Avengers: Infinity War producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige doesn’t believe superhero fatigue is settling in just yet. Comic book movies are now the backbone of the filmmaking industry, making up the vast majority of blockbuster releases. Four of 2017’s top 10 highest-grossing films were superhero-based movies – and only eight superhero films released last year. That’s much more than the number of superhero films that were hitting screens a decade ago. And it’s only going to get more crowded as time goes on.
At the moment, there are 11 comic book movies releasing in 2018 alone (it was 12 before 20th Century Fox delayed The New Mutants to 2019). Marvel Studios makes up three of those films, and those are arguably the most popular/successful. The studio used to put out two movies per year, but they’ve slowly crept up to three blockbuster releases per year, starting in 2017. Given that there’s practically one superhero movie per month of the year, and that each film occupies a significant portion of the news stream, it’s understandable for general audiences to feel superhero fatigue. However, that’s a notion that Feige fundamentally rejects – and it’s something that he continually seeks to combat as Marvel’s head honcho.
In an interview with Vulture for Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, Marvel’s Kevin Feige briefly touched on the subject of superhero movie fatigue while discussing his future at Marvel Studios beyond 2019 (after Avengers 4 hits theaters and concludes the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first saga).
“For years, predating the history of Marvel Studios itself, people asked me about superhero fatigue and if it was a fad or a phase. I say, if they’re all different, if they’re all special, nobody will get tired of these things before we at Marvel Studios will, since we live and breathe these things 24 hours a day. You make films like Thor: Ragnarok, like Homecoming, like Guardians of the Galaxy, certainly like Panther, and the upcoming Infinity War to keep it interesting and change it up. And we will continue to do that.”
Feige has made similar statements in the past, but given that superhero fatigue is a concern that continually arises, it’s worth mentioning again. After all, keeping movies fresh is arguably what piques the interest of general audiences who aren’t well-versed in the overarching narrative. And part of keeping movies fresh and interesting involves incorporating elements from various genres and sub-genres.
For instance, Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier is considered a political thriller, whereas Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is a comedic heist film. Then there’s Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming, which took a great deal of inspiration from ’80s John Hughes films and became a coming-of-age comedy. Plus, as Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok proves, taking risks certainly has its benefits, as long as those risks fit within the structured formula that’s made Marvel Studios successful in the first place.
Releasing three movies per year (not to mention the superhero films from all the other studios) won’t impinge the genre so long as they’re intriguing and different enough to keep viewers coming back, but almost a dozen superhero movies a year just might be a bit much for the average viewer, especially since there’s a record number of superhero TV shows on the air, too.