As any casual Screen Rant reader may have noticed, we cover a lot of comic book movies. There have been oh so many over the years - some terrible, some terrific, most of them falling somewhere in between. The colorful, larger than life stories inside the pages of a comic book can appeal to a wide range of audiences and the tremendous, billion-dollar successes of the genre (The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Iron Man 3) have only inspired Hollywood to keep making them for as long as people will keep watching.
With Marvel Studios and Disney hitting paydirt with their expansive, multi-platform cinematic universe, the other studios with the film rights to major comic book properties have followed suit - over 40 comic book-based movies will be released between now and the year 2020. With the genre saturating the media landscape, it was inevitable that some people would disapprove.
We've heard grumbling about the genre's omnipresence before - MCU star and poster boy Robert Downey Jr. has even said that superhero movies are getting "a little bit old." The latest shot across the bow comes from Dan Gilroy, the writer and director of the past year's superior neo-noir thriller Nightcrawler (read our review here).
While accepting the award for Best First Feature at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards, Gilroy made a comment about superhero movies in the last thirty seconds of his speech. Take a look below (via ComicBook.com):
Here is Gilroy's statement:
"Independent film, the foundation and everybody here today, I think are holdouts against a tsunami of superhero movies that have swept over this industry. We have survived and we have thrived and I think that's true spirit."
Gilroy's comments are a little ironic, and not just because his wife Rene Russo played the mother of Chris Hemsworth's Thor. As an independent filmmaker, it's understandable that he's more than annoyed at the way superhero adaptations seem to be pushing everything else aside, but he's also no stranger to big studio projects.
He's the brother of Tony Gilroy, who directed The Bourne Legacy (which Dan co-wrote), he is a credited screenwriter for Real Steel, he contributed a draft to Tim Burton's never-made Superman Lives project, and is reportedly writing Marvel godfather Stan Lee's original superhero project Annihilator.
So does Gilroy's statement make him a hypocrite? Not necessarily, but it may be a little disingenuous of him given his past and future CV. We know superheroes are everywhere these days, with the inter-connected narrative universes extending to network television, Netflix and beyond. We've seen how a studio like Sony can utterly mangle their comic book franchise, and the mishandled Amazing Spider-Man series lends credence to the complaints that you can only throw so much at fans before they get fed up.
So does Gilroy feel that the smaller films are being drowned out? He might have a point there; the days of the mid-budgeted studio film have all but disappeared, with Nightcrawler likely rejected from the majors as far too edgy for their sensibilities. Still, it made $38 million worldwide on an estimated $8.5 million production budget, and the film's advertising was minimal. Add Gilroy's Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay, the film's successful updating of Taxi Driver to the digital age, and it's clear that Gilroy has plenty to be proud of.
Still, he was at the Independent Spirit Awards, he had the podium, and maybe it needed to be said. Then again, it's just a genre, and the public's moviegoing appetite has always been fluid. Once upon a time, gangster pictures made all the money. Westerns were once dominated the box office. In the wake of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, an entire sub-genre of copycats appeared.
We may well be approaching the bursting of the superhero bubble, but with such filmmakers as Paul Thomas Anderson decrying the "bad rap" the genre receives, their appeal cannot be denied. We await Gilroy's own contribution to the genre with Stan Lee's Annihilator - which currently has no director and a rumored release date of sometime in 2015.