Death of the Super Hero Genre

The Super Hero Genre is Dead… Long Live Super Heroes!

In the brief Q+A back section of the Writer’s Guide, I blab a bit. One of the things I blab about is the super hero genre.

The super hero genre has definitely reached a saturation point culturally.

There’s always a market share (aka money to be made) for quality, regardless of the current trends and market conditions. But the reality is, the majority of new super hero properties will have a hard time getting traction. (I’m not talking about anything Bendis, DeConnick, or Hickman put out, big names and a billion dollars will always give a property traction.)

Most of the time when I’m story consulting or DE’ing on an indy super hero IP they almost always suffer from the same ailment–they focus on the super powers, gadgets and costume and not on the character itself.  Probably because beyond these low hanging fruit elements, their creative well is dry in the genre.

Amazingly indie writers keep cranking out these superficial characters.

Again, I’m not saying it can’t be done… I’m just saying it’s absolutely ice skating uphill… in a very large crowd, wearing a hundred pound backpack… on the day Deadpool 2 is opening.

Interestingly enough, I just did a review on an indie script. And I actually, recommended to the writer/creator that he get his cast of main characters into some spandex. He needed to “super hero them up”… yeah, I actually told him that.

You see this creator’s script called for a group of everyday people fighting crime (to simplify things) but the story had each character pegged with a codename. You know like Anvil, Lady X, the Professor… this type of thing. So these guys and gals dressed in regular clothes were going around dishing it out to the baddies.

It was all a bit too… mundane… (There’s that nemesis word of mine).

Because the script pegged the characters with these super hero like personas, the story just felt lacking without something visual to go along with it. They were sort of stuck in a quasi-super hero limbo…

In fact, I recommended the writer had an opportunity to do something very stylish, very avant-garde with the story, pushing the characters into a nigh-absurd realm of “super-heroism”… I don’t think he liked the idea… but I still do.

Sometimes the story is just the story and to hell with everything else.

It’s kind of like the movie Red Dawn.

You know with the school kids fighting the Russians. This was a non-superhero, realistic story. But the wolverine members, didn’t have codenames, they didn’t have specific abilities reflective of their names.
If they called each other Super Shot, and  Stealth Kill, and Balck Widow (no, not Scarlett Johansson…) then you would have expected something more to them. Both visually and from their actions. “Regular” people don’t have those kind of names.

Now of course, my recommendation to give the story a more super hero edge, didn’t go without really focusing on the character development and story. I would never advocate spectacle and pure eye candy just for the sake of itself.

As I said at the beginning, in this day and age, that stuff has the hardest time getting traction.▪

About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S.  Visit for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.

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3 thoughts on “Death of the Super Hero Genre

  1. Your experience with those writers doesn’t prove super heroes have a hard time gaining traction as a genre. It seems to be that, as expected, there is no guard halting membership in the indy scene, so writers of any skill level will join…an influx of writer that didn’t know they were prepared to write seems sure to have planted roots in the indy scene. You had the experience of writers that had only started to try to filter reality into art; the same writers, as expected, to filter down the easily accessible (and already filtered reality) of their beloved super hero genre.

    1. It can be done… it’s just a more challenging field to enter.
      Keep your head down, aim true and good luck soldier!

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