S ix of the top 20 highest-grossing films of all time have one thing in common: They’re superhero movies.
Marvel’s recently released “Avengers: Infinity War” looks like it will soon join that list, as a part of a long stream of superhero movies that has inundated pop culture over the last decade.
Nineteen Marvel movies since 2008’s “Iron Man” and five DC extended universe movies since 2013 have trained the average movie audience to expect at least a couple superhero movies every year.
“I feel like, for people who are fans of superhero movies, it gives them something to look forward to,” said Anthony Scalzo, vice president of Plattsburgh State’s Film Club.
It begs the question: Will the cycle ever end?
The short answer is probably not.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s movies have made a total worldwide box office gross of more than $16 billion, with “Infinity War” still adding to that number, while the five DCEU movies have made a global gross of nearly $4 billion.
“I think that it has become primarily a money-maker,” said Joe Lewis, president of the PSUC Film Club. “There’s an abundance of films with basically the same storyline.”
The often formulaic storylines of these blockbuster movies has led to some Hollywood actors to look down upon Marvel or DC actors for “selling out,” an issue that “Guardians of the Galaxy” actress Zoe Saldana confronted in a recent interview with UK magazine Net-A-Porter.
“People in this industry look down at Marvel,” Saldana, who plays the green-skinned alien Gamora, said in the interview. “They think we’re selling out. They should be more cognizant about what a superhero means to a child.”
Lewis echoed Saldana’s sentiment.
“When ‘Black Panther’ came out, it’s amazing that a black kid can look up to T’Challa and want to be that person,” Lewis said. “It’s amazing that when ‘Captain Marvel’ comes out, there’s going to be little girls that look up to Captain Marvel.”
While the movies are almost always a guaranteed hefty deposit to the bank, critic’s responses have been mixed over time.
Marvel has in general fared better in this regard, with an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 84 percent across its 19 titles, with DC averaging 48 percent across its five.
Both have outliers, though, with “The Incredible Hulk” and “Thor: The Dark World,” scoring 67 and 66 percent respectively, while “Wonder Woman” snagged 92 percent.
In Lewis’ mind, the critical aspect isn’t always the most important part, though it still plays into things.
“When you watch a superhero movie, you’re like, ‘Ah, that was fun,’” Lewis said. “A lot of it is to get away from everyday life, and I think that’s changed how people see movies, but it’s still an art form because you still have to tell the story well.”
Studios certainly seem to think that the trend will continue to amuse audiences.
Marvel and DC each have five more movies slated in the next three years alone, and though Scalzo isn’t a fan of the genre, he sees why those who are keep coming back.
“Although superhero movies tend to be repetitive, that doesn’t take away from the characters in the film,” Scalzo said. “Good acting is good acting.”
So whether it’s to watch the Earth’s mightiest heroes or the Justice League, as long as people keep flocking to theaters, studios likely won’t stop.
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org