Monday, August 09, 2010

Cinematic Superhero Saturation

That's what X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn is worried about, anyway, describing the genre as "mined to death" in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. It's hard not to see where he's coming from, as his X-Men reboot, tasked with restoring the sheen of respectability to the once beloved franchise, enters the box office sweepstakes next summer in the midst of a veritable costume party. Captain AmericaThor, and Green Lantern will all be battling it out with the mutants for an ever-shrinking share of filmgoer dollars, and with Avengers and (potentially) Justice League soon giving way to Dr. Strange and Ant Man, it has to be asked if the superhero movie is on the slow ramp down from its highest highs.

In addition to the saturation, another of Vaughn's worries is the lack of proper quality control from the people in charge, which he describes as "not what it's supposed to be." And again, he'd be the one to know. You may recall that Vaughn was Fox's first replacement for director Bryan Singer on 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, getting as far as developing the story and making some of the initial casting selections.  After he walked away, he watched Brett Ratner take over and run it into the ground while still ending up with a $459 mil global total. Lack of quality control, indeed. Playing in parallel with this is a story over at Cinema Blend about director Jon Favreau's tempestuous relationship with Marvel during the development and productions of last May's Iron Man 2.

According to their anonymous source, the inclusion of so many Avengers nods in the Iron sequel, which struck quite a few people (though, admittedly, not to me) as gratuitous were forced on him by the studio, as was the condensed schedule which saw the film rushed into production before it was ready so it could meet a release date. Now, I'm instinctively jaundiced against anything sourced anonymously, but the tale of the critical and box office tape on Iron Man 2 is what it is -- while far from a disappointment, it still failed to match or exceed its predecessor by either measure.  In the end, it'll take more than a few misfires to kill a genre that survived Batman & Robin, Spawn, and Steel in one hellish summer, but the twin threats of over-saturation and insufficient QCing are definite causes for concern.  The mass audience's tolerance for both will likely face its first major test next year.

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