Why are Superhero Films so Popular? – by Ganem McIntyre & Antony Rossi


“Being someone who works at a movie theater, I know how crazy and insane opening weekend was for Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Living & Arts staff member Ganem McIntyre says, but the question is, why? Superhero movies have exploded in popularity recently, though they’ve been quite popular since the late ‘70s and ‘80s with the first of many superhero movies to come being DC’s Superman and DC’s Batman. Many more superhero movies have been written and produced since then with Marvel’s first real successes being 2000’s X-Men, 2002’s Spider-Man, and 2005’s Fantastic Four. Recently however, both Marvel and DC have really started to reboot their movies with more excitement and action, a lot of times straight from the comics. These action packed adventure stories are incredible fun for people of all ages, from small children to adults. With the release of 2000’s X-Men, superhero movies really seemed to take a turn for the better as this genre of movies has grown immensely in popularity.For us, the cinematic universes of both DC and Marvel have really been our favorite movie franchises for years, but these tales to astonish have been around for centuries. Though not necessarily superhero tales but some that definitely honed superhuman feats. One of our favorite stories to dwell upon is the story of David and Goliath. Goliath being the supersized superhuman villain of the story and David being the underestimated hero of the story. David managed to defeat the giant Goliath of Gath to prove he is worthy of being the future King of Israel. Goliath was actually reimagined as a Marvel villain later on. This is just one of many superhuman tales that we students read about in school and that inspired modern and past comics. Other important ones include the stories of Hercules, or Achilles, or even ones from the numerous myths created over time from old religions. These continue to be the first real foundations to superhero tales and comics, although now our fantasy heroes might be able to do more than take a punch or lift wicked heavy objects.

However, the fact of the matter is that these current superhero films that we have grown up with are absolutely thrilling, but the heroes are still people. You look and watch any number of superhero movies and a lot of the heroes you will watch will have either once been, or still are, completely human. Yes some of them are proclaimed as gods such as Thor or Superman or perhaps they’re androids like Vision, but hundreds of the characters in both DC and Marvel alike are geniuses like Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) or war veterans like Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Sam Wilson (Falcon). Others, like in the X-Men movies for instance, are mutants, but they are still people. It’s definitely interesting to believe that people just like us could make as big of a difference in the world that they do.

However it’s not just the characters or the history behind the stories, these movies are visually and emotionally impeccable. Especially nowadays as computer animation is becoming increasingly essential to films like these. Whether it’s the thrilling gore-filled fight scenes in many of these movies or television shows or the sudden streak of green running up Bruce Banner’s face when he starts to hulk out, computer graphics are being used, and they seem to be sewn together seamlessly. This CG is incredibly impressive considering it is hard to do well. DC however seems to have grips on the mind blowing practical effects as seen in the Dark Knight movies. Yes each style has their perks but both of these styles of special effects make a huge impact on the movie, but the movie would be nothing without a storyline to follow.

These storylines are mostly taken from the comics, but not just one single comic, the script writers always seem to take key elements from numerous comic stories that the character showed up in and pull them all together to create a masterpiece that showcases who the main character is perfectly. As seen in 2008’s Iron Man and 2012’s Avengers, Tony Stark is portrayed as the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” just as he is in the comics, though it does help that the franchises have great casting under their belt. Just look at how great DC did when they casted Heath Ledger as the Joker, that was a huge score as he played the role perfectly, some might say maybe a little too perfectly. Marvel also has had their fair share of scores when it comes to casting, such Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

In the end, the joy of superhero movies never dies. These movies are a genre in itself, the action packed fantasy films based off of the superhuman tales and stories we grew up with. The combination of all of this, the casts, the story, the history, and the visual thrills, is what makes us, the fans, always come back for more, whether it’s DC or Marvel, we love it.

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