As a film obsessive and writer for about four years now, I’ve always acknowledged that there are only two names in Hollywood: Disney and Spielberg. Yes, there are plenty of other famous names like Marvel, Pixar, George Lucas and, in today’s world, Michael Bay, but those two are the ones that mean a hell of a lot to a hell of a lot of people spanning decades. Disney is of course an absolutely huge corporation, but Steven Spielberg is a man; you can get to know him and listen to what he says. Given his reputation, I think we should all listen to him.
If you want to find someone to blame for the blockbuster boom, then blame Spielberg (and Lucas). They started it off with Jaws and Star Wars and built it up through the 1980’s with franchises such as Back to the Future and Indiana Jones. Everything’s kinda gone a little crazy in the past decade with Hollywood becoming obsessed with these kind of movies, so back in 2013 the original duo predicted there would be an ‘implosion’ of blockbusters sooner or later where a string of them fail. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the ‘Berg got a little more specific, turning his attention to superhero movies.
We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.
He’s not wrong.
A lot of fuss is always being made about ‘superhero fatigue’ and whether it’ll start to kick in after the slew of upcoming Marvel and DC movies – or whether it already has. What we have to remember is that the western genre was around for decades before it dried up. Sure, we had Richard Donner’s Superman and Tim Burton’s Batman from the 70’s to the 90’s, but superhero movies have only really been a viable cash cow since Blade – only seventeen years ago, and there were a hell of a lot more westerns than there have been superhero movies. I really wouldn’t mind if this implosion happened sooner rather than later (it would certainly be interesting), but I think the reality is that superhero movies are here to stay. For now.
What’s more likely to happen isn’t a complete death but rather a more scaled-back operation. Back in the day, Pixar and Dreamworks were big dogs in Hollywood, as well as animated movies in general. Pixar is still a very successful studio and has a packed upcoming slate but Dreamworks hasn’t been so lucky, and it certainly seems to me as if the only animated movies apart from them that we’re seeing involve Minions. Perhaps in the 2020’s Marvel and DC will produce a movie every year or two and focus on quality rather than dominating the market with shared universes and big explosions, similar to how things were in the 2000’s.
Or perhaps Steven Spielberg is right. The blockbuster genre has been going strong since the 1980’s, but perhaps we’re living in its final age. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.