Rubado column: How superhero movies have evolved into mainstream pop culture with little competition

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

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Jared Rubado

The evolution of superhero movies over the last 20 years is quite remarkable.

Growing up in the mid-2000s, hero films were fun for kids, but looking back, I'm only fond of them for nostalgia. Sure, there were gems like the Dark Knight and Spider-Man trilogies, but until the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) came around, hero movies weren't even close to what they are today.

To be clear, it's impossible for those movies to hold a candle to what fans are getting now. That's because we're not just getting movies. In the streaming service era, studios are finding ways to push more shows and movies out the door and onto the eyes of viewers who are willing to pay.

Two years ago, "Avengers: Endgame" broke the box office record for the highest-grossing movie at nearly $2.8 billion, and if it weren't for James Cameron's re-release of "Avatar," a few months back overseas, it would still be No. 1. The point is, whether you like them or not, these franchises make a boatload of money and have a passionate following.

What did Kevin Fiege and Marvel do to top its $2.8 billion movie? They decided to try and dominate streaming services. The MCU has released two weekly shows in 2021 and has more planned in the coming months.


What Disney has going for them is unprecedented. Disney has two of the highest-grossing entertainment markets funneling into their streaming service between the MCU and Star Wars franchises.

For those that complain about remakes and rehashing old ideas and characters in Hollywood, you're wasting your breath. Star Wars and the MCU will never die because they will never stop making money. However, a franchise like the MCU could be forced to change if it's not careful.

You can see what movies and TV shows are coming out and every detail about them years in advance in the social-media age. It's not hard to tell what will be good and what won't be worth the time. But every once and a while you get content that suppresses expectations.

Amazon Prime Video did something that nobody expected over the last two years, and that's making the best superhero content. Amazon's two original television shows, "The Boys" and "Invincible," have capitalized on Disney's inability to create content that's appealing solely for adults.

One of the stigmas attached to superhero movies is they're made for kids. While I think that's a tired narrative, they are designed to be fun for the whole family. The MCU has done an excellent job of playing to all age demographics, but it's never felt tailored to a specific audience. Amazon is making superhero shows for adults, and they're incredible.

I just finished the first two seasons of "The Boys," and I can't wait for the third season to come out. Fair warning, it's incredibly graphic. It's borderline uncomfortable at times, but if you have the stomach and you like sci-fi, give it a shot.

"The Boys" is about a group of heroes seen as celebrities, politicians and day-savers to the general public. But in all reality, they're a group of self-loathing people who will protect their image at all costs. "The Boys" dives into the fascination people have with heroes and the marketing behind it while revealing their true colors behind the scenes when the powerful dictate what happens to the powerless.

I have not seen "Invincible" yet, but from all accounts, it's right up there with "The Boys." Amazon producing great superhero shows is only going to push the MCU to be better. It's a great time for fans and nerds alike.


This is a weekly opinion column written by Jared Rubado.

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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