Between the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe, and DC’s about-to-blow-up Extended Universe, superhero movies have become ubiquitous at the movie theater these days. As you might expect, this comes with some backlash. Steven Spielberg’s recent comments on the genre made headlines, and now it’s Terry Gilliam’s turn to chime in, and though he likes Ant-Man, he thinks they have one big problem, they're too predictable.
In recent, not to mention extensive, interview with Live Talks Los Angeles, the Brazil director and Monty Python member said:
I also worry when things become so repetitive, and now we’ve got to get all the Marvel universe dancing with each other, so Superman has now got to make love to Batman or something. And these are the things that create that complete and hermetically sealed world, [and that] really bothers me, because the Bible is more interesting, and the stories are more surprising, and actually more human.
Terry Gilliam isn’t alone in thinking that superhero movies have become rather same-y — hopefully the studios have received the message, and it looks like maybe they have, as at least a handful are moving away from the origin-story-heavy tropes. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t going to be an origin story, Doctor Strange will reportedly eschew that cliché, and the new Marvel Spider-Man movie won’t show us Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider or Uncle Ben dying for the third time in recent memory, which is nice. It does look like they’re at least trying to change the formula to a degree — baby steps.
But just because Gilliam thinks superhero movies are largely unsurprising, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ones he likes. He remarked that he watched the Paul Rudd-fronted Ant-Man on the plane on the way to this event and enjoyed it. Still, even though he called it "brilliant" from a technical standpoint and said there is "a lot of really good stuff in there," he admitted that it, too, was predictable, and that he prefers to be surprised.
As usual, listening to Terry Gilliam talk, about anything really, is a treat, and though this interview clocks in at just over an hour, it’s totally worth checking out.
Steven Spielberg compared superhero movies to the western. That once massively popular genre has essentially died out, and he predicted the same thing for this new wave. But there were decades where countless good westerns were churned out by the studios, and even though it is not what it once was, there are still interesting, inventive westerns being made. Maybe that’s the path superhero movies will follow — we’ll have a few great years, a decline, then they’ll find a steady niche ripe for reevaluation. Over the next few years, we’ll certainly get the chance to see if the public’s appetite for the spandex-and-tights set has dimmed, as those bad boys are going to be everywhere.