We are lucky. This generation. We just are. While so many of us have feasted on the phalanx of comic books and their animated versions, live action superhero movies seem like the real deal.
They have brought so many things to life, our dreams, our wildest imaginations. The action moves, the kicks, the punches, the costumes, the worlds which we could only imagine, are realised, and its soooo gratifying.
And the greatest thing about superhero movies is that there are so many stories to tell.
Sometimes it feels like the mainstream movies are running out of stories to tell. That they are unilaterally governed by their profitability and marketability.
That while making movies, these are THE two constants. And the whole movie is built around them.
A lot of focus, today is on the viewers’ satisfaction. Big movie production houses, distributors, they have grown so big. And they invest a lot of money. Millions, like pennies. So it’s not rocket science to understand that they want profits, huge profits. It is the era of commercial cinema.
Earlier, a movie didn’t necessarily mean gratification, over the top moments, a “wohoo”. It could torture you, it could tether your rapt attention to that celluloid, it didn’t necessarily have a rich soundtrack or some catchy tune, and it did have a story, most of the time.
Today, its not that such movies are not made, many such movies are made, but the thing is, they are not trusted as much as they used to be.
A superhero movie seems like a perfect marriage. It has imagination. It has story. It has (a lot of ) action. It caters to the masses. Because of the birth of superhero comic fandom in the mid-twentieth century, today, in the 21st century, all generations today can watch a superhero movie. It has humongous hype. It has the ever-burgeoning profitability.
And these movies have truly rocked the stage. In these past 10 or 20 years we have seen a lot of them. And many of them have been so popular, so awe-inspiring, so funny.
But will these movies always be like this? Smart. Funny. Super action-packed. Light-toned. Light-hearted. Riddled with highlights and flashes.
This… trend needs to change. At some point we are going to get bored. Yes. It will happen. And it will be so excruciating to be bored and disappointed by a superhero movie. Unimaginable. But impending.
That’s why we need a change. That’s why we need darker themes, darker stories, more intensely portrayed characters and challenging and taut storylines. Of course we need action. And jokes, wisecracks, of course. But not unnecessarily.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable was a first or its kind. Unique. Realistic. Mature. The portrayals of Samuel L. Jackson and I Bruce Willis were brilliant. This movie could be a beacon to usher the superhero movie genre into a new and exciting era.
Batman Vs superman is one such movie, like Watchmen (Both directed by Zack Snyder) which showed us perspective and the unimaginable territory to explore in superhero genre. Though lambasted by critics and even some fans, it’s darker tone, grittier story and some astute movie-making might as well make it a cult movie in the future.
Making R-rated superhero movies is also a big risk despite the huge aesthetic freedom. But movies like Logan and Deadpool have succeeded beyond all expectations. Both critics and audiences adored them. And that should somewhat set the tone. Distributors taking the example of 20th century fox should explore newer realms in newer ways.
Superhero movies make us wonder. They inspire us. They transcend us from our mundane existences, and show us what it could mean to be more, much more. Scenes reel in our heads for days. Some death rankles deep. Dialogues hit home. Those superhero landings lift us.
And the last thing that anyone who loves such awesomeness wants is to get bored of it. And for that, a continuous reinvention of superhero movies is so important. Darker tones have to be groped for. Some realism, even amidst some mind-boggling fantasy is necessary. Because all of us want our fantasies to be more than just a dreamy celluloid phantasm, if not real.