How the “Superhero” Genre is Evolving

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For years, simply any film based on a comic book property was put into the superhero genre and adhered to some pretty trite clichés. Every movie had to feature some A-List actor portraying some bland, surface-level character with vague motivation and “flaws” (Of course, never flawed enough so the audience would not enjoy them or question them). They all had to have some over-the-top third act battle between the hero and a CGI villain or hordes of nameless drones swarming them. This dullness and repetition of tropes caused renowned director Stephen Spielberg to state in an interview with The Associated Press that “there will be a time that the superhero movie goes the way of the Western.”

However, this may have been true for the trajectory the genre was headed for then, but now, these movies featuring superheroes are diversifying their genres and slowly putting an end to the cliche of a “superhero” genre. Even as close as two years ago, making non- “superhero” superheroes was considered a major taboo among most major studios and enough of a fiscal risk to not fund these endeavors.

Take for example one of the movies that ushered in this new age of multi-genre superhero films we are in now, “Deadpool” directed by Tim Miller. This movie had been in development hell for years and it seemed as if it had no chance of getting made. It actually took someone behind the scenes to leak test footage and show much of a public demand for it there was to get the measly (in comparison) $58,000,000 dollar budget it was produced with. This film was everything the rest of the superhero genre was not. It was raunchy, uber-violent and harshly satirical towards the campy movies audiences were used to. It even went so far as to lampoon what the superhero genre had become and question the audience why they even enjoyed it.

The film went on to gross over 12 times its budget and pave the way for more non-traditional films like it. The following year, “Logan,” a movie featuring the classic mutant Wolverine in the style of a Western film was released to immense critical and financial success. While these two were not technically in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and were therefore less mainstream, their effects soon started to take hold in the shared universe. “Thor: Ragnorak,” one of the most recent films in the shared universe almost took on an entirely comedic tone. It was goofy, wacky and a complete departure from what audiences expected out of a Thor movie. This trend shows no sign of stopping soon, with the Marvel Comics based film, “New Mutants” set to release in 2019. The trailer that has been released and the interviews from the cast and crew paint the movie as an entirely horror-based film that just happens to feature characters that first debuted in comics. From the off-the-wall insanity of “Deadpool” to the full-fledged horror of “New Mutants,” the superhero movie shows no sign of slowing down in this expedient evolution it has been on as of late.

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