Superhero Fatigue Syndrome – Are People Finally Tired Of The Genre

Superhero films seemed like a childish thing back in the 90s when most batman movies were being released. Then came the Hulk, Spider-Man, and Batman trope of the new era; Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy with Christian Bale and Heath Ledger doing a phenomenal job of playing Batman and The Joker. This was when the MCU got into the competition, bringing us Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.

At the end of the last decade, the superhero-verse became so huge that it overshadowed every other genre with huge numbers. But everything that becomes huge, has a limit of how long it can attract the audience’s attention. And that’s what has happened with this fandom as well, bringing in a superhero fatigue syndrome; at least it has with me and a lot of other fans I know around me.

The Absurdity of DC

Despite DC being the first to nail the art of superhero movies, the cinematic universe seemed to lose its touch in the new era of superheroes, starting with the release of Henry Cavil’s superman. The idea behind the movie wasn’t bad, it was amazing. But where the movie missed the mark was its plot, which seemed like a disorganized mess, especially to those who have never read the comics.

If the blunder were just limited to Man of Steel, it may have even been forgiven. But that’s not where it ended. Batman v Superman was a somewhat better movie, compared to what was about to come next. Wonder Woman is where the franchise almost redeemed itself, then went a little down again with Aquaman, and then came DCEU’s biggest blunder so far: Justice League. JL is a favorite among every comic book and animation fan, yet when DCEU had the chance to come back with their biggest movie yet, they flopped at it so badly, the entire cinematic universe became a joke.

Though the Snyder Cut of Justice League is yet to be seen, although it might be too late for that now. Recently, Wonder Woman 1984 was released on HBO, as it can’t be launched in cinemas due to Covid-19. Yet everyone already seems too tired to even bother watching it, given the repeated themes, the disappointing plots, and the predictable action sequences.

The MCU Overload

Where DCEU was failing to make an impression, Marvel seemed to have it all in its control, introducing new superheroes and doing crossovers right out of every fan’s dreams. Endgame even got us the biggest, most ambitious crossover any movie has ever dared to reach. But Endgame also led to MCU losing one of its most-loved protagonist: Tony Stark’s Iron Man, not-to-mention Captain America’s retirement that followed. This alone led to a lot of fans losing faith in the MCU’s ability to keep going as successfully.

Although the 4th phase of MCU is well underway with the release of Wanda Vision, fans have become skeptical of whether Marvel will again introduce the same predictable plots and stories that are now becoming too repetitive, or take a new approach to their movies now that most of the original Avengers are either retired or dead. One of the favorites to emerge from the third phase of MCU was Black Panther, but with Chadwick Boseman passing away (RIP), the future of Black Panther seems uncertain. Reports suggest that the directors are planning to introduce a new plot, without recasting the role of T’challa, to honor the actor and without compromising on the legacy Boseman introduced in the Marvel Universe.

The Arrow-verse

Looking at the cinematic universes of both DC and Marvel, CW didn’t get left behind either. With the release of Arrow came the official kick-off of DCU’s television universe. While Arrow may have been good in its beginning, some later seasons saw the show make some drastic blunders in the plot, making fans stop watching it. At the same time, The Flash was released to be part of the Arrow-verse. And while the show looked promising in its first season, it kind of… became absurd as it kept going; to the point that it stopped making any sense at all.

These two took so much of the attention that people stopped taking note of Superwoman and The Legends of Tomorrow at all. Having watched as much as I have of them, I can only say that they seem like low budget versions of a high-budget Justice League, except with a more understandable plot.

Netflix’s Marvel Shows

Netflix may have had 5 Marvel characters in its grasp, only three of them continued making an impression on fans i.e. Jessica Jones, The Punisher, and Daredevil. Although Luke Cage’s first season was nothing short of a phenomenon, when it came to the second season, the show failed to deliver. Becoming too chirpy, and too off-track with its theme. And then, of course, there’s Iron Fist, a show that had no sense whatsoever, neither with its plot nor with its characters.

But perhaps the biggest disappointment came when Netflix cancelled all of its Marvel shows, even the likes of Daredevil, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones, both of whom were thriving when it came to fan following. Why? Because Netflix has lost the rights to renew those characters, with them now belonging to MCU. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt these shows were refreshingly good, and canceling them means we no longer get to watch the quality content Netflix was providing us with regard to superhero shows.

The Revival of the Superhero Genre

All hope isn’t lost yet though, even if you feel tired of the genre at this point. One of the most refreshing shows to have released recently is The Umbrella Academy. The show follows a superhero trope, but with a more unique and some-what modern approach; giving us a deeper look at the characters’ childhoods and how it shaped their present lives, with an amazing soundtrack and an even better plot. The Umbrella Academy is renewed for a third season, which will introduce us to the Sparrow Academy, meaning the show still has a lot to offer when it comes to superheroes, and its plot; and none of it is predictable.

Speaking of revivals, The Boys on Amazon Prime has also not failed to impress when it comes to a more unique story. The show explores the idea of how superheroes can be the villains and those considered the villains, can be the real heroes. Although the fame surrounding the heroes reminds a bit of The Fantastic Four (not the 2016 version, no), with some heroes resembling descriptions like that of Aquaman, Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, etc. Yet the narrative with which they’re described, showing their ugly side, is what makes the show worth watching.

Even in the universes we love, there’s a lot more to come, so no need to be disappointed just yet. MCU’s phase four looks quite promising, even without the likes of Iron Man. Every movie in the plans could lead to the introduction of new comic-book characters, including Dr. Victor Von Doom, something every MCU fan has been waiting for eagerly. I mean, with Thanos gone, there needs to be a bigger villain to keep the Avengers in check, right? Plus all the rumors about the spider-verse need to have something good about them.

Coming to DC, Robert Pattinson’s Batman looks like a dream come true, that is, for anyone who wanted the dark, brooding side of Bruce Wayne. Although it remains to be seen how Pattinson fills in the role that Ben Affleck couldn’t quite fit into.

With all of this coming up, it’d be unfair to say that people really are tired of the entire genre. There’s obviously a lot more to come, and when it does, all of us will get excited again to watch it. We just need to wait and also hope that whatever comes next, doesn’t follow the same repetitive theme that every movie or show has had so far. All in all, there is a certain level of fatigue, yes. But to call it a syndrome might be somewhat unfair. There’s a need for new and fresh themes, and hopefully, we’ll get it in the upcoming advancements in the superhero universe.

Maha Abdul Rehman

A content writer and a psychology major, I procrastinate for 6 months or write consecutively. And I occasionally watch (see: obsess about) Football.

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