The Problem With Superhero Movies

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

By Oliver James Pike

Superhero movies are for kids and I cannot understand the mass popularity of such films amoungst apparently adult audiences. I can no longer take batman seriously. The films attempt to create an atmosphere of dark, gritty severity and yet at the same time contrasts this with batman growling ludicrous names like “the riddler and killer Croc”. Even the more r rated Joker movie was littered with references to this fantasy world for children. Every time they referenced Bruce Wayne or Gotham I was pulled right out of the story and was reminded that while this grounded character battled with his inner demons somewhere else in the same city was a steroid addled Mexican luchador, a sudoku feteshist wearing green lycra and a man made entirely of clay. While these films are probably more relevant than ever (as billionaires battle foes identifying as penguins) perhaps it is time for adults to watch something more appropriate.

Even the more cheery Marvel movies have become so mindnumbingly sophomoric as to be a flashy cringe fest. When I saw the last avengers film in the cinema and the lights came on I felt the same shame a teenager watching porn would. I experienced a deep sense of embarrassment over the fact that I had been in any way drawn into this childish romp. As a kid I would love such movies and imagine myself as the titular hero but to even relive a mere second of this youthful fantasy made me shiver. In the period where I shamefully watched these films I would leave the cinema before the after credits scene so as to go unseen. As I would leave I would see hordes of adults wasting 10 minutes of their lives watching credits for a 20 second scene they could watch on YouTube. This was a wake up call. Superhero movies should not be for adults and the growing trend of grownups being brought to tears by a movie trailer or becoming enthralled by people running fast and flying is a serious worry.

Beyond being cringeworthy, lazy and increasingly boring these films have recently become insufferably preachy. There was one scene in the last avengers where one of the female superhero is cornered. It looks as if it is all over for her until every other female cast member conveniently shows up to defend her. Instead of creating an entertaining fight scene involving a selection of character regardless of gender the director instead chose to give us a female empowerment moment in the form of iron mans wife punching an alien. Continuity, common sense and entertainment value all ignored in order to create a political statement. In fact there have been calls to create an all female avengers movie which demonstrates the sentiment of politics before entertainment clearly.

Another film, Black Panther is packed with references to colonisation and argues that had the evil Europeans left Africa alone cities like Wakanda could be a reality. There is nothing wrong with discussing colonisation in a film ,and considering the setting it makes sense. However, the film never touches on the role of African nations in the slave trade and the violent wars between tribes that spawned intra and International slavery. It never mentions the role of corruption and dictatorships in holding the continent back or the vast sums of money pumped into Africa by charities and western countries alike. Either, present topics like colonisation in a more nuanced and thought provoking way or keep it out of a film for kids. This is just the beginning and films are set to become even more preachy as time goes on. Marvel has even released a new comic book series with non binary superheroes called Safespace and Snowflake. A film version is most likely going to grace cinema screens soon.

Superhero movies are nothing more than formulaic, superficial, politically injected entertainment for kids. Adults should avoid these films ,if they can, and watch films suited to their age. Ask people if they have seen Goodfellas or Pulp fiction and a surprising number have not. They have however seen yet another Spiderman remake, Stuart little and the latest film in the Cars franchise. This is part of a wider problem with the infantilisation of adults. Where previously adults would have picked up a hobby, joined a social group or worked on their career we find them living in messy flats, watching cartoons and completing adult colouring in books. Superhero movies and their growing success amongst grownups is indicative of this serious problem facing those entering adulthood. That they are emotionally and technically unequipped for the modern world and so retreat into juvenile fantasies wherever possible. Superhero movies can't be blamed for this directly. Instead schools, parents and the whole of society have systematically infantilised the adults of tomorrow. Health and safety, over intervention in diets, play and relationships along with patronising safespace policies have bred a generation of scared, lost and unprepared indiviudals. Hard graft, perseverance and risk have all been eradicated to such an extent that all such concepts become a complete mystery to people. It's no wonder Batman Begins looks more appealing than filling out a tax return.