Is there such a thing as ‘super-hero fatigue’? You bet … I certainly have it! Could there be something lurking in the dark like Star Wars fatigue? As Star Wars starts to become an annual event we might just need to ask ourselves that.
Super-Hero Fatigue: diagnostics.
So what are the diagnostics of super-hero fatigue? Well if I study it in my own case there are plenty of symptoms that I would relate to an underlying affliction of super-hero fatigue. Let me just go through a few:
- Seeing anouncements and excitement everywhere for Captain America: Winter Soldier and somehow not feeling able to be bothered by not sensing any anticipation!
- Coming out of Avengers: Age of Ultron and wondering why all you saw felt like a single incoherent pointless action sequence?
- Having people ask you whether you liked the latest Avengers and telling them you had a good time, because you had a good time, but not being able to recall a single memorable event or shot.
- Watching the trailers of BvS and just finding the whole premise so incredibly shallow.
- Watching the Captain America: Civil War trailer and … feeling exactly the same … OMG is this shallow.
- Watching the Captain America: Civil War trailer and thinking … this isn’t a Civil War!? This is kidstuff … but knowing you’ll watch it in cinema anyway and will have a good time (probably again without being able to recall anything memorable afterwards).
- Watching the Dr Strange teaser trailer and shutting it up half way through because you realise you’ld prefer watching Smaug … and flicking out that extended version of BOFA.
- Getting really fed up with seeing all these male, adolescent, rubbish trailers that leave you increasingly cold … no matter how sad Ironman and Captain America are that they fell out with one another.
- Noticing that you actively start avoiding Facebook pages and twitter-feeds that keep hysterically celebrating anything Super-Hero related as soon as the internet farts it out.
- Finding the word “Badass” as nauseating as the visuals of digitally pumped-up testosterone puppets in shiny suits.
Now all of this is of course not because these movies are bad movies! Let’s face it, in terms of box office they recoup their production budget by a 50% margin or more, so hey … that’s great. The fact that Marvel is stuffing its films so chockful of characters that any development probably largely needs to happen off-screen is well … probably I simply don’t see it but it does happen. And just when you are about to contemplate something is wrong with you because you find it annoying when overacting YouTubers discuss the latest Rogue One teaser-trailer in the same ‘shallowness on steroids’ fashion in which they raved about BvS or are raving about Civil War … you spot that in the All-time, inflation corrected, US Box Office charts there are 5 Star Wars movies among the top 18 … and not a single Super-Hero flick.
Spanning Generations was a Star Wars strength
When the teaser trailer to Star Wars: Rogue One came out I was excited, possibly not as ridiculously so as when the The Force Awakens teaser came out, but that was evidently because it had not been 10 years. I loved the trailer and it made me care about this new lead character and her path towards the Death Star. It also made me hope that we will essentially see only one adventure by her and that in the next spin-off we move on to other characters. But then that seems to be exactly what Lucasfilm is planning.
Looking at the All-Time box office impact of Star Wars you once again recognise there isn’t a single franchise that comes close to that impact. How come? Evidently the shiny-suit testosterone badassery isn’t giving you a comparable impact. Neither is the teen-targetting of a Hunger Games or Twilight. The Force Awakens comes with plenty of memorable scenes, despite the fact that some of these are memorable only because of how they rhyme with Original and Prequel Trilogy moments and not so much simply by themselves. The final shot of the movuie however, though in my eyes not the best shot of the film, surely is one fo those memorable ones. The sequence of Rey climbing the Jedi Stairs is equally compelling. Rey putting on het x-wing pilot helmet, her ‘baking’ her bread.
There is a humanity in Star Wars that at times annoys and puts off the badassery thrill-seekers but that does connect with that other large half of the audience. Star Wars films span generations in terms fo their content but also in terms of their releases. The wait of 16 years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace was long but also testament to the power of these stories. The decade-long wait between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens was also long, though sweetened and shortened by Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But waiting for a new generation to grow up and take over is a good thing … both in terms of characters as well as in terms of audience. Super-Hero movies lack this utterly, in my view. They roll off the Marvel & DC production lines as ready-to-eat entertainment products. A good two-and-a-half hours of fun but speaking to nothing else except their own comic book spacetime.
Could there be a Star Wars fatigue some time in the future?
Could the sequelization of Star Wars under Disney start to put Star Wars in that same boat? Will there ever be a time where I enter a Star Wars movie as casually as I enter an otherwise fairly forgettable super-hero movie? Well, if the chefs at Luasfilm follow Marvel & DC recipes then the answer will be a resounding Yes! Then they will see Star Wars films never reaching that All Time top 20 any more because they cater towards a fringe audience with enough pocketmoney to get them a 50% margin on their production costs.
Rogue One will in a way be the first test of what it will be. If Rogue One is what it set out to be … a war movie inspired by films such as Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket. If Rogue One is a one-off story about Jyn Orsa set against that wider back ground of the Galactic Civil War, just like Saving Private Ryan is a compelling story set against that back ground of the Second World War and D-Day … a story that deserves to be told in its own right without further need of sequelisation … then I believe Lucasfilm can strike gold. Then I will look forward to a Han Solo spin-off that is a comedy, then I hope to tolive the daythat I can sit in a cinema for a Star Wars Film-Noir, a ‘Lars von Trier’ Star Wars, a ‘Wim Wenders’ Star Wars or a Star Wars galaxy rom-com. That would be exciting!
But if the ‘Star Wars Story’ films become vehicles for introducing shitloads of characters each of whom potentially get sequalised to infinity depending on audience response. Than I will devellop a Star Wars fatigue at some point … probably the point where I look back and say: Those first six … that was Star Wars. After seeing the Rogue One trailer I am optimistic!