Steven Spielberg Predicts the End of the Superhero Movie

By September 3, 2015

Superhero Movies are the bread and butter of Hollywood right now.  Some would even argue, the life force of a studio’s bottom line. After Avengers Age of Ultron and Ant Man added to the pile of money enjoyed at Marvel in 2015, ending Phase Two in style, people are already looking forward to next year. At least the die hard Marvel fan is looking forward (now with an even more interesting creative team behind the studio after some shake-ups).

Funny enough, it wasn’t the atrocious Fantastic Four that brought about the whispers most have heard by now; whispers that foretell the end of the superhero genre. No, that came with Marvel’s own Ant Man, which underperformed at the box office to some. Underperformed is a relative term, one used here because it didn’t pull Avengers money OR Guardians of the Galaxy money; GOTG being a relative newcomer as far as Marvel branding was concerned and easily compared to the similar niche comic property like Ant-Man.

Fantastic Four made a lot of studio heads nervous but that had more to do, I think, with the problems with script and behind the scenes antics of director Josh Trank; (plus it bombed so I’m sure a studio head somewhere lost their job). No, in my mind, there is no superhero fatigue. Seeing as there are six comic book movies coming out next year… that’s right SIX: Deadpool, Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men Apocalypse, Suicide Squad and Dr. Strange; whether you like it or not, the superhero movie is here to stay.

But for how long?

Steven Spielberg seems to know. Speaking to the Associated Press, Spielberg showed little restraint in making all of the studio heads, bloggers, websites (and even the fans) nervous when he compared the Western Genre to our current Superhero Genre

Here’s his quote making the rounds and inciting conversation:

We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. 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.”

I will forever get behind a filmmaker discovering another genre for all of us to enjoy (video games?); I will also listen and learn when Maestro Spielberg drops some knowledge for us all.

What I AM trying to wrap my head around is how the studios will justify letting billion dollar properties go after spending so much money on them in the first place?


As you can see, there is no shortage of superhero movies… not any time soon. But barring some major developments or the rejiggering of studio policy, as long as the movies are making money, the movies will be made.

You can also argue that the Western is NOT dead at all. I look to the reboot of The Magnificent Seven with Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington; with Antoine Fuqua behind the lens. Sure, the genre isn’t performing as well as the superhero genre but it’s not dead.

Going even deeper, Spielberg doesn’t completely say they will disappear – he clearly states there will be an ‘occasion’ for a Western to be made and lumps the superhero movie into that classification.

In that, and with all due respect to my favorite director of all time, I think what WILL change is how we consume the movie, not the genre itself. With the advent of streaming coupled with social media, as long as the project is made well and strikes a nerve with an audience, the product will sell. I don’t believe it’s going away… I don’t believe there will, all of a sudden, be an audience turning up their nose to a “superhero movie.” I believe, in the end, it is up to the filmmakers and the studios to not get lazy. As long as they focus on story and character, the genre can and will live forever.

In saying that, Spielberg, I think, is saying that the movie will go the way of the Western. In my opinion, there will always be the Western just like there will always be the Superhero. We have the dramas, the comedies, the big budget and the indie. What is inherently true in every case, if the movie is done well, the audience will come.

They will download and share; they will stream; they will line up with their friends and an audience and laugh and cry and cheer. At one point, I too thought there would be an end to the superhero movie… But then, the movies kept getting better.

Marvel came along and blew our minds; Brian Singer came back to the X-Men. Netflix released Daredevil; and someone inside Warner Bros Studios wanted to see Batman fight Superman. In all these cases, they came about after other superhero properties failed.

They didn’t give up on Daredevil and look where we are now? They didn’t give up on Batman after a second trilogy ended. They didn’t give up after X-Men The Last Stand or X-Men Origins: Wolverine; they didn’t listen to the naysayers that relegated Iron Man into the B Team. Time and time again, the superhero movie has bounced back. Why? Because of the Nolan’s, the Singer’s; the Favreau’s and the Rami’s. Those names bring legitimacy. They bring talent, and they prove over and over again, if the movie is done right in story and in character, the audience will buy.

And for those Western fans out there… Same deal. All we need is the studio to take notice and do something about it. Bring in the talent, the audience will come.

For more Superhero AND Western news, make sure you check back here for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

Mark Reilly
Born a geek a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away - Tustin, CA - Reilly is a seasoned writer and producer with over twenty years experience in the film industry. He is the co-host of 'Far, Far Away' here on GeekNation as well as 'Meet the Movie Press' on the Popcorn Talk Network; which airs live every Friday morning at 9am pst. Tweet him at @Reillyaround