Is the end of the superhero craze that has plagued the box office for the last decade approaching? It may be so. Last weekend Green Lantern became the second superhero movie to under-perform at the box office during its opening weekend. We still have Captain America to go but if it stumbles it is likely studios will begin to loose their affinity for what has been their cash cow of choice. This brings up two questions: what will happen to the series of reboots, sequels, prequels, and rehashes that Marvel and Warner were allegedly planning to make? And if the superhero is indeed coming to an end what will replace it?
The first question is easy to answer. They will get canned. A studio won’t make a movie if it is uncertain on whether or not it can bring back the moneys, even if it means leaving the story unfinished. Warner/DC has announced its plans follow Marvel’s example and make a Justice League film universe; Green Lantern was supposed to be the launch of that franchise. But unlike Iron Man, which was a surprise success, Green Lantern turned out to be a disappointment (financially speaking). Green Lantern also cost almost twice the Iron Man budget to make and market. X-Men First Class, also underperformed but its lower costs made it much less of a blunder.
Regardless studios are still optimistic about the near future. X-Men First Class did do OK, not great just OK, overseas. Furthermore critical reviews of the film have been for the most part positive; it is a pretty good movie. Blame has instead been assigned to its shitty predecessors X-Men The Last Stand, and X-Men Origins Wolverine, which did quite well at the box-office but no one can admit that they were any good. Still confident Fox has announced that a possible fourth installment to the main franchise, and a possible sequel to First Class. Similarly Green Latern has yet to premiere outside the US, and Warner Bros is likely to be hoping for similar results for Green Lantern.
However if Lantern and Captain America both under perform it is most likely we will be seeing significant changes in studios’ upcoming plans. Marvel will continue ahead with the Avengers, but we might not see much after the first Avengers installment and Iron Man 3. To be honest I do not need a third Hulk movie. And Warner/DC will give up on their Justice League plans.
And if it does happen, now what? Well this is a lot harder to predict. Studios will search for a new cash cow to milk. And like the superhero genre it is likely to be sourced material, instead of original material. It is also very likely that this new cow is already in the barn. Universal has announced its plans to remake all its classic monster movies; believe it or not, they own the rights to everything from Dracula’s Daughter to The Monster From the Black Lagoon. Furthermore there is already a whole section in Barnes & Noble entitled “Supernatural Teen Romance”. I really hate to say this, but Twlight might have been to this decade what X-Men was, in 2000, to the previous decade; the forbearer of a genre boom.
Then again I could be entirely wrong about all this.