Why The Superhero Movie Craze Can Go On Forever, According To Wonder Woman’s Director

Gal Gadot Wonder Woman

It's a question that has been asked as long as superhero movies have been a prominent part of the film industry: when will the genre die out due to superhero fatigue? Some people seem to think that they day of reckoning for comic book characters on the silver screen is just around the corner, while others aren't so sure. Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins was recently asked that question while attending a panel at Anaheim WonderCon 2017, and she admitted that she thinks superhero movies can continue indefinitely because comic book characters are timeless modern myths. She explained:

That's the great thing about the diversity of superheroes, and one of the reasons why when people say 'Is the superhero thing gonna die?' or whatever, I always think it's so much bigger than that. It's not about superheroes. It's about the method of universal storytelling that all people have that is not of one religion, one thing, that America ended up inventing as a way to tell these metaphors about all different kinds of states of being. So to me, they're the same as the Greek myth, they're the same as the Roman myth, or religious figures of every religion. These are our common characters that we use to express stories about being a better person, or what you would do if you were faced with various things. So for me, that's an incredibly powerful thing. There's a million movies to be told with [these] common characters.

Petty Jenkins' comments at WonderCon should ring incredibly true to anybody who has ever defended the longevity of comic book movies. Superheroes and supervillains are not a passing trend; they are archetypes that have existed in fiction for decades, and they play a similar role in our society that myths played to the Greeks or Romans. Regardless of whether they come from Marvel or DC, these characters are representative of our shared experiences, and they have the ability to convey all sorts of universal messages. They're infinitely flexible, which means that the genre can persist forever.

You only need to look at one of the most familiar comic book characters of all time for an example of that phenomenon. Batman has existed in pop culture for the better part of eight decades, and countless artists have found numerous different ways to use him. He can be campy, he can be dark, he can be realistic and he can be borderline supernatural. It doesn't matter how he was portrayed when he first debuted in DC Comics; Batman has become a modern myth which can be remolded time and time again to create something brand new for a new generation, and that's something that applies to almost any superhero.

Adam West Batman Ben Affleck Batman

Going one step further, I think it is safe to say that "superhero" isn't even a genre label. Superhero movies exist, but they are often framed with other existing genres. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a political thriller, Ant-Man was a heist film, The Dark Knight was a crime drama and even Wonder Woman looks like a gritty war film. Superheroes can be applied to a wide variety of genres, and fit a large number of conventions, which mean that the options for using them are endless. On that note, if you think superhero movies are going to die out, it just means that you're not imaginative enough with how to use them.

Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman will debut in theaters on June 2. That said, if you are sick of superheroes, there are plenty of other non-comic book movies set to debut later this year that we're sure you will enjoy.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.