The superhero genre has become tedious, saturated by a deluge of repetitive films. These films still make a lot of money, but that may not last forever. Audiences are beginning to reject sequels and reboots, and superhero movies could be next if studios can’t figure out how to reinvigorate the lucrative business.
But Hollywood, ever the bulwark of self-preservation, appears to have adapted. The 2017 superhero slate is filled with what promise to be fresh, diverse stories that enliven the monotony of a genre grounded in same-y heroes. Sony Pictures dropped a trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming last night, the first of its kind with an age-appropriate title character and a cast that actually looks like Queens, New York, where the story is set.
Sony, which has owned the cinematic rights to Marvel’s Spider-Man character since the 1990s, enlisted the help of Marvel to devise a new vision for the friendly neighborhood web slinger after the ill-fated The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In return, Sony will now allow Marvel to use Spidey in its cinematic universe. (He already appeared briefly in Captain America: Civil War).
The film’s title is a double entendre: “Homecoming” refers to both Peter Parker’s literal high school homecoming dance and also Spider-Man’s return to the Marvel universe.
With the major caveat that this is the second full reboot of Spider-Man this decade, Homecoming looks genuinely fun, and marks the first time that the character will be portrayed as he was in the comics: an awkward, wise-ass teenager who has to juggle these crazy abilities with his everyday responsibilities and social pressures, like going to the homecoming dance.
And after the exceedingly grim tone of 2016’s Batman v Superman, 2017 looks like it’ll be a lot more fun for superheroes. Both Marvel and rival studio DC have films on their schedules that could revitalize the genre:
- The filmmakers of Justice League have promised a more colorful, jokey film after Batman v Superman, and so far the trailers look like they’re making an earnest effort.
- Logan, another Marvel character whose film rights are owned by a different studio (20th Century Fox), looks like an interesting and original spin on Wolverine.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes out, the sequel to one of the most unabashedly amusing superhero films ever.
- We’ll finally get a major superhero film with a heroine: Wonder Woman, which looks the most promising of all.
Looking further ahead, into 2018 and 2019, Black Panther, The Flash, Aquaman, and Captain Marvel could help to sustain the genre’s momentum. It’s dark days for those of us bored by the current state of the superhero, but better days are ahead.