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Comic Book Movie Fatigue is Setting In – New Industry Study Finds

4 Minute Read
Nov 18 2022

Finding it hard to get excited by the mass amount of comic book movies and shows available these days? You’re not alone.

The weariness many fans feel this year has been quantified in a new study by the massive pop culture wiki site Fandom. The site surveyed 5,000 entertainment and gaming fans between 13 and 54 years old. They also used “proprietary insights” from the platform of over 300 million monthly users across 250,000 different wikis.

Breaking Down the Data

Fandom broke down the types of fans into four groups based on their involvement and how quickly they watch/play new releases.

– Advocates are deeply invested & very engaged; they see things opening weekend/drop (Marvel, Star Wars, and DC fans fall here)
– Intentionalists make up the largest group; they see things within two weeks
– Culturalists are heavily swayed and influenced by buzz; they see things within a month
– Flirts are the least engaged audiences; they see things when they can

The study found that the community is split nearly 50/50 between the most involved and the minor active groups, but it’s clear which segments the studios want the hold on most. We drop the most money – not just on seeing movies and streaming service subscriptions. Advocates buy merch and go to theme parks.

via Fandom (click image to enlarge)

Where Comic Book Movie Fans Stand

When you dig into the numbers, the results show what many folks have been thinking since End Game hit theaters – the excitement isn’t there anymore. There’s too much, and the whole ‘everything is connected’ plan is starting to fail.

The big takeaway with DC fans is not surprising – they’re character-based. Those surveyed (57%) said they want more stand-alone projects with characters they love. They don’t want DC to take cues from Marvel’s connected universe. Fans want Superman and Batman, the household names of the publisher. That bears out when you look at the box office for Black Adam, which DC was hoping would smash post-pandemic records. It was overshadowed by casting news for Superman that had nothing to do with the $195 million movie they wanted fans to see.

Over a third of Marvel fans surveyed feel exhausted from the constant stream of content on Disney+ and in theaters. But they’re also more likely to watch any project (81% of them) from Marvel Studios, whether they know the characters involved or not. Only 38% of Marvel fans said they follow particular characters. That’s a mixed bag for the upcoming phase with a mix of new and known characters (not a big deal for fans), but it jams a lot in two years.

Comic Book Movies marvel phase 5 titles


The State of Things

The theater business is struggling in a post-pandemic world, so no movie makes what would have been expected several years ago. Comic book movies aren’t making billions (except No Way Home), but they still make hundreds of millions. Business is ok, but no one can claim it’s making a swift recovery.

Pop culture trends come in cycles that last a decade or less, but this is the first we’ve had with streaming being a significant component. We’ve had about 15 years of comic book movie (mostly Marvel) saturation with two years of streaming shows. Marvel hopes folks will fork over their money for new stories until at least May of 2026. DC’s grand plan isn’t public at the moment, but CEO David Zaslav has promised a ten-year plan that looks like the one Marvel is running – that the fans say they don’t want.

The successes we’ve seen this year lie in other genres. Top Gun: Maverick was the movie of the summer. The sequel (nearly 40 years removed from the original that has no superheroes, galactic villains, and a minimal amount of CG shots) raked almost 1.5 billion this summer. Original horror is trending up this year with movies like Nope, Smile, Barbarian, and Terrifier 2. Non-franchise movies are getting butts back in theater seats. High fantasy has taken over streaming with shows like Rings of Power, Wheel of Time, Willow, and House of the Dragon.

It’s been a good run, but this intense era of comic book movies seems to be winding down. It’ll be interesting to see what audiences grab onto next. I’m hoping for a decade of boundary-pushing hard sci-fi that isn’t a rehash of what’s come before. How about you?

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