Will Fan Partisanship Ruin The Superhero Film Genre?


The superhero genre, specifically regarding movies, has become like the world of sports. We all have our favorite sports team we root for and those we rally against. The lines have been drawn in much the same way when it comes to the movie and TV worlds being created by Marvel/Disney and DC Comics/Warner Bros.

Fans of both the companies’ films have been known to get into savage message board fights about which franchise is better or worse. While a form of friendly competition can and does make talking about these movies fun, many fans have been taking things too far. There is nothing wrong with not liking a movie or not liking flaws in a film. Where things cross the line is when fans of either Marvel or DC begin to publicly bash a film, simply based on what studio it came from. Anyone who has attended a sports event will tell you that there is nothing more annoying than the guy spewing hatred for the opposing team while everyone is trying to have fun.

I have been a fan of comics and superheroes ever since I first watched Batman: The Animated Series. When Iron Man came along in 2008, I loved it. I also greatly enjoyed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Due to my wide-ranging tastes, I have participated in friendly debates involving both Marvel and DC properties. However, when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, I was, for the first time in my life, ashamed to call myself a fanboy.  I have never seen the level of hate and vitriolic rhetoric that was garnered for this film.

Sure, if you disliked the film that was your opinion, and I welcome the fact that we’re not in agreement. Yet, the hate for this film started months before its release. Both fans and haters began dissecting and then dooming the film based on mere seconds from the film’s trailers.

Most of the hate came from people who disliked the DC Universe. These same people even began saying they hoped the film would be a failure — just because it was a DC Comics property. As stated before, a little rivalry is fine and can be fun. We fans need to realize that this partisan attitude could very possibly destroy the superhero boom that Hollywood is experiencing. Let me explain, Hollywood cares about money. The dollar (or yen, euros, etc.) is king in this business.

Hollywood is also easily spooked. Disney famously renamed John Carter of Mars to John Carter simply because the film, Mars Needs Moms, had flopped so badly at the box office. Hollywood drew the conclusion that films about Mars were not popular, not that the film may have been bad. So, instead, the whole genre was scrapped. I believe the superhero genre is one major flop away from being abandoned by Hollywood. If Marvel or DC makes a major $200 million dollar film and it bombs, Hollywood could very well decide that superhero movies are on the way out. This could lead to them slashing how many they make. 

Fans are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Backlash from fans sunk Fantastic Four and cost Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a few hundred million dollars. Fans need to realize that partisanship just for the sake of partisanship is not good for this industry. Sure, we can have a favorite studio, but fans need to stop hating on films just because they came from a rival studio.

When a superhero film does well at the box office, everyone wins. When DC makes a billion dollars on a superhero film, it drives Marvel to make better films so they can match them. Competition is good for all of us. Let’s look at the words of Kevin Feige, the godfather of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:       

"I don’t think it is quite fair to say DC is finally getting their act together. The Dark Knight movies were rather successful and genre-defining – they altered the genre in big ways. So I think there has always been competition that way. I mean, Iron Man was the number one movie of 2008 until The Dark Knight came along, and I loved it, frankly. I love that the number 1 and the number 2 movies of that year – and it has happened a number of times since then – [were] comic-book movies, even if it wasn’t one we made."

So as fans, let’s all gather and celebrate the fact that for the first time in film history, superheroes are kings of the box office. Let’s be content for a well-performing film, even if it comes from a rival studio. Let’s be happy when films are made with diversity of style, tone, and direction. Let’s cut the hypocrisy of hating on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for being to“dark and broody” when we all cheered the Nolan trilogy for just those reasons. In short, let’s be happy we can go to the theater and watch our favorite iconic superheroes fight and rid the world of evil. These films could leave us as fast as they flew in.