Superhero movies – Batman, Cowboys & Aliens and co cash in on global crisis

Posted on 31 July 2011
By Matt Barden
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This summer has already seen the Green Lantern, Captain America, Thor and the X-Men smash, fly and super power their way onto the Silver Screen.

Not content with this hero onslaught, Hollywood is busy fitting new capes, stocking up caves and tailoring spandex for a further invasion of super hero movies bounding over the foreseeable future.

Popularity is at an all time high, so much so that franchises like Batman, Spiderman and Superman are being rebooted altogether to give fans the ‘perfect’ flick.

The social and economic climate has helped their meteoric rise. Superhero movies tend to prosper in times of hardship, with their high escapism and heroic individuals who can save the world all by their lonesomes.

So with global economies threatening to slip back into recession, natural disasters grabbing headlines alongside the daily reports of rising crime rates, it’s very tempting to escape for a few hours watching a caped crusader save the world while we munch down some popcorn and dream.

Captain America took over $110 million at the US box office, while Thor took over $180 million and X-Men over $140 million.

Film studios are looking to cash in on the vulnerability of a world that is still reeling from the effects of the 9/11 attacks and the ongoing war on terror.

Adapting to the political landscape Chris Nolan had Bruce Wayne fighting the terrorist organisation The League of Shadows rather than his more conventional super villains and the X-Men recently battled against Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw, who deviously tries to initiate the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the coming months and into next year we will see The Amazing Spiderman, The Avengers, Superman, Batman, John Carter, Judge Dredd and Ghost Rider hit our screens.

While further ahead than that there are movies for Iron Man, The Flash, JLA, Ant-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, Nick Fury, Silver Surfer, Kick Ass 2, Magneto and Sub-Mariner in the pipe line.

But it’s not just super powered heroes aiming to smash the box office; traditional heroes are being given a revamp too. Jon Farveau’s Cowboys & Aliens, staring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig (Hans Solo and Bond in one film, we’re excited too…) is released this month.

While not your traditional Western, the graphic novel based film returns to the idea of the vigilante, serving his own form of justice, often illegally, when the authorities let the good people down.

Vigilante justice films should see a rise in popularity, with Obama’s handling of the Osama Bin laden capture showing that people want results by any means, not always the diplomatic route, and what they really want is a hero.

While the real world needs saving super hero movies will keep getting the green light, and as the situations get bleaker with no sign of governments or authorities being able to help, vigilante films will ride alongside them as an alternative option.