- DC Studios’ co-CEO James Gunn said in a recent interview that superhero fatigue is real.
- The “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” director said audiences notice stories that aren’t grounded.
- Surveys from the last year highlight a growing level of “superhero fatigue,” even among Marvel fans.
The director of “Guardians of the Galaxy” knows that some movie-goers are experiencing “superhero fatigue” — and he thinks it all boils down to whether or not they’re watching a grounded story.
James Gunn, who is also co-CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery’s DC Studies, talked with Rolling Stone about the phenomena while discussing his final directorial installment of the Marvel series “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”
“I think there is such a thing as superhero fatigue,” Gunn told the magazine. “I think it doesn’t have anything to do with superheroes. It has to do with the kind of stories that get to be told, and if you lose your eye on the ball, which is character. We love Superman. We love Batman. We love Iron Man. Because they’re these incredible characters that we have in our hearts. And if it becomes just a bunch of nonsense onscreen, it gets really boring.”
Gunn, who is currently mapping out the next wave of DC’s films alongside Peter Safran, said in the interview that “emotionally grounded” plotlines that work in tandem with the beloved fanfare around certain characters — such as Batman and Superman — are key to wiping away this fatigue.
“I get fatigued by most spectacle films, by the grind of not having an emotionally grounded story,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with whether they’re superhero movies or not. If you don’t have a story at the base of it, just watching things bash each other, no matter how clever those bashing moments are, no matter how clever the designs and the VFX are, it just gets fatiguing, and I think that’s very, very real.”
Gunn isn’t alone in feeling superhero fatigue. A survey from last year found that interest in superhero movies was starting to dwindle among audiences, including among devoted Marvel fans.
The survey from Morning Consult, which polled 2,200 adults in November 2021 and in July 2022, found 58% of adults said they enjoyed superhero movies — a dip from the 64% who said they enjoyed the movie genre the year before.
Among Marvel fans, the survey found that fans who said they enjoyed superhero movies dropped from 87% to 82% over the same time period. Of that fanbase, 31% said they were “getting a little tired of so many” superhero movies.
Studios have been cranking out superhero movies because they’ve historically dominated the box office — but recent Marvel movies received the worst CinemaScore grades and critic reviews of the franchise.
Another survey from 2022 highlighted a similarly mounting level of fatigue. In the survey from pop-culture wiki platform Fandom, 35% of Marvel fans said they felt fatigue from the overload of superhero movies being released. While 84% of Marvel fans said there was too much content, 81% remained loyal, admitting they would consider seeing anything released by Marvel.