In an earlier piece I pointed out how moribund the Star Wars/Star Trek franchises had become, and despite the endless movies, TV shows, and novels produced in these worlds, they provided nothing new, exciting, or interesting for the consumer.
Wonder Woman: June 2017 Release
When it comes to past-their-prime franchises, I left out the oldest and most tiresome of all: our current crop of superheroes. Despite minuscule, temporary alterations in powers, relationships, retconned origin stories, outfits, and even gender, these DC/Marvel science fiction genre titans are unchanged. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, Daredevil, Thor, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and all the rest have been static for decades.
Spider-Man: Homecoming: July 2017 Release
They get movies and Netflix series and comic books and network shows and they just won’t die and we keep shelling out money to the same people to tell us the same stories over and over again so we can continue to marinate in nostalgia instead of telling today’s stories with heroes and villains born of today’s travails.
Thor: Ragnarok: November 2017 Release
The entertainment execs know this. There’s a near-guaranteed return on an investment in a well-trodden franchise. Why gamble when the punters are just throwing their money at you no matter what you grind out, as long as Spider-Man’s name is on it?
Justice League: November 2017 Release
A healthy, vibrant culture doesn’t overindulge in nostalgia, endlessly gnawing the bones of stories told to other people of other times (other children, actually, but I understand that comic book heroes aren’t just for kids anymore). It’s not just that these stories are no longer relevant, but they act like a cultural dam for today’s stories, keeping them from the mainstream. As long as you tell the execs with your wallet that all you want are aging franchise pieces, then that’s all everyone’s going to get. You don’t get to complain about Baby Boomers when you spend so much money on Boomer nostalgia. Television’s got a thousand channels and nothing to watch? Not quite. It’s got a thousand MCU/DC shows and nothing to watch.
Black Panther: February 2018 Release
I understand that for decades it wasn’t cool to know about Dr Strange and now they’re making multi-million dollar blockbuster movies about him and now it is cool. I get it. I was a fan, too. And the superhero genre still has life in it: the vigilante themes, the savior themes, the transformation themes, etc. But Hollywood has wrung every last drop of creative juice from yesterday’s heroes, and it’s time for us to stop putting our lips to the rag, hoping for a drink. Today’s stories, your stories, the stories of Generations X and Y aren’t being told.
The Flash: March 2018 Release
The bottom line is that this is your culture, and you’re putting it in the hands of people who, for the most part, are perfectly happy steering it into the gutter as long as you pay the freight. Captain America fought Nazis. His story’s over. Maybe you’d like to read The Infidel instead: it’s a bit more current and rather less politically correct than giving Thor tits and sending her off to save the world for 3rd Wave Feminism.