April Might Have A Superhero Problem
We've reached a point where comic book movies are no longer a once a year treat or even a seasonal affair. These kinds of cinematic stories have become so popular over the last decade that not only are several studios churning out one or several of them each year, but they also feel comfortable releasing them outside of the usual summer window. Which brings us to an interesting predicament in 2019: April, usually one of the quieter months for movies, is bringing forth three comic book movies: Shazam!, Hellboy and Avengers: Endgame, and that could result in an oversaturation problem.
Three comic book companies are being represented on the big screen in April: Shazam! for DC, Hellboy for Dark Horse and Avengers: Endgame for Marvel. All three of these movies have wildly different stories and, to a lesser extent, tones, so at least moviegoers won't be getting one rehash after another. Still, it is strange that these three are all opening within weeks of each other, and this lineup didn't even exist until recently.
Shazam!'s release date, April 5, has been set in stone for a long time, but Hellboy had originally been slated to come out this Friday, only to be moved to April 12 last September. Avengers: Endgame was initially supposed to come out May 3, but, just like it did for Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel moved Endgame up a week, to April 26. Now that we find ourselves in this predicament, how will each of these movies be affected, if at all?
Let's start with Shazam!, one of the first DC Extended Universe movies to be announced back in late 2014. Repeatedly described as "Big, but with super powers," Billy Batson's origin story looks to be a humorous and lighthearted entry within this superhero universe, and since it's arriving five months after Aquaman (which has been doing gangbusters at the box office), maybe that will help draw in even larger crowds. Shazam! also has the benefit of coming out at the beginning of April, so while it will eventually have to contend with Hellboy and Avengers: Endgame later in the month, they won't interfere with its opening weekend.
That being said, it's possible that Shazam!'s performance could be affected by the presence of a different Captain Marvel, as the World's Mightiest Mortal was originally known. Carol Danvers' Marvel Cinematic Universe origin story opens in early March, and if this movie performs anything like Black Panther or Avengers: Infinity War did last year, people might still be checking it out a month after its release, which could in turn pivot people away from Shazam! But there's no guarantee that will happen, and since Shazam! is definitely a bigger release than its opening weekend competition, Pet Sematary (unless that happens to do IT numbers), then the Big Red Cheese should be fine.
Moving on to Hellboy, this is definitely the movie that stands the biggest chance of crashing and burning. Although Big Red led two of his own movies last decade and they earned a lot of positive reception, neither of those them made that much at the box office, which is ultimately the reason why Guillermo del Toro was never able to make Hellboy III. Hellboy is also arguably Dark Horse Comics' most well-known property, but even that doesn't mean much compared to the likes against Marvel and DC.
Shazam may not be one of the A-list DC Comics heroes, but at least he has the benefit of being part of an existing franchise. While this Hellboy reboot is undoubtedly intended to be the first of a new film series or perhaps even an entire cinematic universe, as much as the character and his mythology has a dedicated fanbase, it's still overall a niche following. Now that Shazam! is opening a week ahead of time, it's possible that some of the audience that missed out on Shazam! opening weekend will check it out instead of Hellboy. The David Harbour-starring vehicle definitely stands at a disadvantage, which is a shame because questionable tone aside, it is different from the usual cinematic superhero fare we receive.
Finally, there's Avengers: Endgame, the final chapter of the MCU's Phase 3. If you thought Avengers: Infinity War was a gargantuan release, Endgame is expected to meet that level or surpass it, and we don't even know any specific story details yet. Whether you like the MCU or not, this is the biggest superhero franchise around, and Endgame is the culmination of so many events and plot threads from the last decade. It may be opening at the end of April now, but Endgame should still be considered the kickoff of the summer movie season.
Shazam! and Hellboy may be preceding Avengers: Endgame, but the effect those two movies will have on it will be slim to none. The MCU has too many dedicated fans, and considering how Avengers: Infinity War ended, you can be sure that nearly all of the people who saw that movie, whether they're hardcore Marvel enthusiasts or general moviegoers, will want to know how that story wraps up. But hey, Infinity War wasn't directly preceded by any superhero movies, so perhaps Endgame will fare differently.
Ultimately, it would have been better if these movies had opened on different months, but unless there's an abrupt, last minute change, that's not going to happen. And it's not like we haven't been in a situation similar to this before; Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Aquaman opened within a week of each other in December, and they both did well for themselves. Perhaps Shazam!, Hellboy and Avengers: Endgame can still all be successful in their own ways. But if I have to pick the movie that stands the best chance of being hindered by this April lineup, it's Hellboy. It's sandwiched between two superhero heavy hitters, and that's a problem.
We're only several months away from seeing how this all pans out, but if you're looking forward to Shazam!, Hellboy and/or Avengers: Endgame, make sure you pay to see them in theaters to show your support. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest updates concerning these movies and other upcoming comic book adaptations. If you're interested in learning what else is coming out this year, head to our 2019 release schedule.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.