Movies: fame and glory to a remnant of the past


Graphic by Koko Grundler

“I don’t see them,” legendary film director Martin Scorsese said, regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “I tried, you know? But [Marvel] is not cinema.”

Wiser words have never been spoken. One could even take Scorsese’s comments further. It would not be that far of a stretch, perhaps none at all, to extend those words to all movies in the superhero genre. Many movies nowadays, including both Marvel and DC, are worsening and becoming more bland.

Movies are meant to surprise you. However, movies nowadays, especially Marvel, are not new nor are they exciting. The same tropes are being recycled: big bad villains want to hurt people, good avengers save the world and New York City gets destroyed in the process. And if it is not New York City that gets destroyed, it is either Los Angeles, Seattle or some random Tennessee small town — yes, that is a reference to “Iron Man 2.”

However, it has not always been this way. Let us leave 2022 for a bit and return to a time long gone — the ‘80s and ‘90s. Pop music, arcades, bell-bottom jeans and, most importantly, the dawn of the “Action Movie.” While it could reasonably be argued that action movies existed long before the 1980s — an example being the pop culture phenomenon “Star Wars” — the ‘80s is when action movies came into the limelight. 

In that time, movies like “The Matrix,” “Terminator,” “Top Gun,” “Die Hard” and countless other action movies dominated cinema. While these movies all had elements of combat and pressure situations, they were all unique, with a certain feel to each of them. Watching movies from that time felt like something special — every movie was different and amazing in its own way. 

Take the movie “Top Gun:” it is filled with action shots of “dog fighting” — fighter plane combat — and is very inspiring. In the movie, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (played by renowned actor Tom Cruise) starts the film as a trailblazer, but, throughout the movie, the audience sees his personal growth in handling emotional turmoil when it comes to loved ones. Underneath all the thrilling moments, “Top Gun” is guised as a romance movie, with many meaningful moments between all characters.  

The biggest problem with superhero movies today is that they have lost their meaningful touch. There was a time when every DC fan lined up to watch Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, with all of the respective movies being overflowed with character development: one could see Bruce Wayne’s fight with his past and his battle with his current self. What made these movies incredible was that they portrayed personal growth and sacrifice. In essence, they were realistic commentary on common societal issues. 

For example, “The Dark Knight Rises” echoed the “Occupy Wall Street” movement of that time. However, Marvel movies today lack this element that once gave them so much life. 

Take “Thor: Love and Thunder”. It is a fantastic movie to enjoy if you pay no attention to the plot. It is jam-packed with all the superhero tropes that are either loved or hated by everyone. Undeniably, though, it had no meaning, or at least if it did, the humorous and action-packed aspects took a whole lot more of the screen time. 

The superhero movies of the past are gone for now, replaced by cheesy plots that make you watch the movie twice to gain an understanding of what is going on. Both Marvel and DC need to recapture the magic of heroes, or else movies based on realism will engulf Hollywood, leaving no space for our favorite superheroes.