Is Superhero Movie Fatigue Real ?

By Eddie Velasquez

As a collective, it is safe to conclude that modern society is the product of a moral evolution that has been percolating throughout the years, and in turn has developed into a more accepting and inclusive unit. A clear example is the acknowledgment and emergence of comic book culture and superheroes as massive sources of entertainment and larger-than-life icons of popular culture respectively. With movies being the main method of consumption, these franchises have proven extremely successful as a product with audiences of all ages, nationalities and genders. To a point where they have also been able to unload the “nerdy” classification and stigma they usually carry.

However, with such power of influence, reach, and success comes great responsibility in order to maintain these films in a state of commercial and critical success. With close to 30 movies, divided by roughly 4 different production studios, it is fair to question the popularity, both critically and commercially of these films. Because of this I have done some research to try and gauge the impact of these films and ultimately determine whether they have experienced a steady flow of success or a decline as new iterations are released.

Before you read any further:
While the films released recently and are still enjoying a healthy viewership, this data is an accurate projection since films tend to make the most money during opening week.

Based on the 3 most recent superhero films: Captain America Civil War, X-men Apocalypse and Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, and the “cinematic universe” they belong to; I have decided to analyze and compare them with their most immediate predecessors.

Captain America Franchise: Captain America Winter Soldier – Captain America Civil War

Commercially, both films had tremendous budgets at their disposal and managed to be healthily profitable. In comparison:
Winter Soldier Budget (excluding marketing): $170,000,000 Worldwide Box Office:
$714,401,889 Gross Profit:
Civil War Budget (excluding marketing):
$250,000,000 Worldwide Box Office:
$1,108,180,457 Gross Profit:
Winner: Civil War. The film generated an impressive amount of revenue despite being the third in the Captain America franchise proving that the demand is immense.

Critically, both films generally enjoyed universal praise surpassing the reception for the first entry in the series. In comparison:

Winter Soldier Average Rating (Critics):
7.5/10 Average Rating (Audience):
Civil War Average Rating (Critics):
7.6/10 Average Rating (Audience):
Winner: Civil War. Barely edging out its predecessor in this category, this adaptation of the popular comic book storyline proved to be successfully adapted to the big screen.

Conclusion: While his future is uncertain, this beloved character has definitely enjoyed a steady flow of success and has shown no signs of slowing down both commercially and critically.

X-Men Franchise: X-Men Days of Future Past – X-Men Apocalypse

Commercially, these two films roughly stack up to the previous comparison in terms of budget. While Apocalypse is still in theaters, most movies make their money in the first couple of weeks so the number provided serves as a fairly accurate indicator.
Days of Future Past Budget (excluding marketing):
$200,000,000 Worldwide Box Office:
Gross Profit:
Apocalypse Budget (excluding marketing):
$178,000,000 Worldwide Box Office:
$286,523,232 Gross Profit:
Winner: Days of Future Past. By almost quadrupling its production budget in profit, the second part in the “new” X-men trilogy proved to be a juggernaut at the box office.

Critically, there seems to be a complete dissonance between both films, with a good follow up to the first installment in the trilogy and a less than stellar conclusion.
Days of Future Past Average Rating (Critics):
7.6/10 Average Rating
Apocalypse Average Rating (Critics):
5.6/10 Average Rating (Audience):
Winner: Days of Future Past. Once again, a strong adaptation of a popular comic book storyline proved to be an incredible hit with critics and audiences alike.

Conclusion: This franchise managed to recover after a tumultuous trilogy with Days of Future Past at the helm wiping away some of the inconsistencies in the universe and recovering the saga’s credibility. However, Apocalypse’s review scores and box office numbers prove that perhaps the X-Men are better off taking a break from the silver screen.

DC Cinematic Universe: Man of Steel – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Commercially, these two movies experienced otherworldly success despite being introduced into the fold years after their competitors.

Man of Steel Budget (Excluding marketing):
$225,000,000 Worldwide Box Office:
$667,999,518 Gross Profit:
Batman v Superman Budget (Excluding marketing):
$250,000,000 Worldwide Box Office:
$867,419,773 Gross Profit:
Winner: Batman v Superman. By fulfilling the childhood dream of many, the two DC icons managed to draw in record-breaking crowds throughout the world.

Critically, these are by far the most polarizing films out of the three franchises analyzed, both epitomizing the concept of “mixed reviews.”
Man of Steel Average Rating (Critics):
Average Rating (Audience):
Batman v Superman Average Rating (Critics):
4.9/10 Average Rating (Users):
Winner: Man of Steel. While both movies experienced a mixed bag of opinions, Man of Steel was the winner in this category. This suggests a disconnection between the massive box office numbers and the average/below average review scores these two films achieved.

Conclusion: This franchise/cinematic universe, just like X-Men, seems to find itself in limbo. While both films have shown flashes of incredible potential that can differentiate them from direct competitors and have also demonstrated their ability to collect astronomical amounts of money, one can only wonder if audiences will continue to sit through many more movies that display low average ratings.

Ultimately, after analyzing some of these figures, it can be concluded that the only franchise that is truly in decline and has shown its wear on fans is X-Men displaying a much lower critical reception and mediocre box office performance. However, there is an argument to be made for the DC cinematic universe being in peril of suffering a similar destiny due to the apparent apathy audiences have displayed towards the two movies analyzed. Lastly, on the Marvel front, while some critics have noticed a decline in quality, the overwhelming majority seems to embrace these films as a cultural phenomenon.

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