Against The Superhero Fatigue Argument


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Are audiences experiencing “superhero fatigue”? At the outset it should be noted in passing that this sickness unto death, this alleged superhero fatigue, is a year old argument. That would make it a manageable medical condition, this superhero fatigue. The studios have not, so far as I know, called a halt to all the superhero movies presently in the pipeline. Quite the contrary, it would seem. In the next few years there will be another Iron Man film, another “Avengers film,” another “Thor,” “Wolverine” and even “Captain America.” And that’s just a handful of the Marvel-based characters getting another close-up. It would seem that reports about the death of superhero films are a bit exaggerated.

Second, even before this summer began, critics were diagnosing this alleged malady, finding symptoms of this superhero fatigue in every box office underperform.  They even went so far as to diagnose superhero fatigue in films that were commercially successful – but not box office smashes. Their measure of the success of a superhero film, it would seem, was to be wildly successful or risk fall into – and here I cannot resist the reference — the negative zone. It is almost as if a certain type of critic, perhaps one that didn’t grow up on comic books, perhaps one who finds their mythology odious, is engaging what can only be properly construed as a form of wish fulfillment. Any excuse to hasten the genre’s demise.

Despite the glut of death-of-the-superhero-movie-genre stories online, by normally intelligent film writers mind you, the numbers, quite frankly, do not support their argument.  “The Avengers” is the third highest domestic and globally earning film of all time.” The Amazing Spider-Man,” released in July, has made over $260 million domestically. And “The Bourne Legacy” – superhero-ish, to be sure  — which underperformed in its release, broke $103.7 million in week five.

Rewind to one year ago, at the origin of the superhero fatigue.  Yes, many superhero movies have underperformed in the past year or so — I’m looking at you, “Green Lanter”n — many more, however, did well.  But there is always a tendency to go for the snarky post, especially when it involves Nick Cage playing Ghost Riser. There was – and I can think of no other way to say this – an almost villainous delight in the spectacular failure of Green Lantern. In some of the reviews one can almost hear the devilish laughter and the twisting of mustaches as the critics concocted this superhero fatigue meme out of naught else but thin air and their own personal distaste for the whole superhero genre. An entire multi-billion dollar act of escapist entertainment cannot be laid to rest on the shoulders of Ryan Reynolds.

It was a rough summer. With the usual distractions of electronic devices, 24/7 cable and the Olympics – real life superheroes this summer  – there were plenty of reasons to stay home and not buy a ticket at the cineplex. This was also, more to our present timeline, not a good week for the movie industry. A recent week saw the lowest cumulative ticket sales in a decade. The top film – “The Possession” – took in less than ten million in its opening weekend. Further, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on soda over 16 ounces – if it becomes as influential around the country as his indoor smoking ban – could really eat into movie theater revenues.  These three examples may be why the chorus of superhero naysayers appears to be growing rather than receding, becoming emboldened despite the genre’s solid numbers. It was a bad week for all films, not just those involving super-powers and cosmic adventures in spandex and elaborate origin backstory.

“The Dark Knight Rises,” though not as financially as successful as the previous Chris Nolan Batman films, was still a success. Not only that, but “Dark Knight Rises” had, no pun intended, an incredible uphill climb. “The Dark Knight Rises,” which had one of the most challenging opening weekends of any film ever, has a cumulative box office of over $437 million by September 9th, and is on track to pull in a half a billion dollars. That is not bad for an entertainment experience that involved, in its first few weeks, a serious police presence around the nation as well as, in some cases, intrusive bag searches.

It was indeed a cruel summer for movies. But the superhero genre, spawned from the comics of our youth, has faced tougher adversaries than the web, the fall TV schedule or even a soda ban by a super-villainous Mayor who essentially bought his office (cue the devilish laughter). The superhero film genre is just getting its second wind. And I can’t wait.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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