Are Superhero Movies Too Safe

Steve Rogers: He's my friend.
Tony Stark: So was I.

Our heroes can't seem to get along. In March, Batman and Superman squared off. Friday, as the summer movie season kicked off, the Avengers were split in "Captain America: Civil War." There's been a lot of comparing these two films, but few have looked at one aspect in particular — do they take risks.

(Spoilers Below)

"Captain America: Civil War" is the better film. The acting and production was better. The writing and characters were better. And the story was better. In fact, I was thinking "Civil War" might be the best Marvel film — until we got to the third act. After so much emotion and build up, nothing happened.

Prior to the release of the film there was a great deal of speculation about who would die, and would it be someone significant. Most believed the answer to that was yes, one of the main protagonists would pay the ultimate price. The only ones that don't seem to agree are those running Marvel Studios.

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" was, at times, a rough and unsatisfying film. But it took a risk. There were consequences for the heroes involved in the battle. They followed a classic comic storyline through. It doesn't mean it's permanent, but it had some emotional heft. It opened up the possibility that the stakes are real.

A major complaint levied against the superhero shows on TV has been that they're too safe. No one really dies, and there is no fear that the stakes will be as high as on other shows, like "The Walking Dead" and "Game of Thrones," where everyone is in peril.

The same is true of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After seeing how "Civil War" ended, it's fair to wonder why we should worry about these heroes at all. Is there really any danger or any stakes? If there's not, as these movies, at best, an action comedy?

The rumor is the stakes will (finally) be real with "Avengers: Infinity War." Perhaps that's true. For now, "Civil War" could have staked itself as the best Marvel film, but instead pulled its punches at the end. And that's a shame.


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