To say that the film industry is currently oversaturated with superhero movies would be an understatement. There have already been four superhero films released this year alone, with another three scheduled to be released in the next few months.

In fact, between Marvel and DC, there are 25 more superhero flicks scheduled to be released from now until 2020. What’s even crazier is the fact that six of these films are untitled meaning that there isn't even a concrete premise or plot set up for them yet. Not to mention that I didn’t even include the plethora of animated superhero movies and TV shows coming out as well.

There’s no doubt that the superhero genre is dominating the blockbuster status quo right now with audiences lining up to see films about superheroes most of them probably have never even heard of beforehand. But at what point will audiences finally say enough?

The Superhero Genre

Superheroes the way we see them today have existed for nearly a century, mostly in comic book form though. Studios have released successful superhero films in the past, but the genre never really gained momentum until 2008. That year, ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Iron Man’ were released which completely changed the blockbuster landscape for the foreseeable future.

The Dark Knight” set an incredible precedent showing that superhero films could actually have real depth in which the film was nominated for eight different categories at the 81st Academy Awards. ‘Iron Man’ on the other hand was the first successful film from Marvel Studios which essentially jump started the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

While the vast majority of superhero films have been universally praised by critics, even the ones that get negative reviews still managed to pull in insane profits. For example, ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ received a rating of 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and a rating of 44% on Metacritic, but still managed to gross roughly $900 million at the box office.

Similarly, ‘Suicide Squad’ received 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 40% rating on Metacritic while still grossing about $750 million.

Whether a superhero film gets positive reviews or not seems to have little impact on this current trend. This year alone, ‘Logan’,Wonder Woman’,The Lego Batman Movie’, and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ have already grossed nearly $2.5 trillion combined. With the superhero genre proving to be an unstoppable money-making juggernaut, Hollywood has no intention of taking their foot off the gas pedal anytime soon.

When will this Bubble Burst?

Critics and filmgoers alike have been pondering for the last several years on when exactly audiences will stop raining money on these films.

Seeing as bad reviews play virtually no role in how successful these films are, what could possibly destroy all of this momentum? Well the answer is simple, just take a look at the fate of the last immensely successful genre: the western.

There has arguably been no film genre in the history of American cinema more successful or long lasting as western films. From the early 1930’s stretching all the way to the early 1970’s, western films dominated the box office and filled up theatres across the country on a regular basis. In the 1930’s alone, over 200 western films were released during that decade with the trend exponentially increasing from 1940-1960.

So if the western genre was so popular, what happened?

Well the western genre slowly began to die off during the 1960’s thanks in large part to the space race with the Soviet Union. With the average American’s attention shifting from the dusty horizon of the desert to the stars and beyond, public viewing habits changed along with. The sci-fi genre began to take off during this period which resulted in the western genre no longer turning in the same profits it once did.

With all the excitement about humanity colonizing Mars in the near future and NASA’s plan to explore the habitability of Jupiter’s moon Europa within the next decade, we could very well see the same thing happen to the superhero genre. However, thanks to the internet, popularity for a particular trend of topic could literally disappear overnight. The moment another new and exciting genre comes along, or even the rebirth of a pre-existing genre, the death of the superhero will begin.