We can expect to see more spandex in theaters


The Appalachian Online


“There will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western,” said director Steven Spielberg in an interview last week with The Associated Press.

Spielberg continued and said, “right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.”

Spielberg isn’t exactly wrong here. Someday the superhero movie passing out of the general public’s favor will certainly occur. The hope is that this doesn’t happen for a long time, and to be frank, this hope isn’t unfounded.

When Spielberg compares the superhero movie to the Western, he forgets that there are several factors that favor the superhero movie’s continued existence as a genre.

First of all, superhero movies bring in massive profits for the studios that create them. The foremost example of this is “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which brought in roughly $1.5 billion worldwide and over $600,000 domestically.

Compare this to the highest grossing Western, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which brought in roughly $560,000.

In fact, the combined profits from the top three grossing superhero movies (“Marvel’s The Avengers” with $1.5 billion, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” with roughly $1.4 billion and “Iron Man 3” with $1.2 billion, according to boxofficemojo.com) is far greater than the combined profits of the top 10 grossing Western films of all time, according to Newsday.

Secondly, what Spielberg fails to take into account is that there’s a cohesion to the superhero genre that the Western didn’t have. Namely that the films all draw from a source as opposed to new concepts.

Fox, Warner Bros., Sony and Disney are the four major studios for these films. Of these four, three of them use characters that draw from the same source (Marvel comics). This is a drastic difference from the Western, as the films are able to draw from more than 50 years of content in order to produce more films.

Not only do the films themselves make money, but so does the merchandise created from them. Spider-Man, in toy sales alone, made over $1.3 billion on top of the money made from non-toy merchandise, the movies and comic sales, according to The Licensing Letter.

There’s also the planning involved in these films. Marvel has planned out their film lineup up until 2019, and surely there are plans for films even beyond that.

DC has begun to also emulate Marvel’s cinematic universe with one of their own, beginning with “Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice” in 2016.

The sheer devotion that the fans have for the characters is only last of many factors that play into the genre’s success.

I, for one, am a rabid fan of Marvel comics, to the point where I spend hundreds of dollars per year on merchandise, comics and movies. Whenever a new Marvel movie comes out, I am always in line during the opening weekend to see my favorite characters.

So long as all of these factors continue to work in favor of the superhero movie genre, the chances of it dying out are quite low.

The genre has only begun to reach its peak, and with new movies coming in over the horizon (I for one am quite excited for “Captain Marvel” and “Deadpool”) combined with the unique nature of the brand, people should prepare to see a lot more spandex in the film industry’s future.

Russell, a freshman Computer Science major from Charlotte, is an opinion writer.