These days, every single franchise across the world is trying to incorporate a superhero element in its plot and storyline. It makes you wonder, is the future of the MCU bright, or is it moving towards a slump?
The past ten years for Marvel have been a godsend, with slow yet inevitable growth, while gaining amazing momentum along the way. Here is a sample of the superhero movies and series in the current year:
Beyond a certain point, audiences are bound to get desensitized to the awesomeness of superheroes. This is translating across various demographics, with shows and movies in Spanish, French, Russian, German, and Mandarin!
What is Superhero Fatigue and How will it affect the future of the MCU?
It goes without saying that it was Marvel that started this landslide of comic book-powered entertainment. With the Avengers I movie, ensemble casts became more popular, with people doing crossovers in the unlikeliest of places. Hell, I've even seen regional series which feel the need to crosslink various unrelated shows based on a hint of connection.
This momentum was carried forward with Avengers II and III, with the stakes higher than ever before in its plots. When Avengers Endgame dropped, fans went wild and rushed to watch it on any screen they could, before a spoiler ruined their experience. It became the highest-grossing movie ever, with fans of every single MCU movie going in for a screening of this epic cinematic event.
After Endgame, I myself seemed to have lost interest in the genre as MCU seems to repeat similar storylines. Then I began to see that every single movie franchise was being adapted to being a superhero. This is when movie critics warned the industry of superhero fatigue - seeing the same theme repeated in everything from a packet of chips to shoes and toiletries.
There is a therapeutic technique called exposure therapy where a person can overcome fears by constantly facing the same fear every day. This is basically desensitization at work and is similar to what movie audiences experience when they are theme-bombed with Thor tights and Hulk crocs.
How do you circumvent superhero fatigue?
The guys at Marvel are doing a good job of preventing superhero fatigue already. Considering that the MCU just wrapped up a major movie epic in 2019, they have scaled back on their movies and are releasing more series'. Series formats are shorter and weekly air dates for the episodes get the fans excited each week for a new twist in the episode.
The first two series aired a new episode every Friday and the next two aired their episode on Wednesdays - another format change. Marvel seems to be working hard to change how audiences think of Marvel in terms of predictability.
Let's circle back to the What If... TV series where they rehashed their animation style that was used for other cartoons. They made it more cinematic and less cartoony.
Other ways the MCU could keep things fresh is to make movies with lesser superheroes and more regular folk doing all the avenging. They can also vary the tempo of the movie such as in Thor 3, which was directed by Taika Waititi. Marvel can even lean into darker storylines on the lines of DC to surprise fans and then spring a comedic sequel of Antman or something.
The Final Word - The Future of the MCU
The MCU has been at the forefront of franchise innovation since 2008, learning how to leverage crossovers and building suspense. If they manage to maintain their momentum and keep audiences engaged for years to come, it might affect a lot more than movies. You might see more superhero T-shirts, more mainstreaming of nerd culture, and action figures as desktop ornaments.
Considering all other movie and series franchises are following suit in terms of superhero themes, it's left to Marvel to show everyone the way!
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