DCU fans have been waiting a long time for a movie to be proud of. It has been agonizing to watch movie after movie disappoint us. Man of Steel was a pessimistic misfire. Aquaman was milquetoast at best. Wonder Woman was met with great reception. However, most of that was washed away by the disastrous Wonder Woman 1984.
Then there was Batman vs. Superman and The Justice League. They were hackneyed, disjointed, and paced way too slowly. As far as being a fan goes, nothing has been more difficult to stay loyal to than the DCU. It has been inconsistent, the majority of the films have paled in comparison to what the MCU was putting out at the same time and the scandals surrounding them have left DC fans disenfranchised. In my opinion, the only consistent shining light has been the Shazam! series of movies.
The first Shazam! is a fun, coming of age superhero movie reminicent of classic movies like Big. It was also a big hit. against a $90,000,000.00 budget, the lesser known hero from the Golden Age of comics earned almost $366,000,000.00 worldwide at the box office. It was a success for everyone involved
Black Adam was the next movie to appear in the Shazam series. While I wasn’t a fan of the direction that was taken with one of the most malevolent antiheroes/villains in comic book history, the film itself was visually stunning with action sequences and fight scenes that kept you on the edge of your seat. The cast was also top notch. Veteran character actor Aldis Hodge (Best known for his role as Alec Hardison in the hit series Leverage) dominated the screen as the virtuous Hawkman and Pierce Brosnan brought a sympathetic sense of wisdom to the story as Dr. Fate. Yet Black Adam’s budget was a hefty $260,000,000.00 and only took in $393,000,000.00 When you factor in advertising and the take from the theater chains, Black Adam barely broke even before being shuffled to HBO MAX.
Now Shazam: Fury Of The Gods has hit theaters. I will make the bold claim that not only is this the best film that DC studios has ever put out, I will go on to say that it is the best Superhero film I’ve seen in years. Visually, it was beautiful. The plot was suspenseful, yet easy to follow. The casting was as good as you can get, especially with the antagonists of the film. The pragmatic nature of Helen Mirren’s character blended seamlessly with the cold vengeful nature of Lucy Liu and the idealistic, naive mindset of Rachel Zegler.
As good as the movie is, sadly nobody is willing to go see it. The budget was set at $125 million so it wasn’t as bloated as Black Adam. The problem is that it opened to a paltry $30,000,000.00 opening weekend and as of Wednesday night, thirteen days after the film’s release, they have yet to even approach the point of breaking even with this.
My nephew and I went to a viewing of the movie on Wednesday night and we were the only people in the theater. I know it was a Wednesday night, but we still expected to see some stragglers.
So, this leads me to wonder, why are Superhero films all of a sudden tanking at the box office? There are several factors that have come into play that make the future look bleak for our caped crusaders.
The Character Shazam Was Always An Outlier
While Shazam is a great character with a lot of iconic storylines that readers have enjoyed over the years, he has always been his own entity. Compared to the other more recognizable characters in the DC lineup, Shazam has been overlooked frequently. The fact that the New 52 launched back in 2011 without a Shazam book while C-List characters like Grifter, and The Blackhawks got major releases is still one of DC comic’s biggest blunders.
Marketing also didn’t help when it came to Fury Of The Gods. The marketing presence for the movie was nonexistent, leading to a lack of interest or general unawareness of the film even being released.
The Sun Is Setting On The Superhero Genre
It is in every human’s nature to be fickle and go with the herd no matter how individualistic they are. Bell Bottom Jeans became a thing of the past. Frosted tips stayed in the nineties. Types of food even go the way of the dodo (TRIX Yogurt, anyone?) Movies are not immune to this phenomenon. It wasn’t too long ago when Westerns were dominating the big screen.
People got tired of Westerns and the seventies ushered in gritty, morose, bleak films such as Taxi Driver, The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange. Soon those films ceded to the super optimistic and patriotic films that built the eighties. Indie Films got viewers through the nineties. Here we are today, in the Superhero Era. After thousands upon thousands of hours of content, the average viewer has become exhausted and overwhelmed.
You need a scorecard to keep up with the rapid pace at which new material is released. A lot of the content is watered down and not worth giving a second look. This effects the genre by turning fans away from quality content such as the Shazam! franchise and everything that is set to come after it. This is the way the industry works, and that is the only thing about the movie industry that will never change.
The Final Takeaway
While Fury of the God’s box office performance clearly indicates that superhero movies or on the downward trend, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will go away completely. It just means that the studios will have to be more careful about which properties they deem to be deserving of treatment on the big or even small screen. For example, James Gunn may want to put a pin in his adaptation of The Authority and focus on something that fans actually want to see. We also have to wonder what is destined to take over movie theaters in the Superhero Genre’s wake. Judging by the hype of the upcoming Mario Movie, I see a lot of Nintendo characters getting ready to ask Mr. Demille for their closeup.
Then, the cycle begins again.
What do you think geek faithful? Do you agree? Disagree? sound off in the comments section! If you would like to hear more about this subject, please tune in on Saturday night at 10 p.m. EST for the Geek News Gauntlet on Youtube. www.youtube.com/geeknewsnow
Thank you for reading. When I am not writing, I enjoy spending time with my Wife Barbara, my Three Year Old Daughter, Frances, and my loyal Hound Marbles. Stay Geeky Everybody!