‘BattleTech’ Novelist Blaine Pardoe Obliterates “Superhero Fatigue” Narrative, Puts Blame Squarely On Hollywood Studios
BattleTech novelist Blaine Pardoe did not mince any words when he shared his thoughts about the recent “superhero fatigue” narrative that has been making the rounds in the press.
The idea of superhero fatigue is that there’s just too many superhero movies and TV shows out there and audiences have grown weary of films and TV shows featuring superheroes.
However, Pardoe believes the whole idea is bunk and is an excuse for movie studios to blame audiences for their terrible movies.
He wrote on X, “‘Superhero fatigue,’ is the production companies blaming the fan base for their failure to produce what the fans actually want.”
“Superhero fatigue,” is the production companies blaming the fan base for their failure to produce what the fans actually want.
— Blaine Pardoe (@bpardoe870) October 27, 2023
Pardoe is not alone in his assessment. Novelist Declan Finn, known for his White Ops series and his St. Tommy N.Y.P.D. series, shared his thoughts on so-called superhero fatigue back in September while reacting to Steven Spielberg’s assessment that superhero films will eventually exit the zeitgeist much like westerns did.
Finn wrote, “Yeah, sadly. But not because it’s going to be ‘over done’ or ‘worn out’. This isn’t superhero fatigue. There was no cowboy fatigue.”
He explained, “What happened to the Westerns is that, in the early 60s (watch old cowboy TV series, you can *see* it happen) writers couldn’t relate to the heroic manly man as anything other than a hollow, evil, conniving villain.”
“They didn’t *want* heroes, they wanted *anti* heroes,” he elaborated. “They didn’t want people to look up to and aspire to be like, they wanted people who were so full of fail that they could feel good about themselves in comparison.”
With these characters inserted into the western genre, Finn posits that the viewing public rejected it and stopped watching the genre, “But the viewing public *hated* that, and wanted their heroes back. So they quit watching westerns and turned to doctor shows, where the doctors were still allowed to be heroes. (From Kildare to Quincy)”
He went on to posit this also occurred in science fiction publishing, “It’s *exactly* what happened, later, with science fiction publishing. No heroes, only social messaging.”
From there, Finn shared an analogy to what they did to westerns, science fiction publishing, and are currently doing to superheroes, “It’s as though a small group of people take over something thriving, and drive it directly into the ground trying to ‘improve’ it. Like a certain fictional character inventing ‘Broccoli flavored bubble gum’ for kids who don’t like candy, complete with trading cards of great moments in opera.”
He continued, “Soon there are only a select few of matching taste that are buying or trading, and they think they’re the entire world. They vote ‘best opera trading card’ of the year amongst their tiny number, and are very thrilled with each other.”
Finn then declared, “We’re not seeing superhero fatigue. We’re seeing Brie Larson and crap writing (but I repeat myself) all year long.”
Headline: “Spielberg thinks superhero movies will go the way of the western”.
Yeah, sadly. But not because it’s going to be ‘over done’ or ‘worn out’.
This isn’t superhero fatigue. There was no cowboy fatigue.
What happened to the Westerns is that, in the early 60s (watch old…
— Declan Finn, editor/author #IronAge action novels (@DeclanFinnBooks) September 3, 2023
Prolific Batman and Punisher writer Chuck Dixon previously shared his thoughts on the subject with Bounding Into Comics back in June.
He said, “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.”
As for why the superhero cycle is ending he shared, “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.”
Next, Dixon pointed to the mismanagement of the most prominent superhero universes by both Warner Bros. and Disney, “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.”
Dixon then rhetorically asked, “Is it any wonder even dedicated fans are staying home and tuning out?”
“With nearly every studio currently billions in the red, they can no longer afford to either produce more tentpole superhero flicks or even market and release ones they have in the can or in post-production,” he concluded.
Even DC Studios CEO James Gunn has admitted that the idea of “superhero fatigue” stems from poor quality films during an appearance on Michael Rosenbaum’s podcast.
“I think that what’s happened is people have gotten really lazy with their superhero stories,” Gunn shared, “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…”
He then informed Rosenbaum, “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.”
Gunn added, “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.”
X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn even remarked recently that a lot of current superhero films are bad.
He said, “I think there’s been so many bad superhero movies as well that it’s like when the Western got, you make so many then you get bored of the genre, not because the genre is bad, but because the films are bad.”
What do you make of Pardoe’s analysis regarding so-called “superhero fatigue?”