Superhero movies have become very popular in the last decade. The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe has created a genre of its own, with movies starring the likes of Iron Man and Batman raking in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office each year. But are superhero movies courting wider audiences or simply catering to their existing fanbases?
Reasons For Superhero Movie Popularity
The success of superhero movies can be attributed to a few factors. First, they bring together different characters and stories in a way that appeals to viewers of all ages. This is especially true given the ascension of superhero films as part of the larger pop culture landscape. In addition, superhero films offer a blend of action and adventure, as well as their trademark good-versus-evil storylines – which are appealing to many people.
Another factor is the increased focus on special effects, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These effects help to bring the superhero action to life and make viewers feel as if they are in the world of the movie. Additionally, the franchise approach adopted by Marvel and DC has helped build up a large fan base. And as these fans have followed the storylines of their favorite characters for years, new superheroes are presented as part of this larger narrative – bringing in more viewers.
Data On Superhero Movie Audience
A study by Rentrak revealed that the audience demographic for superhero movies is overwhelmingly male. The study showed that the 18-24 age group makes up the largest percentage of the audience, with 79% of viewers falling into this demographic. The next largest age group is 25-39, making up 13% of the viewers. Additionally, the study showed that the average viewing audience for superhero movies is predominantly white, male and young.
It also revealed that audiences tend to be more diverse when it comes to female superheroes. Marvel’s Black Widow movie and DC’s Wonder Woman franchise have both had success in bringing in a more balanced audience – meaning that the traditional portrayal of white, male heroes is starting to become less common.
Experts have varying views on the success of superhero movies. Some argue that they are simply catering to an existing fan base and not attracting new audiences. Consequently, this creates a cycle of viewings from the same audiences and these movies fail to reach more potential viewers.
However, others believe that superhero movies are providing escapism for viewers and that this is what attracts a wider audience. As Dr. Peggy Kern, a professor of media studies, puts it, “there is something comforting about seeing a larger-than-life hero come to the rescue in times of trouble. People can find hope in these stories that would otherwise be hard to come by.”
Evaluation Of The Effect Of Superhero Movies
It is difficult to ascertain the exact effect that superhero movies have had on audiences. However, it is clear that they have had an impact on viewers of all ages and backgrounds, with the increased diversity of characters allowing for greater representation in movies.
In terms of box office figures, superhero movies are consistently among the highest-grossing and the success of Marvel and DC Extended Universe continually draw new audiences. While it is true that these audiences tend to have similar traits in terms of age and gender, this is only part of the equation.
It could be argued that the success of superhero movies lies in their ability to appeal to a wide range of viewers, offering up a mix of emotions, excitement and adventure that few other movie genres can provide.
Problems With Superhero Movies
Despite their success, there are some problems with superhero movies. Firstly, the large budgets mean that the focus is often on large-scale action and explosive set pieces, rather than on character development or meaningful storylines. This can lead to a sense of “sameness” among superhero movies, with audiences feeling as though they’ve seen the same story before.
In addition, there have been allegations of the over-sexualisation of female characters in superhero movies, with some pointing to a male gaze element in some scenes. This, combined with the lack of diversity in the casting of superheroes, has led to criticism from some quarters.
However, it should be noted that the landscape is changing, with more female-led superhero movies and greater diversity in terms of casting.
Ethics Of Superhero Movies
As superhero movies become increasingly popular, viewers and critics alike have begun to question the underlying moral issues of these films. For example, are superhero movies promoting an ethical framework that viewers should follow, or simply providing an entertaining spectacle?
When looking at the death of a villain, or an action scene that portrays violence in a positive light, these questions become even more pertinent. Some argue that these movies are simply providing entertainment, while others suggest that they should be held up as a model for ethical behaviour.
It would seem that the answer is somewhere in the middle. Superhero movies can and should provide an entertaining escape for viewers, but they should also promote a set of values that everyone can aspire to.
Legacy Of Superhero Movies
As superhero movies become more prevalent in our cultural landscape, it is worth examining the legacy that they will leave. For example, will these movies have a lasting impact when it comes to representation in film and television – or will the genre simply be a flash in the pan?
It is difficult to answer this question with any certainty, but what is clear is that superhero movies have already had an impact. From inspiring viewers to pursue careers in the arts, to providing a platform for female and minority characters to take centre stage, superhero movies have gone beyond providing simple entertainment.
In fact, they could be seen as a modern-day mythology, with their themes of heroic deeds, justice and morality providing a blueprint for how we should live our lives.
Movies Vs. Television
When it comes to superhero movies and television, the two mediums have always been different. Movies offer viewers escapism, as well as larger-than-life action sequences, while TV series tend to focus more on character development and slower-paced storylines.
In terms of viewership, movies remain more popular than television. However, TV series have a tendency to draw in audiences for longer periods of time, as viewers follow the storylines of the characters over extended arcs of episodes.
When looking at the success of Marvel and DC, it is clear that both companies have found success on both the big screen and small screen. This dual-approach has allowed for the expansion of storylines and characters and has helped to bring in more viewers.
Cultural Significance Of Superhero Movies
As superhero movies become more popular, they have also become an important part of the cultural landscape. From inspiring debates on representation to sparking conversations about morality and ethics, these movies have become a source of discussion and reflection in ways that few other genres can.
A great example of this is the Black Panther movie – which was praised for its celebration of African culture and its exploration of identity, politics and community. This type of impact is powerful and it shows us that superhero movies can, and should, be more than just a spectacle.
Representation In Superhero Movies
The representation of characters in superhero movies has always been an issue, with accusations of tokenism and over-sexualisation being levelled at the genre.
However, things are steadily improving, with more female and minority characters being given larger roles than ever before. In addition, movies are beginning to be more diverse in terms of story and themes, with themes such as mental health and identity being explored more deeply.
This shift towards more balanced representation can only be seen as a positive, and it is something that we should continue to strive towards.