Superhero Hyperbole: If All Are Great, None Are

Just a short little post because, frankly, even I can churn this into a full-blown essay. Just a small observation I have made.

I was doing nothing serious today, just lazily reading a couple of articles and I stumbled upon this “gem” reporting on Mark Hamill’s very reasonable wish for better storytelling in superhero movies. Having just finished railing against Wonder Woman’s lack of history cred, I happen to agree. Until I came tot his little passage by the “reporter”:

Though there have been a lot of pretty great comic book movies this year,

Okay, that’s the second sentence, but that goes to show you the monumental nonsense at work here. To be fair, it is not just the author of this piece, but superhero fandom in general. Have you noticed how every film is the greatest ever? I mean outside of BvS, Suicide Squad, and Fant4stic, but those are the exceptions that proof the rule. Every single time a movie comes out it immediately gets placed on the top 10 list, it’s the new greatest hit, the best example of the genre yet.

And while I thought for a while that it was just an example of the youth of the genre, with five to eight movies every year being superhero-themed and the genre having been the mainstream blockbuster for a good decade and longer, it is time to stop and be more discerning in regards to what we consider good, great, bad, and every other element of the quality spectrum. We have good and bad figured out in regards to superheroes, but now it is time to stop with the hyperbole regarding the quality of these movies. If we want the genre to be taken serious, we need to treat the films in a serious way as well. That means being honest with the quality.

Not every single superhero film gets to be great. That’s perfectly fine by me. I’m okay with the majority of superhero films being okay. That’s the majority of everything. In fact, that’s the definition of average. Half of everything will be average, 25% will be below that, 25% will be above it on a 1 through 10 scale.

Remember the words of Syndrome from The Incredibles – an actually great superhero film: if everyone is super, no one is.


Author: Alex

Full time student, part time "writer" of things.

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