Why Superhero Movies Are So Popular, According To The Shazam! Filmmakers

Shazam! Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer DC Warner Bros.

Whether you love superhero movies or your name is James Cameron and you're waiting for "Avenger fatigue" to set in, there's no question superhero movies are more popular than ever. Sure, they can fail sometimes, just ask Fantastic Four. But more often than not, superheroes win and they win big. DC's Shazam! just joined the ranks of the winners with a solid #1 opening weekend at the box office.

Shazam! follows the $1 billion success of DC's Aquaman and the $1 billion success of Marvel's Captain Marvel, and precedes the probably $2+ billion success of Avengers: Endgame -- which itself follows the $2 billion success of Avengers: Infinity War. Phew! If you follow the money, it leads right to Marvel and DC.

But why? Why are comic book superheroes so popular right now? It's a question many have been asking, and Shazam! director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran shared their takes:

David F. Sandberg: Partly I think it's the wish fulfillment. And that's why I love Shazam! so much, because it's kind of the ultimate wish fulfillment with this kid getting to be a superhero.Peter Safran: And I think it's really about the great characters that populate a lot of the superhero movies. Each superhero movie is different than the other superhero movies. It's a large genre, but within it you have heist movies, you have comedies, you have pure action. So I think there's a lot of room.

I especially like Peter Safran's take to Collider. Because it's true, it's almost like Superhero has become its own genre like Comedy or Drama and there are subgenres within that go in many different directions. I also think good superhero movies inspire and elevate others -- competition is good for the market (until it isn't).

Hollywood is notorious for wanting to just copy what works, and right now superhero movies just work -- they not only make tons of money, they tend to be crowd and sometimes even critic pleasers. That leads to repeat viewing in theaters and also at home, which brings even more money.

David F. Sandberg has a background in horror, and CinemaBlend's own Mike Reyes recently asked him why he thinks horror directors make such good superhero films. After all, Shazam! is following in the footsteps of The Conjuring king James Wan's Aquaman, which is the highest-grossing DC Comics film yet. Sandberg had a pretty good answer on that.

Not everyone is thrilled with superhero movies flooding theaters, often pushing away anything that isn't Marvel or DC related. That could be an issue in the next couple of months, especially when theaters are going to want to have as many showings of Avenges: Endgame as possible.

What will that mean for any film not named Avengers: Endgame? Hopefully there's room for everyone, from superhero movies and other action blockbuster sequels (Star Wars: Episode IX, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, John Wick 3) to Disney's 9 million live-action remakes (see you soon, The Lion King and Aladdin) right down to original non-sequel movies. Like Us.

Speaking of horror directors and superhero movies, though, is there any way to drag Jordan Peele into the DC or Marvel universes? Or would it be better if steered clear?

For more Shazam! points to ponder, listen to ReelBlend's recent interview with David F. Sandberg and Peter Safran. The DCEU movie is now playing in theaters as one of the many movies to try and keep up with in 2019.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.