Legendary director Steven Spielberg may have franchise films like “Jurassic Park” and the “Indiana Jones” movies among his credits, but he’s skeptical about the future of the current big-budget genre of choice: Superhero movies. In a new interview with the Associated Press promoting his October-debuting film “Bridge of Spies,” Spielberg makes a prediction that’s been made by other observers before — that superhero movies will eventually fall out of fashion much like Westerns, which dominated the box office in a bygone era.
“We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western,” Spielberg said. “It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns.”
The comparison of superhero movies and westerns has been made multiple times in the past — in a 2014 interview with CBR, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada responded to the notion, saying that he didn’t think such a downfall was likely.
“We’re not the western,” Quesada told CBR. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. As long as people want action-adventure blockbuster movies, comic book movies will be here. If someday, the temperament of the world changes, and people decide, ‘You know what? All we want are small, indie, low-budget movies,’ then yeah, maybe we’ll have a dry period for the big-budget comic book-style movie. But it won’t just be comic book movies that will be suffering, it will be everybody who does those big blockbuster kind of movies. I think the sky’s really the limit for us, as long as we as a collective industry continue to produce great material.”
For Spielberg’s part, he acknowledged that superhero movies are currently big business, but that he believes there’s a finite lifespan to the genre’s success.
“Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving,” he told the AP. “I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.”
The current superhero boom can be traced in its earliest days back to the first “Blade” film in 1998, based on the Marvel vampire hunter. The movie made $131.2 million worldwide off of a reported $40 million budget, and inspired two sequels. The genre truly exploded with 2000’s original “X-Men” film, and the success has continued to the current day — July’s “Ant-Man” was the 12th of 12 Marvel Studios films to debut at No. 1 in the box office — with only a few notable exceptions; such as 20th Century Fox’s recent “Fantastic Four” movie, which was a financial and critical disappointment.
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