It should come as no surprise that the film industry is one of the biggest entertainment industries in existence. There are different industries all over the world but none is arguably more iconic than the glamorous heights of Americas Hollywood. Year after year more and more money is pumped into making bigger and bigger blockbuster which often make millions, even billions in return. As such it often tailors itself to current popular themes. Often looking back a certain era will stink of a certain genre, it began with the Westerns between the 1960s and 70s, it moved on to sci-fi and fantasy, then in the 80s and 90s we saw countless action films. Today we are in the age of the superhero movie, and with several of them coming out every year it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.
But the question is why has it become so popular? Why can’t people seem to get enough of it? And when will it end?
Of course, we don’t know when it’ll end but its popularity has lasted a while now. Superhero films aren’t exactly a new thing, serials were created in the 50s, Batman and Robin starring Adam West and Burt Ward came to the cinema in 1966, then of course there was the first big budget entry Superman in 1978. This was the first film to really show that good movies could be made using comic book hero properties and as such it received 3 sequels, though after Superman II the quality, and as such the popularity waned. There wasn’t really another serious entry until 1989 when Tim Burton’s Batman was released but once again the same thing happened in the same number of sequels. The current wave of popularity arguably began with the first big title entry from Marvel Comics, X-Men in the year 2000. After X-Men came Spider-Man in 2002 and then things really kicked off, superheroes were back and this time they meant business.
The success of the genre continued to grow and it took its next leap when Marvel Comics set up their own production company, giving them creative control over some of their own properties and immediately began building up to one of the biggest changes in cinema that we’ve seen in a long time. In the year 2012 they released Avengers, a crossover between superheroes the likes fans had only dreamed of, something they made clear through ticket sales. This was the birth of the cinematic universe, where different films cross over, carry on from each other and tie in in ways that have never previously realised. It means that you can effectively see something like four sequels in a year and if you’d like to know what is going on with Iron Man in the next film then you’re going to have to make sure you’ve watched the latest Captain America film to know. In short, these films are popular because you need to keep up and as long as they keep the story going we’re likely to be suckered into the next one.