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!
9 thoughts on “Super-Hero Fatigue & Star Wars”
I think part of the reason the original 6 films have stuck with so many people for so long is that there’s more to them than pure entertainment. Among many unique traits there’s a philosophy in the background that fighting and aggression only make problems worse, which really sets the movies apart from superhero and action movies that glamorize violence and go intentionally grim-dark because it sells.
I was worried that this is one of the things Disney’s version would gloss over. But while Ep.7 and Rebels season 1 had more pure action on their slates than past stories, Rebels season 2 wears that philosophy on its sleeve. So I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I wasn’t a fan of the wrap sheet read off in the trailer, it made her feel like a typical Hollywood portrayal of a “bad-ass” character. But the marketing division isn’t the story group, so like Luke’s Ep.7 trailer dialogue it may not even be in the final film.
I def. burned out on old EU books in the post-ROTJ period when they churned out too many that missed the point for me. Thankfully the PT era EU comics and books were more in line with what Star Wars is to me.
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I totally agree. And your observation that most super-hero movies actually seem to endorse and promote the resolution of conflict by violence is indeed stark contrast to Star Wars where the violence is always revealed to be a fraudulent ‘resolution’ … such as with Palpatine’s ascendency after the victory in the Battle of Naboo and Darth Vader’s ascendency (effectively taking Tarkin’s place) after the victorious destruction of the first death star. The real resolution comes through redemption and sacrifice in Return of the Jedi … not war.
marvel films suck mostly because they are set ups for future films. hiaglo confirmed that there will be “no attempt to carry standalone characters to and from the saga films” and that it wont be “chronological set ups and hand offs” to future films. thus you pretty much destroy the number one cause of them sucking
Really interesting read. Do you ever share writing like this on any movie website?
No but the authors here are all open to suggestions 😊 Thanks for the comment!
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Why is it that a lot of STAR WARS fans seemed to be very critical of comic book hero movies . . . especially those from the Marvel Cinematic Universe? And why do these same fans seemed to judge these films as one-note action fests with hardly any depth – emotional or philosophical? I have never spotted this attitude from the fans of these movies.
Although I’m not a big fan of “THE FORCE AWAKENS”, I have always been a fan of STAR WARS franchise in general. But I also enjoy both the Marvel and DC Comic films as well . . . especially those that possess a great deal of depth.
marvel films suck mostly because they are set ups for future films.
But aren’t the STAR WARS films guilty of the same thing? With the exception of “A NEW HOPE”, which “felt’ like a stand alone film and “RETURN OF THE JEDI”, which seemed to have a definite ending to the saga, most of the others seemed to be set ups for the next movie in the saga.
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.
“ROGUE ONE” is basically a prequel to “A NEW HOPE”. It’s about the Rebel Alliance’s plot to steal the Empire’s plans for the first Death Star. Everyone knows this.
When I wrote about the MCU films or the DC films I was mainly voicing my own personal impression of these films. I found the latest Captain America film entertaining but UI couldn’t find a trace of a ‘deeper level’ of story-telling in it. Sure I recognise Cap’s conflict between loyalty & friendship to Bucky, the greater good of the Avenger’s reputation and the legitimate demand of the civilian population on Earth not to have their cities smashed to bits during a rescue. But to me those dilemma’s feel like set-ups for what are in the end ‘smash your face’ action scenes. The whole reveal of Iron Man’s parental loss-trauma and subsequent conflict with Cap felt to little and to late to me in terms of story-telling.
What I appreciate within Star Wars is how these inner conflicts of characters are built up over years and decades. we see Anakin as a kid, then as a late teen-ager, then as young brazen adult and at the end as an old tired man dying in the presence of his son. The conflicts aren’t given to characters to allow them to have some interesting scenes, they conflicts within Anakin define his character, they make him as much as they break him. He struggles with the inversions that what is his strength at one moment becomes his weakness at another. And as he learns that his real struggle is one that violence can never provide an answer to, he must also accept that there is no way back to ‘innocence’ for him in this life. Those are timeless themes that shape characters.
Now of course Rogue One is a prequel. But saying that is just a statement about the wider political and military background of the story of the movie. Saving Private Ryan is a story set during the D-Day landings, but the story it is trying to tell is not ‘oh look this is what D-Day was like’. It is about what humanity remains in the midst of dehumanizing violence, a soldier struggling with the sacrifice of others for his retrieval, struggling with the question whether duty can also mean leaving the battle of your time and heading for home, about what measure of sacrifice is genuine sacrifice and where it becomes atrocity. Now it is just a two-hour film so it can only try to tell that story in a very condensed fashion and to my taste Spielberg manages well in the first 60 minutes. I always have the feeling he goes a little to much on the auto-pilot in the second half. If Rogue One can tell an interesting character story that goes beyond the mere thrills of battle-scenes than this would be great. If Rogue One derails into a kind of ‘every solution requires violence in the end’, ‘look how badass blowing other creatures up really is’ and ‘here’s star wars battle front done dark’ type of entertainment then I think it is a missed opportunity.