If anyone is able to have an opinion on superhero fatigue, it’s probably James Gunn. The co-CEO of DC Studios recently spoke with RollingStone about the issue. James Gunn has worked closely with both Marvel and DC and has had successful projects with both. That being said, he’s not so entrenched in that world that he can’t see beyond it. Now that James Gunn sits next to Peter Safran at DC, he has to take a leveled approach to this issue if he wants the company to succeed.
Recently, criticism of superhero movies has become more in vogue. For a while, it seemed like whenever a new Marvel project dropped, it was met with immediate praise, and anyone who picked them apart was considered pretentious. Even Martin Scorsese caught some backlash for criticizing the glut of superhero movies. After Marvel’s discombobulated Phase 4, it’s clear that the old formula isn’t working as well as it used to.
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So is “superhero fatigue” really a thing? Here’s what Gunn had to say:
I think there is such a thing as superhero fatigue. I think it doesn’t have anything to do with superheroes. It has to do with the kind of stories that get to be told, and if you lose your eye on the ball, which is character. We love Superman. We love Batman. We love Iron Man. Because they’re these incredible characters that we have in our hearts. And if it becomes just a bunch of nonsense onscreen, it gets really boring. But I get tired by most spectacle films, by the grind of not having an emotionally grounded story. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether they’re superhero movies or not. If you don’t have a story at the base of it, just watching things bash each other, no matter how clever those bashing moments are, no matter how clever the designs and the VFX are, it just gets tiring, and I think that’s very, very real.
If you look at which superhero movies have been doing well lately and which ones haven’t, Gunn makes some cogent points. Critics love movies like Joker and Loganwhile they aren’t so big on Thor: Love And Thunder. The major difference in these movies is character. Thor: Love And Thunder opts to focus on VFX thanks to the fact that it was largely shot during covid. Joker and Logan are basically character studies.
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