Superhero Fatigue: What is it, Why Does it Exist, and How It’s Ruining My Life

With Marvel’s new release of “Dr. Strange” and the upcoming releases of “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Black Panther” and “Justice League,” I’ve realized something that is equal parts tragic, surprising and borderline blasphemous: I genuinely don’t care. With the abundance of superhero flicks that have been released in the past ten years, I have fallen victim to what many refer to as superhero fatigue.

Simply put, superhero fatigue is the mindset that makes superhero movie fans grow tired of the genre as a whole. This primarily is due to a quantity problem rather than a quality problem. Most of these movies that have been released recently have had a similar quality, being reviewed well by critics and audiences alike, but there have been far too many releases to distinguish them from each other. To put it into perspective, since “Iron Man”’s release in 2008, Marvel has released almost thirty movies, with DC releasing fifteen since “Batman Begins” in 2005. While these do differ in quality (mainly DC movies), that’s almost forty-five movies of the same genre and content in the past ten years. It’s overwhelming for many audiences and causes many to tire of these types of movies.

There are many reasons why this happens for both major studios, but there are a couple of reasons that rise above the other as being particularly tiring. With the exception of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” franchise, DC Comics have released a plethora of over-hyped low-quality cinematic flops. The hype for movies such as “Suicide Squad,” “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was incredibly high, but ultimately failed in quality with rotten tomatoes scores of 26 percent, 55 percent and 27 percent, respectively. This has created a negative image for DC Comics’ movies, and has created fatigue for the viewers.

The case for Marvel movies is completely different, and a bit more complicated as the quality of Marvel movies as remained consistently high since the Avenger’s Initiative has come into fruition. There is one primary reason as to why Marvel movies are starting to create a fatigue amongst its viewers: all of their movies follow the same formula. The formula is as follows:

  • Step one: create an origin story.

Every superhero franchise that Marvel has created has began with an origin story that does the same thing time and time again. The protagonist starts off in rough times and needs a way to get back to their self-proclaimed greatness. Due to unlikely circumstances, they gain some sort of power that causes them to excel beyond their wildest dreams. They need to adapt to their newfound powers after losing their first fight. Finally, they get used to their powers and defeat the villain that conquered them in the initial fight, everyone is happy.

  • Step two: if necessary, create a sequel where the hero rethinks their powers. Everything is going well for the heroes until something terrible happens. This tragic event causes the hero to rethink what they’ve been doing causing them to go on a self-reflection journey, ultimately deciding that the world needs them.
  • Step three: shoehorn all of the heroes into one moronathon of a movie where they fight each other, learn to work as a team, and eventually save the world through waves of redundant enemies. This was the case in both Avengers Movies, many X-Men movies and “Captain America: Civil War” (which, let’s face it, was Avengers 3). While the X-Men movies and Civil War leave out the waves of redundant enemies, they follow the first two steps, but just fight each other more before figuring out their problems.
  • (Optional) Step four: create a movie where the heroes get over their PTSD from the events of the big battle.

Since all of the Marvel franchises follow this formula, it’s easy to know what to expect with literally every release. There is also an extreme lack of tension in all of the movies because the primary heroes aren’t going to die and the Earth isn’t going to come to an end. The cinematic universe isn’t going to kill Thor or Captain America, it just won’t happen. This creates a sense of redundancy and takes away from the tension that these movies strive to create.

Ultimately, the sheer redundancy of modern-era superhero flicks leaves many not caring about the next release in the genre and ultimately leaves me more excited for Oscar-baity movies like “Arrival” and “La La Land,” which, in all fairness, look incredible. It’s created a depressing state of nonchalant-ness for nerds everywhere towards the abundance of superhero movies that continue to be released.