Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins reveals why she believes the superhero movie genre can continue indefinitely. Wonder Woman is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2017, with Jenkins as director of the superhero’s standalone movie, starring Gal Gadot in the titular role. Excitement is high for a number of reasons, not least because this is a female-led superhero movie, with a female director, but also because Wonder Woman is such an iconic character, and the public appetite for all things superhero related, be it DC, Marvel, or others, shows no sign of waning.
At a WonderCon 2017 panel, Jenkins was asked about this phenomenon, that has seen superhero movies dominating the world of cinema for many years, with the really big resurgence coming, arguably, with the release of Iron Man in 2008. When asked whether she could see the decline in superhero movies coming in the future, Jenkins stated that she sees no reason why the genre can’t continue indefinitely (via CinemaBlend):
“That’s the great thing about the diversity of superheroes, and one of the reasons why when people say ‘Is the superhero thing gonna die?’ or whatever, I always think it’s so much bigger than that. It’s not about superheroes. It’s about the method of universal storytelling that all people have that is not of one religion, one thing, that America ended up inventing as a way to tell these metaphors about all different kinds of states of being. So to me, they’re the same as the Greek myth, they’re the same as the Roman myth, or religious figures of every religion. These are our common characters that we use to express stories about being a better person, or what you would do if you were faced with various things. So for me, that’s an incredibly powerful thing. There’s a million movies to be told with [these] common characters.”
Jenkins’ answer makes a lot of sense; after all, these characters have been around far longer than most of us have been alive. The first superhero comics appeared in 1938 during the Great Depression, and characters like Batman and Superman have never gone out of style. The best thing about such creations is that they can continually evolve, therefore they never date and they can adapt to the way the audience at the time view the world.
That said, there are those (Steven Spielberg included) that foresee the superhero genre going the same way as Westerns, or pirate movies did; that is to say, superhero movies will enjoy vast success before dying out as the world moves on to something new. With movie slates lined up to 2020 and beyond, Marvel and DC will certainly be hoping that doesn’t happen.
It really is hard to imagine the genre fading from the public’s appetite though, especially when the range of movies offered within the genre are so vast; there’s the MCU and the DCEU for a start, but there’s also reboots of popular kids franchises (Power Rangers), LEGO, or animated offerings too. Within the MCU there’s lighter, more humorous offerings coupled with the more supernatural side of things, such as Doctor Strange. The release of Wonder Woman this summer is also yet another pivotal moment for the genre, because if the movie succeeds as most are hoping it will, it could pave the way for many more female-led superhero movies to come.