Franchise Fatigue: Lazy Criticism Misses Story-Telling of Marvel and Star Wars
There is a certain subset of critics and pundits that like to bash the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, and Disney’s production of content related to them. These people tend to be “professional” film critics who write from the perspective of potential box office and the value of Disney stock as it relates to its various properties. Some people who continue to make this pronouncement that started with “superhero fatigue” are Disney’s competitors. No matter who is spouting off about franchise fatigue or superhero fatigue, they are wrong, and they are wrong for one simple reason: These franchises offer a multitude of story lines that encompass all aspects of the human condition.
Story Possibilities in Marvel and Star Wars
The story lines available to Marvel and Star Wars are literally limitless. Marvel has already showed that it can pull off war films, heist films, and superhero team-ups. Marvel has also flirted with horror and spy genres. It’s not the “superhero” that makes Marvel great. It’s the stories they tell that happen to have superheroes in them. Marvel has been writing multiple story lines that flit through different comic books since 1939. To think that people would tire of superhero films in the marvel universe is to discount a company that survived through several decades and to discount the genre of comics as a whole. Marvel has over 80 years of creativity to draw from.
Star Wars isn’t much different from Marvel, except the stories haven’t been around as long. Still, there are plenty of characters, planets, and storylines to draw from. Star Wars novels have regular hit the bestsellers list since they first started publishing in 1976. There is a gold mine of creativity and storylines available now and in the future. As long as the films have good storylines and great characters, no one will tire of them — least of all their greatest fans.
The Actual Box Office
According to Box Office Mojo, nine Marvel films are in the Top 50 box office grosses of all time, and Five Star Wars films are there. All have all made over $1 billion. The real question isn’t about whether or not audiences will tire of the films; it’s whether or not people will have the money to go see them as the gap between the rich and the rest of us continues to grow. People generally like these story lines; the recurring characters are an asset and not a hindrance to box office. People want to see the familiar, especially if they are spending $20 or $30. It’s a safer expenditure for them, and it means that the only way Marvel or Star Wars fail is not through too much product but a lack of quality.
Sequels and Remakes
Critics, myself included, like to lump these movies together as lacking creativity. However, I think if we look closer, we can see what it takes to make a marvel film and offer something different for every theater experience. They are similar to each other in some respects, but so are all rom-coms, westerns, and buddy-cop films. While Star Wars hasn’t tapped into its potential on the movie screen, which should be a scary thought for everyone else in the industry, it could branch out into other films that will bring in new fans and not just satiate fan-boy hunger for lore-centric films.
While some of its film properties are derivative and unneeded — Live-action Lion King — Star Wars and Marvel are essential to the future of the company. The movies feed into the theme park lands, the products, and the books, which in turn feed into demand for more movies. Too many movies from wither of these properties would mean that the films are lacking in telling a good story and delivering great characters. It won’t be a matter of fatigue.