Given enough time, all the films in a specific genre start to resemble each other. That's what took down disaster movies from the Blockbuster Throne, and what will eventually ruin superhero movies, which Marvel alone is doing its level best to accelerate as we speak.
Luckily, I'm here to fix that issue in my patented "scream at the problem until it goes away or you get arrested" method. The way I see it, the superhero genre is flexible enough to survive, provided the filmmakers choose the right superheroes to focus on. There are tons of off-the-wall characters out there just waiting to be filmed, each providing a potential solution to certain issues that seem to plague nigh every superhero franchise. If it helps get the point across, feel free to read this article in the aforementioned screaming voice. And, for that matter, every article I have ever written or ever will write.
4The Phantom Would Fix The Superhero Immortality Issue
As Dave Bell previously pointed out, superhero movies suffer greatly from the fact that no one believes for a second that any major franchise character can die. Oh, there have been attempts to shock us -- I'm looking at you, Age Of Ultron-edition Quicksilver -- but they're mostly pretty predictable and, if the character is popular (lucrative) enough, ultimately reversible.
But what if we had a superhero that not only can die but is largely defined by the fact that, eventually, he will. I'm talking about The Phantom, Lee Falk's legendary 21st-generation crime-fighter whose great-great-great-ancestor got pissed off at pirates who attacked his ship off the coast of a fictional African country and inexplicably swore an oath that every eldest son in his family would spend his life fighting evil in a purple unitard.
In the interest of fairness, it's important to point out that this has already been a movie, but the 1996 The Phantom, starring Billy Zane (pictured above), isn't exactly the most sincere representation of the character. Or a movie. Or a story in general. In fact, let's just say that the only superhero movie from 1996 that matters is Matilda, because Mara Wilson will always be awesome, and we desperately want her to star in a modern, gritty sequel where she magics bad guys' heads clean off.
But here's the catch that would make The Phantom work in the current superhero movie atmosphere: The Phantom dies at the hands of his villains. He's done so no fewer than 20 times, with the next kid in line always picking up where dad checked out (and handily helping the rumor that the hero is immortal). With The Phantom, the whole "hero can't die" issue would be averted. Want to do a period piece set in the 1950s? Johnny Phantom-Actor is still playing the role, but now he's the grandpa of the current Phantom and will die in the most gruesome fucking way in the final showdown.
Which would add a welcome amount of tension to situations like this.
There are 21 canon Phantoms spread over four or five centuries, which means you can kill two in every movie and still have a decade-long string of summer blockbusters, all set in different eras. Locking an actor in a long contract means jack-shit spoiler-wise, because the same actor can play multiple versions of the character. A leading actor leaving the franchise is equally simple, because is there any role on Earth easier to recast than one spread over half a millennium and various people?
Oh, Marvel might start doing this anyway to their more high-profile -- and therefore expensive -- stars pretty soon. They've got a cheap future franchise figurehead in Spider-Man now, and we've all heard the rumors that Chris Evans' Captain America might follow his comic book counterpart and go belly-up in either Civil War or one of the future Avengers films with the 20,000 superheroes in them. Shit, I'll wager that the second they gain access to movie X-Men, a new, oddly fresh-faced Wolverine will turn up with a 10-movie contract (who Cracked's John Cheese insists must be played by CM Punk), at which point all first-phase Avengers can go hang. But that won't do anything to the surprise factor; we'll still know how many movies everyone has left in their contract. No one's going to die totally unexpectedly.
And, meanwhile, in the cinema next door, a pirate lord is gunning down his fifth Phantom of the week.
3The Sentry Would Explain The Portrayal Of Senseless Carnage
One of the main issues massive-scale superhero blockbusters suffer from is the mindless carnage that inevitably accompanies the heroes. Literally every problem on MCU Earth we've seen so far has been directly or indirectly caused by some combination of The Avengers. Every single Spider-Man movie features a villain with a personal connection to the hero. Zack Snyder's Superman is ... just basically a scowling mass-murderer. It's far too widespread a phenomenon to go away as long as these movies make money.
So let's go for the next best thing and at least try to justify the wanton destruction from a storytelling point of view. Enter The Sentry. He is essentially Marvel's version of Superman, with godlike powers that make Wolverine seem like the garden gnome that he is. In the comics, when The Hulk goes on a planetary-scale rampage, The Sentry is who everyone immediately attempts to call.
The fact that he looks a hell of a lot like Superman-beating Nuclear Man
from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace is probably juuuust a coincidence.
But here's the thing: While technically mostly a hero, The Sentry is also batshit insane. His powers are eating away at his sanity, and he suffers from various debilitating insecurities and phobias that make him unpredictable at best. This could well manifest itself as the kind of weird borderline sociopathic apathy toward wanton destruction every single other movie superhero seemingly has going, only his issues are real and integral parts of the character.
"Now, run before I eat your liver."
Shit, we already practically have a Sentry movie. It's called Man Of Steel, and boy, wouldn't all that brooding and neck-snapping and soul-searching and wanton destruction make a ton more sense if you inserted genuine mental issues into the equation. I'm not saying we should necessarily give the guy a movie franchise; audiences tend to gravitate away from movies where the protagonist stubbornly watches TV for 90 percent of the villain's rampage due to his crippling agoraphobia, then gets off his ass and God modes through an entire army in 30 seconds. Still, it would be refreshing to see one movie where the hero knows and admits that his greatest enemy is himself. (And no, the Hulk movies don't count.)