The Traditional Era
Coming into the new millennium, superhero films went through drastic changes to keep up with the demand for more action films. Gone was the “cheesy” humor and gone was the whole notion of fun over drama. For the next decade, Marvel took the industry by storm and introduced each of their popular stars in films of their own. Starting with X-Men and Spider-Man, these action packed flicks were still humorous at times, but instead of simply being a mask and costumes, true origin stories and angst came forward.
This was the era where the rise of a superhero and what it meant to be one came into light, or in other words, the definition of today’s traditional superhero. The whole process of starting out human and discovering your potential, responsibilities, and powers gave these superheroes a sort of humanity that was not seen before. Amongst all the explosions arose somewhat three-dimensional characters, including that of the villains, who were up to this point evil just to be evil. Granted, the camp and quirkiness of it all was still there, but it was kept second to the action.
Another characteristic among these films were that the female characters were mostly two-dimensional. Not so much in that every female ended up being a damsel in distress and the Achilles’ heel to their respective savior, but the women with superpowers themselves ended up being two-dimensional as well. This comes as no surprise as these films were made for the male audience, especially the younger ones. They wanted to give the impression of the traditional strong male protecting their woman, their city, and their responsibilities. In this era, men didn’t cry, they punched.
Then Spider-Man 3 came along with a nod to the past novelty era. The camp was there, the quirkiness was there, and the cheesiness was obvious to all audiences and their mothers. Needless to say, this movie was not well-received, but it did at least try something different. It was trying to mix in the darkness with the humor, but the result turned out to be something just ridiculous to watch. This “darkness” however, made way for the next era.
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