An Embarrassment of Superhero Movies


The Pick My Movie Tag is back, guys, and it won’t be the last time this year. This go-round, J-Dub of Dubsism nominated me (thank you, J-Dub!) because backsies are not only acceptable but encouraged. The challenge, should I choose to accept it, is to review a movie everyone likes but I can’t stand. While I do have some possibilities in that regard, my larger and more ongoing problem has to do with not just individual movies but almost an entire genre.

Simply put, I am sick and tired of superhero movies. With a few exceptions, whenever I see trailers for them my eyes glaze over and I either sink into lethargy or my mind wanders elsewhere. Or, if I’m watching YouTube, I employ various tech-savvy methods to bypass them altogether.

Me when I see a superhero movie trailer. (GIPHY)

(On a side note, shame on YouTube for putting a skip button on unskippable ads. I get that it’s probably a revenue thing but it’s a dirty trick. Anywhoo…)

Once upon a time my view of superheroes was much rosier. I used to love watching Super Friends on TV as a little kid, the Adam West Batman TV show is sublimely campy, and Christopher Reeve as Superman was brilliant. Well, Superman III is much less than brilliant and Superman IV is hilariously bad, but Christopher Reeve will always be Superman for me, although I have a lot of respect for George Reeves as well.


I’m not above a good Batman flick, as long as it’s not of the Joel Schumacher variety. The 1966 Adam West film is, of course, smashing good fun. Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Jack Nicholson brought their own brand of dark camp. Val Kilmer wasn’t too shabby a Dark Knight, either.

We also can’t forget the Christopher Nolan movies, which respected the lore while adding new dimensions to the Batman canon, with the title character played superbly by the ever-versatile Christian Bale. The Batman with Robert Pattinson is also very well-done, playing up Batman’s inner torture and loneliness.


Plus there are the iconic X-Men and Spider-Man series from the 2000s, which by and large dealt with ordinary people learning how to navigate the world with extraordinary powers.

Then there’s Patty Jenkins’s 2017 Wonder Woman film, which, like Nolan’s Batman films, brought new dimensions to the Wonder Woman character while hitting all the familiar points, not to mention it’s gorgeously shot and wonderfully acted by Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Wonder Woman 84 might not be so hot, but we’ll always have 2017.


These movies are fun for so many reasons. The gadgets, the quips, the origin stories, the triumph of good against evil, and in a lot of cases, the romance.

This might seem funny, because a lot of superhero movies nowadays are rife with gadgets, quips, origin stories, romance and the triumph of good against evil, so what is it about them that leaves me cold? It can be boiled down to three reasons:

They’re too much alike.

Superhero movies can be as predictable as musical biopics. Characters suit up. They trade quips. Buildings and other landmarks get smashed. Oversized animals or monsters roar. A lot. People fly through the air, whether deliberately or because someone lays the smackdown on them. There will be at least one crisis of faith. There is at least one cocky smile or steely-eyed stare. Someone laughs, evilly or otherwise. There may or may not be a Girl Boss somewhere. Ergo, there isn’t much that distinguishes these movies from each other.

The gatekeeping.


There seems to be an unwritten rule among some superhero aficionados that seeing one film isn’t enough. In order to be a true fan, all the films in a universe must be taken in (These same people often bristle at the suggestion that these films are formulaic). Plus, Hollywood has an unfortunate habit of calling people sexists, racists and so on if they don’t like a film, even if their reasons are valid. Well-poisoning doesn’t exactly inspire brand loyalty.

There are SO many of them.


Since the release of The Shadow Strikes in 1937, Hollywood has put out superhero movies, but not every year and not a terribly high number. From the thirties until around the sixties, most of these films were relatively low-budget and considered a niche product. Prestige and budgets started to ramp up later, sometimes with great results (Superman, 1978) and other times, not so great (Captain America, 1990).

2004, though, is when things started to change, with five big-budget superhero movies released, and the numbers kept climbing until 2019, which saw a whopping ten of these movies shown to the public. Since then, the MCU releases at least three or four movies a year, with the DCU trailing at possibly two a year. They’re obviously the big dogs in the superhero genre, although there might be more, seeing as some see the term, “superhero” as nebulous. I don’t completely agree, though (Looking at you, WikipediaThe A-Team and Dungeons and Dragons aren’t superhero movies.).


Weariness, like misery, must love company, because the general public also seems to be growing tired of superhero films. As Geeky Sparkles of Clownfish TV pointed out a couple of months ago, box office returns are starting to dwindle, and there doesn’t seem to be as much energy around these movies. No one is safe, either. Variety recently noted that a lot of superhero movies are now seeing big declines in ticket sales after their first week, especially if a movie isn’t the first in its franchise. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, for instance, saw a 49% drop, while Thor: Love and Thunder took an almost 70% hit. Yeouch.

I can attest to the sophomore slump myself. When I went to see Shazam: Fury of the Gods back in March, there were six other people in the theater besides me, and every one of them were up and down and in and out of the auditorium the whole time. My guess is that they were bored, and if that’s the case I can’t blame them. While the movie has its fun moments, it comes across as hackery–I facepalmed when Philadelphia got trapped under a giant dome. It’s also a two-hour long Skittles commercial. Groan (Read my Substack review here).

Plugged In

How can superhero movies improve? Well, for starters, Hollywood needs to stop making these films for five years or so, cold turkey, and give audiences time to miss them. Then when the five years are up. Hollywood should drastically reduce its output of superhero movies so they don’t hit saturation points with audiences. However, since Hollywood is extremely unlikely to go this route (the MCU alone made 3.19 billion dollars in 2019), they need to make these characters more relatable, tone down the Girl Boss stuff, and stop vilifying audiences for expressing their opinions.

Will my opinion of superhero films ever change? Who knows. If Christopher Nolan or Gal Gadot are involved I might take a gander, but until then, my general answer is meh.

Since this is a tag post, certain customs must be observed, and you all know that means I gotta give out with…

The Tag Rules

  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.
  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.
  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
  • Have fun!

And now for the nominees and their various tasks. Drum roll please…

Have fun, people. I’ll be waiting to see what you come up with. 😉

All right, another review is coming out on Sunday. Thanks for reading, all…

If you’re enjoying what you see on Taking Up Room, please look for additional content on Substack, where you’ll find both free and subscriber-only articles. I publish every Wednesday and Saturday.

12 thoughts on “An Embarrassment of Superhero Movies

      1. No worries, as you say this tag has taken off so its hard to keep track of who hasn’t been tagged… So I have a proposal for you, I do this tag as already have an idea and your new taggee can do my previous tag of… “Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to review a movie that’s part of a franchise or series, preferably a film they haven’t seen yet. ” Deal??


      1. Can I nominate Jillian at the Classic Film Connection with her favourite episode(s) of Diagnosis Murder. She wrote two lovely informative comments for me about this when I reviewed it, so I think she’s definitely itching to write about it herself… what do you think?? Do I tell her or do you..

        Liked by 1 person

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