Photo: Superhero Homogenization
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the introduction of DC into television, we are constantly bombarded with superheroes on all forms of media. Who are we to complain, whether it’s the latest Spider-Man movie starring fan-favorite Tom Holland or another season of Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen on ‘The flash,’ the superhero franchise has a large market and popularity. Nowadays, there are over 30 movies based on superheroes and many more are in the pipeline for the second phase of the MCU.
The problem? The market becomes so diluted, so oversaturated with the same content that the value of these films is eclipsed. The reason lies in the pockets of Hollywood millionaires who understand the lucrative nature of the business and try to funnel as much money as they can. ‘The Avengers’ is the third highest-grossing film after all, with over $1 billion made. Overall, the mcu has grossed over $7 billion worldwide and they are far from stopping.
Theory of Vertical Integration in Superhero Franchises
What are the reasons for the money grab behind these films? The economic concept of vertical integration is one of the main reasons. There are several franchises in each superhero series, such as the MCU which includes the “Iron Man” series, the “Thor” series, the ‘Captain America‘ and now also the series ‘The Spiderman’. They even have shows like ‘Agents of SHIELD‘ popularized on Netflix, which creates profit potential which in turn incentivizes movie studios to create bigger, better and more dramatic shows from said franchises. This causes the genre to grow at an exponential rate and sometimes lose quality in favor of money.
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Marvel vs DC: What Makes MCU Movies Successful?
Marvel creates characters that are indistinguishable from each other, which is why the multi-franchise universe approach works for them. If Iron Man and Captain America engage in a civil war, it’s not strange, to say the least. It did, however, cause a heartbreaking homogenizing effect where other studios have tried the same thing but failed. Warner Brothers seized it with “Man of Steel” and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’‘ but the attempt to include both characters in the same franchise and create a realistic yet engaging film doesn’t live up to its origins in the MCU.
the DC Universe also lacks strong films, instead their power lies in creating dynamic fan-favorite superhero TV shows. Such include ‘The Flash,’ ‘Supergirl,’ ‘DC Legends of Tomorrow,‘ and ‘Arrow.’ All series are based on comic books and offer the same passion, fervor and intense action that comic book fans crave. the ‘Justice League‘ or ‘Batman’ movies don’t pack as much of a punch, mostly for the reasons mentioned above.
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Fan reactions to homogenization in the superhero genre
Interestingly enough, there are few complaints about this trend towards homogenization. I guess the idea of ”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to the superhero genre. The appeal of said genre is the spectacle and sense of escapism it offers. It’s fast, powerful, emotionally impactful, and has characters who accomplish the impossible, the feats of our dreams, whether it’s soaring over a cityscape or punching someone through a wall with a single punch. overpowering fist. It sounds like a world with little vulnerability or fragility and who wouldn’t want to get lost in a reality where pain and susceptibility to it are eliminated?
Realism limits the originality and creativity of superhero movies
Attempts at realism originally seemed to found the superhero genre, especially when it first emerged as a major genre. Now, that seems to be suffocating the industry from within, creating restrictions and barriers that trap superhero movies in a generic formula that could use a little change, a little spice. For example, Thor is a Norse god and he lives in this magical dimension of Asgard but the movie brings him to Earth where he is surrounded by other humans, cars, technology. We’re not completely losing Asgard, thanks to by Loki participation in the franchise but the place only has three locations – the castle, the Bifrostand Jotenheim.
The essence of the world and the magical elements have been stripped, erased to accommodate attempts at realism. However, perhaps now, with superhero movies having a more grounded presence, a film studio could afford to explore these magical realms, allowing a bit of the soul and heart of these superheroes. heroes to return, even with the real world in place.
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Superheroes – Where is the trade-off between fantasy and realism?
Perhaps the only way to maintain that and the originality of superhero movies is to change the style. Kevin Fiege, the producer of most Marvel movies has taken on this daunting mission. He started with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,‘ which is considered a fan-favorite franchise due to Chris Pratt’s wacky character and Gamora’s fierce character. The “Batman” trilogy did it for the DC franchise, but now fans expect either the chaotic fun of Starlord and the gang or the dark realism of Batman.
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Fans support homogenization trend, like to see favorites on screen
It looks like, for now, nothing will change in the studios, as long as fans stay interested and make money for Hollywood. The formula has no reason to change and luckily, whenever the audience seems to be bored, it’s easy to rely on the creative license of superheroes and fantasy elements to reinvent and create something something new that slightly challenges the boundaries of what works. Perhaps the best solution is to strike the perfect balance between characters with flaws and gritty heroic traits and those with magical, cunning abilities and roots in the magical, creative worlds that comic book writers have created in the purpose of spreading fantasy and joy.
By Mireille Karadanaian
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