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Opinion: Superheroes have jumped from comic books to the silver screen – but for how long?

Superheroes have flooded the movie scene with action-packed, block-busting hits.

Emma Vince

A CAPED CRUSADER, a man of steel, an incredible hulk, the god of thunder, a web shooting spider, the list could go on forever but it’s easy to see the world of imagination is dominated by the creation of superheroes. They began as an idea developed into comic books, and have now flooded the movie scene with action-packed, block-busting hits.

The superhero scene is bigger than ever and judging by future plans, it’s going to stay that way: 2013 brought us the power of Thor, the ego of Iron man and the bravery of Superman, while 2014 saw the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, both of which grossed impressively high on the box office.

This year features another set of superheroes making their mark with the second instalment of the Avengers hitting the big screen in April. We will then be introduced to Marvel’s size shifting thief, Ant-Man, and the year will be rounded off with a reboot of Fantastic Four. That line-up is set to continue with over 40 movies planned between now and 2020. Breaking that down, that’s roughly seven to eight movies per year. For movie buffs that means nearly every month for the next six years will feature at least one movie based on their favourite superhero from the world of Marvel and DC comics. Only one word can describe this: WOW.

Obsessive fans = successful box office figures

The film producers behind these movies such as Fox, Warner Bros, Sony, and Disney/Marvel Studios invest, develop and produce so many movies revolved around the superhero universe because they can be sure to receive successful box office figures. For example, six of the top 12 highest opening weekend grosses are held by superhero movies such as The Avengers and Spider-Man 3.

When entering into making a movie in this particular genre, the producers can be certain of one thing – the audience love it to the point of developing an obsession with it. Films that haven’t even been given anything except a name are debated and speculated from all angles of the earth. And the discussion surrounding films that are actually showing in cinemas worldwide is remarkable. Tweets, Facebook posts, video blogs; whatever way people can get their opinion out about such movies, they’ll do it.

These films want the fans to get involved and that could be the reason for Marvel’s decisions to use post-credits scenes at the end of the films, the first one being featured in Iron Man (2008). The moment one film ends, the build-up to the next instalment of the franchise immediately begins. And the audience have been hooked on those post-credits scenes from their beginning. Instead of racing for the exit the moment the movie credits appear on the screen, they patiently remained seated, enduring those credits in order to get a glimpse of what comes next.

Another big attraction to these types of films from massive producers is the mass-marketing that is involved. They can promote such films everywhere; releasing teaser trailers, merchandise (T-shirts, character dolls, cups), product wrappers (chocolate, mineral bottles, sweets), jewellery etc. The fans go crazy for the merchandise. When you’re walking down the street, you’ll most definitely pass somebody with some Marvel-related clothing, be it a T-shirt, a cap or a bag pack. When you go to the supermarket to purchase some toiletries, on the shelf next to your usual shampoo and shower gel choices, you may discover Marvel/DC Comics Characters shampoo and shower gel. When you’re on the bus on the way to work, school, or college, the person sitting next to you could be sipping their morning cup of coffee from a Batman thermal mug. All these little elements add fuel to movie producer’s continuous fire.

What is the draw of the superhero?

This sparks a question: why do people love a good superhero movie? What is it about this particular genre of film that has people hungry for so much more? Well, firstly, people watch movies because it allows them to relax and unwind. Superhero movies lean heavily towards the entertainment factor so they’re popular choices for when people need a break. A bucket of popcorn in one hand, an ice cold drink in the other, eyes fixed on the big screen where a bunch of villains are being destroyed by some of the toughest superheroes – nothing could be more relaxing.

Secondly, superheroes are figures of hope. In difficult times, people need an image of someone or something who will help them when they can’t fend for themselves. Superheroes are that image; they are the ones who help people maintain a normal life when things get tough. And lastly, these movies are a big bunch of fun; full of excitement, action, stunts and a whole lot of laughter.

But are superhero movies in a bubble that is bound to burst at some stage? There can be too much of a good thing and with 40 or so movies planned for the next six years, it’s difficult to imagine all being hits, never mind record-breaking ones. The pressure producers are under to make every superhero movie action-packed, humorous, and fun is increasing rapidly, especially after films such as The Avengers and Iron Man 3. Can they handle this type of pressure for 40-plus movies?

Time will tell. All that can be done for now is to sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the superhero ride while it lasts.

Emma Vince is a Journalism student at DCU from Swords, Co Dublin. She is a huge movie fanatic – if there’s something worth saying about a film, be it positive or negative, she’ll be one of the first people to say it.

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Emma Vince

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