A couple of years back when the Green Lantern motion picture was released, some critics complained that there were “too many superhero movies,” and that by the time GL hit the theaters, moviegoers were suffering from “superhero fatigue.” “We just can’t take this many superhero movies in one summer,” said one commentator.

Now, we can debate the quality of the film, which is fine. But I’m intrigued that we’re not hearing about “superhero fatigue” nearly as much this year.

I’m referring to The Wolverine, which debuted this past weekend to $55 million, below what industry “experts” estimated it would make. It took in $30 million less than the previous Wolverine film. (Now, the movie did much better overseas.)

This summer, we had Iron Man 3, which is likely to be the highest-grossing film of the year. Then came Man of Steel, which has done very well, now taking in more than $630 million around the world to date.

I’m intrigued that The Wolverine isn’t getting nearly the number of catcalls that Green Lantern did, that by now, moviegoers don’t want any more superhero films this summer.

If I were a conspiracy guy, I’d think that Disney, who now owns Marvel, did their best to torpedo GL, but won’t do the same for a film containing one of Marvel’s best-known characters. But I’m not, so I don’t worry about such things.

THE MANY SHAPES AND SIZES OF WOLVERINE

Hugh Jackman, Wolverine, Marvel, Spider-Man, Batman, Green Lantern, Iron ManAs a long-time comics reader, I’m also fascinated by how Wolverine has changed over the years.

Of course, he wore a very different costume when he first appeared, battling the Hulk. (See the image to the left.)

Then, when John Byrne took over Uncanny X-Men, I noticed that Wolverine seemed shorter, was furry all over, chomping cigars, ending every sentence with “Bub,” and against taking baths, which other mutants commented on.

Now, if you have seen the recent Wolverine anime, he’s tall, lanky, smooth-skinned, with no cigars or “Bubs” to be found. Not only that, he looks like a young adult wearing fashionable outfits. What happened?

My favorite hero is Batman. He’s had a great many incarnations, on TV to animated shows to comics. I like many of them, but not all. (I despised The Batman on Kids WB. After watching Batman: The Animated Series, it was like seeing my best friend after his lobotomy. Painful!)

I figure the same thing has happened to Wolverine. Depending on the creator working on him, Logan has “mutated” into different variations of the same guy.

WHAT ABOUT WOLVERINE’S POPULARITY?

Is Wolverine’s star fading? Well, Batman has also had his up’s and down’s. Just before the release of Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, DC actually was ready to cancel Detective Comics, but they thought better of it. I remember reading with horror about Nocturna, a vampire Batman had taken a liking to. The last we saw of her was in a hot-air balloon vanishing into a red sky. (May she stay there forever!)

It seems that the X-Men and Wolverine aren’t quite the popular people they used to be. But I don’t expect that to last long. Batman’s on an up-tick right now, so I figure Wolverine will be back, as popular as ever soon. He has appeared on Ultimate Spider-Man on Disney XD a couple of times and has been the leader of the X-Men in a recent cartoon, so I know Disney is keeping an eye on him, waiting for the right time to re-establish him with the public. Still, Wolvie’s claws can’t really rip and tear into a villain with the kids watching now, can they!

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN AREN’T GOING AWAY ANY TIME SOON

The reviews for The Wolverine have been mixed, and that might also have contributed to the drop in income for the movie. I understand that the economy isn’t so great, so people are using reviewers now more than they previously did to decide whether they’ll go see a film or not. Personally, I’d rather go myself if I have any interest at all.

Still, the film landed in the top spot, and the company making the movie (and the other X-films) is planning to continue the franchise, so you can look forward to more Hugh Jackman with his claws coming your way soon! “Superhero fatigue?” Nahhhh!

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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3 Comments

  1. aerohalen1
    July 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm — Reply

    i dont think it is comic book fatigue.i think it is wolverine/x-men fatigue.

  2. Oldcomicfan
    July 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm — Reply

    I would agree. I also suspect that both Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner Bros. are falling into the trap that nearly doomed the Spiderman Movie franchise – one villain is good, so let’s add three more!!! Iron Man and Avengers were great, so let’s pull out all the second stringers and make movies about them, too! Gardians of the Who? Batroc the What? The Avengers worked in spite of Hawkeye and Black Widow, not because of them. Batman did great at the box office, so they pulled out Green Lantern – and botched it big time. Man of Steel did pretty darned good, so now let’s pull out the Justice League and Aquaman and…. whoa, fellas! In my opinion they shouldn’t make a comic book movie unless the book is selling like hotcakes, they have a great story to base the movie off of, and the producers and directors understand and have a great love of the source material. Two out of the three just won’t suffice. We’re not ordering off a Chinese restaurant menu, here.

    And what you say about the economy is true also. Given that movie tickets have almost tripled in price in the last two years – and given that our local theater soft drinks cost $4.75 for a 75¢ coke and popcorn costs $7.50 for a small bag, I can’t afford to go to every movie that merely interests me. I’ll go and see a Hobbit, or an Avengers, or a Star Trek, but I won’t go to see a Guardians of the Galaxy, a Pacific Rim or a Lone Ranger. I’ll wait for the DVD which may cost me a bit more than the movie ticket, but I won’t go broke buying snacks, and I can get a heck of a lot more mileage out of the disk, too.

    But to get back to the notion of comic book movie fatigue, I think aerohalen has it right. Every time a comic series gets real good and real popular, the publishers ruin it by diluting it across too many knock-off series, cross-overs, guest appearances and event books. X-men and Wolverine reached their peak of popularity over a decade ago, and it’s rather late to the game to be bringing out new movies now. DC is having much better luck with their animated movies than with the live action movies. They should stick to that, except for the occasional Superman and Batman movie. Marvel had great success with Avengers and Iron Man and Thor, but I am afraid they are going to drain the well dry before too long.

  3. b003
    July 31, 2013 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    You can never get enough of a good thing, that’s the problem. So many “Hero” movies just aren’t good.

    “Marvel had great success with Avengers and Iron Man and Thor…” but if you read the comics on a regular basis you know successful doesn’t necessarily mean good.
    I for one didn’t really like Thor or Iron Man.
    TREVOR, just sayin.

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