I am so bloody tired of superhero movies.
Since Superman in 1978, every few years some corporate rights-holder wakes up in the morning with the notion of taking another spandex-clad lunatic or another and making the most epic (which is not a real term) action film ever. This is a function of movies being made by corporations, which grudgingly hire filmmakers because the suits don't actually want to spend the time writing, producing and directing if they can instead crunch some numbers. Let the "artists" do the grunt work.
The problem is that every last one of these products is exactly the same in its storytelling. Is there some variation in tone, in nuance, during the occasional scene? Sure. Are some better executed than others? No question. But find me one that doesn't follow the same freakin' formula and I'll be surprised.
There are essentially two kinds of superhero movies: Origin stories and mission stories. Origin stories, in which we find out how the person becomes Moose Man or Awesome Woman or whatever, follow the formula in which an underdog of some kind is kicked around enough to want to destroy evil, which tends to happen at the same time he/she/it is exposed to radiation (it's almost always radiation) and reaps the benefits thereof. Of course, there's always a price to pay for these new abilities, because we don't want the audience to envy our hero/ine so much admiration becomes resentment.
Oddly, there are no villains with amazing powers in the universe until our main character gains the ability to fly, swim, blast or otherwise match up. As soon as that happens, the place is lousy with them. And the inevitable battle ensues, testing our hero's mettle and forcing said character to face the truth about him/her/itself. Then there's a truly ridiculous amount of destruction while these two titans take each other on and our pal prevails while absolutely nobody concerns themselves with the rebuilding of entire cities and thousands of lives lost. Everybody goes home happy.
In the mission story, Amazing (Wo)man is already endowed with some nutty asset and is learning to deal with fame or power or just being able to have a girlfriend when some other mad scientist (how come they're never mad vinyl siding salesmen?) trying to save mankind instead experiments on himself (you'd think someone with a Ph.D from Harvard would know better) and not only goes nuts but also gains fists that contain rocket fuel and a digestive system that produces nuclear waste. And the inevitable battle ensues, testing our hero's mettle and forcing said character to face the truth about him/her/itself. Then there's a truly ridiculous amount of destruction while these two titans take each other on and our pal prevails while absolutely nobody concerns themselves with the rebuilding of entire cities and thousands of lives lost. Everybody goes home happy.
There are variations, of course. There's the superhero team movie, usually crammed with so many comic book characters that it's almost painful to watch the screenwriter jump through hoops trying to give everyone something to do. There's the superhero "comedy," in which all the same stuff as above happens, but the character is self-aware enough to realize s/he is in a silly plot and winks at the camera every once in a while.
And I am left sitting in my theater seat (which I sometimes occupy because the hype is impressive, because reviews have convinced me this one is different or because others want to go and I'm tired of being the wet blanket) wondering why the formula can't ever once be broken in a creative way.
Maybe it's aiming too high. When movies are made by those interested only in making money, the goal is to please unbelievably large numbers of people. Perhaps that many (because the movie costs so damn much to make that a group close to the population of the planet has to attend in order to make a profit) prefer not to see anything the least bit different.
Or maybe it's just that this has been working long enough that the bean counters see no reason to mess with success. You can't argue with that. The argument can be made that these massive tales of broken glass pay for some challenging independent films. Maybe they do.
But I used to love popcorn movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future. Those were made with an eye toward the box office, sure, but also because someone came up with a really good idea and wanted to see it executed in the best way possible. I'd like to be engaged by a summer movie again, one that would actually appeal to my imagination. One that doesn't require the destruction of entire cities to make its point.
Is that too much to ask?