Oh, Marvel movies. Bastions of cash and pop culture fuel, whatever did we do before you? Since the Disney buyout, the wild success of the Marvel films have helped buoy the company, even as the tentpole films carrying the Disney name have flopped, and resulted in massive company layoffs and consolidation. See also: John Carter, The Lone Ranger, Finest Hours, Tomorrowland, Tron: Legacy...
But Marvel holds strong, at least for now. Eventually, the film series will have to confront some big hurdles to remain relevant, not to mention a lucid narrative. Much like the Batman films of the late 1990s, Marvel stands to exhaust itself, or at least its audience due to overexposure and budgets run amok. Disagree? Consider these factors before you decide for sure! Yes, the Burton-Schumacher Batman universe lasted only four films in a span of less than ten years. Marvel has already beat that record, but it doesn't mean the MCU can ignore these problems forever!
10 Swelling Budget
Way back when 2008 saw the release of Iron Man, Marvel had placed all their hopes on a single, second-string character (as far as pop culture was concerned). A director with a mixed record and an actor primarily known for his legal woes and drug use led the film, and which was a self-funded production. While Paramount studios would distribute, Marvel remained an independent studio, fueled by profits gained by farming out characters like Spiderman and the X-Men to other studios. Marvel accomplished this feat by keeping the budget under control.
I watched Ant-Man last summer with good-natured optimism. About half way through the film, I realized I was bored. It had nothing to do with the appealing cast, special effects or jokey tone. The problem: I felt like I'd seen it before, numerous times.
8 Aging Cast
7 Cartoon Follies
In 2013, generations of TV viewers mourned the loss of one of the industry standards: the Saturday morning cartoon. For years the only way to get a dose of superhero action was in animation, and said generations of viewers helped propel the recent deluge of superhero films to blockbuster status. Chief among the benefactors: Marvel.
6 Franchise Fatigue
Establishing a shared universe is no small feat, and the folks who oversaw Marvel's cinematic universe deserve applause for building one so intricate and true to its comic book roots. Unfortunately though, at a certain point it becomes overwhelming. How many Marvel movies does the audience need per year? How many TV shows? At what point does the cotton candy of the MCU start to make the audience sick?
5 Growing Complexity
4 Alienating Filmmakers
With the frustrating requirement of including an increasingly complex backstory in every film or TV series, and with the Marvel executives desperate to protect their cash cow, filmmakers have begun to recoil from the franchise. There's a hint of irony there--what began as a filmmaker-driven series with Iron Man now must cater to a litany of requirements, so much so that longtime Marvel scribe and director of the Avengers movies, Joss Whedon, has vowed to never work for the studio again! Couple that with the revolving door of directors who sign on to Marvel films only to depart--among them, Ann DuVarney, Patty Jenkins and Edgar Wright--and the shadow of overproducing falls over the series.
3 Changing Ratings
Hollywood is a reactionary community. When something hits big, it becomes a fad for other movies to emulate. Remember how every action movie began using wire work after The Matrix? Or recall the glut of fantasy films that came out after the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films struck gold?
Deadpool made quite a splash in February 2016, and now the studios are rushing to mimic the violent, adult content of that movie with their own superhero properties. Fox has announced that a third Wolverine film will carry an R-Rating, and that the forthcoming Batman v. Superman will also feature a longer, R-Rated cut when it hits Blu-Ray.
2 Star Woes
As mentioned before, skyrocketing paydays for the Marvel actors have caused the budgets to balloon on the Marvel films. The actors can't stay young forever, and historically audiences bristle at recasting.
1 Superman v. Captain America: Dawn of Throwdown
Just as the burgeoning number of Marvel films risks exhausting the audience, so does the arrival of the integrated DC movie universe. With both studios rushing to spit out more and more superhero epics, they run the risk of exhausting the entire genre!
And therein lies the greatest rub, the culmination of every other point I've made thus far: without a diverse group of films--some dark, some comedic, some cerebral--every superhero movie will start to resemble all the others, making individual films less and less distinctive. If that happens, audiences could tune out the entire genre. While comic die-hard fans like myself (or, let's face it, you if you've read this far) might welcome the complex, meandering and intertwining plots, to a viewer just wanting to have fun and see something new at the movies, the glut of superhero movies will seem like nothing more than a blur. Decreasing revenue will squeeze out the number of films going before the cameras, until they all just fade to black.
Sources: Imdb.com; wikipedia.org
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