Mark Millar, the creator of Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Wanted, Supercrooks, and Civil War recently shared he believes that the superhero movie genre ended with Avengers: Endgame, but claims that Marvel and DC are trying to course correct after a number of subpar entries.
Millar recently spoke with the New York Times about his upcoming live action adaptation The Chosen One on Netflix, which is based on his American Jesus comic book series.
While discussing the series, he also touched on the history of the superhero movie genre saying, “These movies generally weren’t very good prior to 1999. They were usually made by people who didn’t understand or care about the material, with two exceptions, Richard Donner with Superman and Tim Burton with Batman.”
He continued, “So it was amazing in 1999 when Marvel cracked the code and made these things great. It wasn’t just that the technology caught up to the material — it was that the people who made these movies treated them with real dignity.”
However, the then shared that the genre ended with Endgame, “[The genre] had a great run, and kind of ended in 2019 with Avengers: Endgame. That felt like the last truly great superhero movie.”
As for why he believes it ended with Endgame despite a plethora of Marvel Studios productions as well as DC films coming out since then, he explained, “Everything since then … I feel that the people involved haven’t loved the material the way that Sam Raimi loves Spider-Man, or Christopher Nolan [who] read 50 years worth of Batman comics before he started doing Batman.”
While he believes the genre ended with Avengers: Endgame, he does think that Marvel and DC are attempting to course correct, “I think it will come back. These movies made too much money for them to fail.”
“What I know from talking to friends at DC and Marvel is there’s a massive course-correct being planned, they need to get it back on track. Getting some people with an interesting voice again is critical,” he said.
He then asserted, “Every [director] who did a superhero movie for the first 10-15 years had success on the entertainment scene before that.”
Finally, Millar concluded, “And unexpected choices were made, as opposed to just jobbing directors who treated it like any other gig.”
Millar is not alone in his assertion that the superhero movie genre is over. Prolific Batman and Punisher writer Chuck Dixon shared to Facebook back in June, “The superhero cycle had a good run but it’s over.”
He elaborated on this while speaking to Bounding Into Comics, “Every movie cycle ends. Westerns give way to spies who give way to horror and on and on. The superhero genre has had a extraordinarily long run.”
From there, he pointed to a number of different factors, “But a number of factors have contributed to drop in interest for comic book based content: Oversaturation, inconsistent quality, and Hollywood’s restricted access to the Chinese market.”
He also put the blame firmly on DC and Marvel and their parent companies, “Both Disney and Warners are to blame as well. Marvel fans had to put up with a steady assault of woke content, an overbearing amount of comedy included in material, a general decline in the quality of effects and, most damaging, a deliberate departure from the source material at every opportunity.”
“DC screwed the pooch by constantly re-booting their franchises with new auteurs and casts. In addition, they diluted their brand with multiple different and conflicting continuities spread across TV and features,” he asserted. “Which Batman is ‘real?’ Who is the authorized Superman?”
Pointing to the most recent The Flash film, Dixon said, “And they damned themselves with this latest Flash flick by leaning into all the multiverse nonsense in order to cram as many cameos into this failed project as possible.”
DC Studios CEO James Gunn also appears to share some of Millar’s opinions about superhero movies. Speaking with former Lex Luthor actor Michael Rosenbaum. Gunn was asked, “Do you think that there are too many superhero shows and movies and… Because I remember when I did Smallville there were none?”
Gunn answered, “Yes. Yeah, I do think there’s too many.” When asked what he should do about that, Gunn responded, “But I don’t think it’s not…it’s much less a problem of too many. And yes, we are not going to overextend ourselves at DC. We’re going to be very careful with the product that we put out and making sure everything is as good as it can possibly be.”
He then noted the creatives behind the films have been subpar, “I think that what’s happened is people have gotten really lazy with their superhero stories and they have gotten to the place where, ‘Oh it’s a superhero let’s make a movie about it!’ And they make, ‘Oh! Let’s make a sequel because the first one did pretty well.’ And they aren’t thinking about why is this story special. What makes this story stand apart from other stories? What is the story at the heart of it all? Why is this character important? What makes this story different? That it fills a need for people in theaters to go see or on television.”
“And I think that people have gotten a little lazy,” he reiterated. “And there’s a lot of biff, pow, bam stuff happening in movies. Like I’m watching third acts of superhero films where I really just don’t feel like there’s a rhyme or reason to what’s happening. I don’t care about the characters.”
He continued, “And they’ve gotten too generic. There’s this sort of middle of the road type of genre, tone that so many superhero movies as opposed to having very different genres. I like very serious superhero movies. I like very comedic superhero movies. I like ones that are really just a murder mystery, but it’s with superheroes.
Gunn added, “I like to see these different types of stories as opposed to seeing the same story told over and over again. I don’t know how many times I…”
After Rosenbaum shared his thoughts and noted that the stories need to be more compelling, Gunn offered more of his own thoughts, “I think that also and then people say superhero fatigue. I think that you see now that it’s not a real thing. People are fatigued with repetition. And I don’t think it’s really just superhero movies, I think you’re seeing it happening now, it’s spectacle films in general.”
He went on, “But there’s a lot of spectacle films made and they just have gotten really generic. And they’ve gotten boring and they aren’t about characters, and there’s no emotion to them. And there should be emotion in things no matter. That should always be there: some type of emotion. I’m not saying it can’t be really light. I’m not saying it can’t be really heavy. I’m saying there should be some sort of emotion.”
Gunn would then reference the horror genre, “In a horror movie if you like that main character then you are much more scared when they’re about to get killed. The stakes matter.”
Whether or not Marvel or DC course correct is yet to be seen. The true test for DC will likely be the DCU’s first two movies in James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy and The Authority.
If Marvel changes it probably won’t be until they introduce the Fantastic Four and/or the X-Men, and that’s a big if. But by then they might not even have a significant audience even interested in checking those films out given the company is quickly garnering a reputation for pushing out highly tainted films and TV shows that focus on pushing degenerate messaging. And when they marginally stay away from that messaging, the movies and television shows just plain suck.
What do you make of Mark Millar’s comments?