That’s more or less what Matt Zoller Seitz is saying in this widely-quoted Salon piece:
The comic book film has become a gravy train to nowhere. The genre cranks up directors’ box office averages and keeps offbeat actors fully employed for years at a stretch by dutifully replicating (with precious few exceptions) the least interesting, least exciting elements of its source material; spicing up otherwise rote superhero vs. supervillain storylines with “complications” and “revisions” (scare quotes intentional) that the filmmakers, for reasons of fiduciary duty, cannot properly investigate; and delivering amusing characterizations, dense stories or stunning visuals while typically failing to combine those aspects into a satisfying whole.
As IRON MAN 2 is poised to become the biggest opening ever, it’s worth revisiting the genre and pointing out that as movies — like movies with themes and acting and set pieces that aren’t fights and so on — the genre has gotten as formulaic as the wifebeaters all of Marvel’s heroes wear. We’d slap Seitz on the wrist for conflating “comic book” with “superhero” in the above quote — and while we can’t argue that SUPERMAN RETURNS and Ang Lee’s HULK were the most daring attempts at a larger meaning, they still weren’t all that…successful.
What do YOU think? Are superhero movies running out of steam?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.