By Jayme Lozano
Rob Weiner, a Texas Tech librarian specializing in popular culture and humanities, has studied comic books, but the superhero trend confuses him.
“Whether they’re bad or excellent, these movies continue to draw people in,” Weiner said. “Usually, things come in cycles, and people get tired of them, but these blockbuster films based on Marvel or DC characters continue to draw in these large crowds.”
Weiner, who co-edited the upcoming book “Marvel Comics into Film,” said what in part attracts people to these films is a sense of escapism.
“You can escape into a world that is very much like our own, and yet it’s not,” Weiner said. “Even if it’s a bad movie, it takes them away from the problems they’re having for those two hours. In that way, just like with ‘Star Wars,’ it’s a gift the movie studios are giving us.”
The popularity of the films is apparent in how profitable they are. With Marvel’s “Deadpool” earning $132.7 million in its opening weekend, and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” earning $170.1 million — despite bad reviews — the superhero genre is bringing in record numbers with each release.
“I think superhero movies have been great for theaters,” said Michael Harper, a creative associate for Alamo Drafthouse. “It’s a genre that transcends groups. You really get a diverse array of people going to see these movies. It’s really something that everyone can get in to.”
Harper said superhero stories can transcend genres, appealing to everyone’s interests.
“You can have a spy movie like ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier,’ or dramas or detective stories,” Harper said. “There are just so many stories you can tell with superheroes because there’s so many out there. It has a broad appeal that can draw a lot of people in.”
Another reason for the genre’s popularity is the continuing improvement of special effects, according to Robert Mora, the owner of the local comic book shop Star Comics,
“With technology being able to make special effects somewhat believable, people can now take what they had to use their imagination for and see it on the big and little screen,” Mora said.
Star Comics is a family business. Mora grew up reading comics but knows the genre’s appeal is limited until its characters appear on the silver screen.
“Not everybody is interested in reading comics,” Mora said. “But as soon as it gets on television or the movies, you reach a much larger audience. The bigger the audience, the better. Because of the adaptations of the superhero movies, we see a diverse readership and fan base because the movies and TV can access all age groups, all genders and people.”
Even if the superhero movie trend eventually fades away, Mora said, it would not be the end of the superhero genre.
“We’re at a peak right now, and it’s going to have a valley,” Mora said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to disappear or be gone forever. There’s always going to be something else that the industry might start focusing their sights on and comics might take a little less prominent role, but they’re not going to disappear.”