer mocked for being too dark 

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