‘Superhero fatigue is real’: Movie fans speak out on all-too-popular genre

Since the release of Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man” and the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2008, the entertainment industry has become dominated by the superhero film genre. Marvel could suddenly do no wrong, with each of their films drawing largely positive reviews as well as box office success.

The phenomena prompted Disney’s rival studio, Warner Bros., to create a similarly fashioned universe based on characters of DC Comics. Though these films received a mixed reception, it seemed clear to audiences that there was no sign of a decline in popularity for the genre.

But it’s clear the decline has begun … if not in quantity, then perhaps in quality.

The once-untouchable MCU has already had two films be released to “rotten” scores on the popular website Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a perceived lack in quality by fans, while the DC Extended Universe has had its last five films critically bombed at the box office as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, studio interference, massively high budgets, or even simple lack of interest by the audience.

These recent trends have led to the formation of an idea labeled “superhero fatigue,” a concept created to explain why audiences are suddenly becoming bored with the numerous films and television series of the genre.

Mario Castillo, a recent Florida International University graduate and a fan of the genre since childhood, acknowledged the existence of the concept and has seen some of its effects.

“I think that superhero fatigue is real, I’ve definitely seen people getting tired of superhero movies, however, I don’t think everybody is there yet,” Castillo said. “For me, they’re my favorite form of escapism, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of superhero media.”

When it comes to determining the possible cause behind this fatigue, Castillo narrows it down to the fact that there are simply too many films and series coming out all at once. He suggested that both Marvel and DC could help prevent further disinterest by releasing a smaller amount of media per year and increasing the content’s quality.

“Another way I think studios might cure the fatigue would be to have fresher ideas for their superhero movies, like having different genres,” he said. “With Marvel, almost every movie is a different genre.”

Marvel Studios released “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” on May 5, featuring Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer and Pom Klementieff as Mantis, one of many superhero films to hit theaters this year. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.)

Ignacio Diaz, a current student at Florida International University, acknowledged the existence of fatigue, as well. For Diaz, his own fatigue of the genre started long before the recent trend with him claiming his disinterest in the genre “since before 2020.”

Like Castillo, Diaz offered his own insight into what has caused this recent disinterest in the popular genre, citing the overabundance of content released every year in not just this genre but the industry as a whole.

“I think the fatigue is largely caused by oversaturation, as well as repetitive boring scripts,” Diaz said. “It’s mainly an issue with current Hollywood blockbusters, not (just) limited to hero films. Though it should be noted that they were the primary money makers at the box office for a long time.”

As for possible solutions, Diaz believes the simplest options lie in more creative scripts that “would do worlds to help the issue,” as well as far lower budgets that “allow for more creative risks as studios aren’t gambling $300 million and want to stick to what works.”

Die-hard fans and audiences are not the only ones to either acknowledge or deny the existence of fatigue. Two high-ranking individuals – the respective presidents of Marvel and DC Studios – are in the same boat: Kevin Feige and James Gunn.

According to multiple outlets, Feige, who has been in charge of the studio and its cinematic universe since its inception, strongly believes that fatigue is not possible and claims audiences could not get tired of the stories told in both what has been released and what they have the opportunity to adapt in the future.

Meanwhile, Gunn, the recently appointed co-president of DC Studios, does acknowledge the existence of fatigue. But he doesn’t believe the audiences are getting bored with superheroes specifically, but rather the way the films are more focused on spectacle instead of heart.

While there is not one specific cure, the notion of fatigue has presented both studios with opportunities to help any further disinterest.

For Marvel, a recent report by thecosmiccircus.com claimed that the studio will be pushing in a “quality-over-quantity” perspective which means cutting down on the number of media released within a year after the recent varied reception to their latest releases.

Meanwhile, for DC, Gunn’s arrival to the studio also brings a completely rebooted universe of films that the director/producer promises will be far more unified in regard to continuity and storytelling.

Luca Fornoni is a senior at FIU and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Journalism. He mainly enjoys spending time with his family and friends as much as possible as well as watching and discussing movies.