Is superhero movie fatigue setting in?


At the time of writing there are 69 (42 of them non MCU) live action Marvel movies and 29 live action DC movies. And there's no sign of them stopping either, There are 7 live action Marvel properties on the way out this year alone.

It's only natural that after this much Superhero action audiences might be begining to grow a bit tired of it all. That's not to say that the movies aren't good or that people don't enjoy them, its more that it just isn't exciting anymore. Sure, people are still getting excited for the major ones (Spider-man and The Batman for example) and that will likely continue to happen but there just doesn't seem to be quite the same appetite for all things superhero that there once was.


From a pure box office standpoint it's hard to draw any conclusions, the ongoing pandemic has seen every movie over the last two years suffer heavily on this front with many even skipping theatrical releases and going straight to streaming. However, even though Covid has thrown a spanner in the works not every box office failure can be pinned onto it. The Eternals, a movie that only stays relevant because not a single person cared about its existence, took an estimated $481 million worldwide box office on an estimated budget of $200 million. A movie doubling its money can't be bad right? Wrong. Budget statistics entirely forget about all costs other than production, marketing alone often very often costs a similar amount as production and that's before factoring in distribution, reshoots etc. In order to break even The Eternals would've needed to make about $680 million worldwide. So is this because the movie was bad? Not really, it may not have been a fan favourite but there have definitely been worse MCU movies (just take your pick from the Thor movies, yes even Ragnarok) but it certainly wasn't bad. Covid almost definitely made an impact but by November 2021 theatres were open to full capacity around most of the world so even without the pandemic it would probably only just reach that magical $680 million to break even.


This is where superhero fatigue comes in. 9 Marvel properties premiered in the same year, this is unheard of for any other franchise. Now imagine if there were 8 Fast and Furious movies a year (actually don't nobody should have to imagine a future so grim), people would be begging Vin Diesel to stop and rightly so. It's only natural that audiences might start to check out of any franchise after time, especially one as relentless and ever present as the Marvel franchise. Things become less of a special experience, less of an event, less interesting when they happen all the time and since the early 2000s superhero movies have certainly been happening all the time.


With all that being said, this problem is more relevant to the hyper succsseful Disney owned franchises, it's a symptom of succsses rather than a sign of failure. Other studios who shall go unnamed *cough* Warner Bros and DC *cough* are suffering less from fatigue and more from their own dire mismanagment that comes as a result of building a whole movie franchise and tearing it down to make way for a worse version of itself.


With the way the world is at the minute its hard to make any conclusions from any of this. Is it fatigue? Is it a global pandemic? Is it just an off year for the superhero genre? It doesn't really matter either, the superhero train will keep coming for many years to come and it won't stop for anyone or anything (picture the infamous GTA V train but just full of actors who are mostly all on steroids) so strap in for the ride.

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