Both Marvel and DC have been at the top of the movie world for well over a decade now, with comic book movies being the biggest/most consistent box office draw currently out there. This has been evident as MCU and DCU films have sat atop "most anticipated" lists for years, with these super-powered adventures lining the pockets of Disney and Warner Bros. handsomely.
However, talk of superhero fatigue has been prescient as of late. Directors like Sam Raimi have come out saying "superhero overdose" is a problem amongst creatives who are closely involved in these sorts of projects, and the likes of Dune's Denis Villeneuve have said that these films are turning audiences into "zombies."
While fans of these costumed blockbusters have come out in support of their favorite heroes, it turns out there may be some validity in these thoughts of fatigue setting in, or at least that is if some new numbers are to be believed.
Superhero Fatigue Could Become a Problem
According to a new study conducted by Fandom, via Variety, over one-third of Marvel fans are getting fatigued with the MCU, compared to only one-fifth of DC fans saying the same about the DCU.
The study took a deep dive into the comic book movie fandom, drawing on 5000 entertainment and gaming fans between the ages of 13 and 54 years as well as "proprietary insights" from Fandom's online platform and wikis.
It presented a few key findings, including some major differences between Marvel and DC fans. It found that 81% of those who closely associate with Marvel are more like to seek out any and every MCU project, whereas, only 67% of DC fans would do the same for their respective movies and shows.
The DC fanbase is more likely to consume TV or films based around a specific superhero, with 57% of DC fans being focused on one or two characters compared to 38% of Marvel fans.
The study assumes that this is the main reason why 36% of MCU fans are feeling superhero fatigue, simply because they are more inclined to take in everything the franchise produces. Meanwhile, 20% of DC fans say they feel the same effect, likely because they are more likely to see less simply because they are only following one specific character.
Fandom found that each fanbase could be broken down into four segments: the Advocates, Intentionalists, Culturalists, and Flirts.
Advocates are those who are the most embedded in the particular brand. These are audience members who are "deeply invested in the IP” to the point that they find the brand makes up a part of who they are.
Intentionalists are the bulk of each particular fanbase, being those who won't seek everything out and can be swayed by marketing or critical reception. This group will most likely see any new content within the first two weeks or so, but do not have to be there on opening day.
The Culturlists are “heavily influenced by the buzz” around any particular release. This group sees these experiences as opportunities to connect with friends and family, rather than the IP itself.
And lastly, the Flirts are those that will dabble here and there. They will come and go from franchise IP, taking things in when they have time rather than what the world around them is telling them to do.
Marvel was proven to have more Advocates and Intentionalists than DC, with the two groups making up 66% of the Marvel fanbase, while that number is only 61% at DC.
Are People Really Getting Tired of Superheroes?
Seeing these numbers may shock some people, especially those who are still as pumped as ever to head out to the theater or turn on their favorite streamer to take in the next comic book epic, but it does make a bit of sense.
Like anything, eventually the superhero movie trend with fall out of fashion. The business of Hollywood is cyclical. At some point or another, this bubble will have to pop, and the MCU and DCU will likely have to go the way of the spaghetti western or the big-budget musical. Fads pass.
However, it doesn't feel like that is going to happen at least in the near future. Both Marvel Studios and DC Studios have to be acutely aware that this isn't going to last forever (as much as they want it to). The key to extending the lifespan of this wave of genre film will be the studios continuing to "push the envelope," and these high-ranking executives know that.
It is fascinating to see the disparity of fatigue stats between Marvel and DC fans though. And it makes a lot of sense as to why the MCU fanbase as a whole may be getting a little more tied than those on the DC side of things.
MCU fans have had plenty to eat in recent years, with an abundance of content to enjoy from year to year. That has not been the case with DC, as Warner Bros. is only just now starting to roll out plans to one day saturate the marketplace as Marvel Studios has.
One thing is for certain, though the end of comic book movies may come someday, that day is still far off on the horizon.