Good evening! Earlier during the year, I asked my fellow steampunk fans if they wanted me to include any specific blog topics for 2018. One of my colleagues had a series of interesting questions. Why can't steampunk break into the mainstream like cyberpunk did? Or has it? Does steampunk even want to be mainstream anymore? I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to these questions, but there might be some general trends and observations. Here are my thoughts about these questions.
Regarding cyberpunk, I would say it has mixed reception in mainstream entertainment. We're definitely seeing a lot of cyberpunk mangas, films, novels, and television series. For example, Battle Angel: Alita is a popular manga that's being adapted into a motion picture. Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk television show on Netflix and hardcore fans of the genre still enjoy reading the works of Philip K. Dick. There's a lot of cyberpunk representation in mainstream pop culture, but that doesn't mean audiences are being particularly receptive. I certainly don't see a lot of cyberpunk books in major bookstores like Barnes & Noble. Quite a few cyberpunk works flopped, including the Ghost in the Shell film. Mainstream audiences usually find cyberpunk melancholy, weird, and depressing. Cyberpunk has a niche following, much like steampunk. However, general audiences are still struggling to embrace the technological dystopia. How can cyberpunk have more success in the mainstream market? I suppose it needs to be a little more hopeful with a bigger emphasis on popular character tropes, action or adventure, and blockbuster style visual effects. Basically, the genre needs to sell out or it will never become popular in mainstream pop culture. That might not be fair or authentic, but I don't believe current trends will help cyberpunk in the long run.
Does this mean steampunk is less popular than cyberpunk in mainstream entertainment? It's almost a different situation. Most people know very little information if anything regarding steampunk. The genre is developing more of a following or basic recognition, but it's not popular in the same caliber as superheroes, Medieval fantasy, space operas, post-apocalypse, etc. Actually, I think mainstream audiences will naturally appreciate certain steampunk elements, including Victorian fantasy, supernatural creatures, rebellious themes, and more. In terms of films and television shows, they'll enjoy the elaborate costumes, production designs, prop weapons, and visual effects. I just believe people are afraid to try new things. Steampunk is different than other popular genres and audiences stick with familiarity. That's why Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars will be popular until the end of time. I've also met several individuals who find steampunk confusing. Steampunk has a lot of stylistic elements, but mainstream audiences don't recognize it by sight. In a nutshell, steampunk is usually a Victorian setting with a lot of sci-fi or fantasy elements. At the very least, it's going to have a lot of steam power. It's usually a more futuristic version of the Victorian era or American Wild West. I believe mainstream audiences will become more open minded to steampunk when they become tired of our current entertainment. They might even appreciate it now if film makers and popular authors will give it a shot. Some people might already have a favorite steampunk book series without knowing it. The Parasol Protectorate, Leviathan, Boneshaker, the Golden Compass, and the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences are a few examples. I'm curious to see what happens when The Mortal Engines hits the big screen in December of this year. Supposedly, it's going to be available in 3D and IMAX formats. Steampunk might become more popular if the film is successful. I wouldn't say steampunk is totally mainstream yet, but it's taking some decent steps forward.
Does steampunk want to be mainstream at all? Some steampunk fans definitely want it to remain a niche genre. They don't want steampunk to sell out and become a vessel for capitalism. For some fans, it's a matter of authenticity. Other steampunk fans would love to see the genre hit the mainstream. That means we'll get to see more steampunk books, movies, and video games. Hurray! It will be easier to find resources for costumes and steampunk festivals as well. Personally, I don't believe that part would be a bad thing. I just want steampunk to retain its stylistic elements. Otherwise, mainstream audiences will become even more confused. Don't randomly throw around gears, corsets, or goggles and call it steampunk.
I do believe it's harder for steampunk to maintain longevity in mainstream pop culture. Unless you're interested in Victorian fantasy, steampunk probably won't seem interesting. Steampunk films are also very expensive to make because they require a lot elaborate visual elements. Most likely, steampunk will remain a niche genre with occasional peaks in mainstream entertainment. The outcome will become more clear several years down the road.
That's all for now. Leave a comment if you want to participate in the discussion. I'm sure many steampunk fans will have their own theories. Happy Mother's Day and watch out for next week's post.
Welcome back! I've seen many comic book films throughout my lifetime and it seems like we finally reached a peak for the superhero genre. Marvel is on a roll with their films and DC is still hanging around. I'm not particularly thrilled with the DCEU except for Wonder Woman, but the franchise has many hardcore fans. Marvel is releasing approximately three films per year. For example, Marvel will release another Spider-Man film, Captain Marvel, and the conclusion of the Infinity War saga in 2019. Can the film industry maintain this pace or will the superhero genre eventually decline? I have some theories.
Most importantly, I don't think we're going to see fewer comic book movies until audiences become disinterested in the genre. Ultimately, everything revolves around money. At the moment, comic book adaptations are some of the most profitable films in the industry. Avengers: Infinity War is breaking box office records and Black Panther exceeded all expectations. The superhero genre has a very devout fan base. Many people grew up reading comic books and watching animated superhero shows. It's a nostalgic genre that can relate to issues in the modern era. Also, contemporary comic book films are catering to adults much better than earlier adaptations. Many superhero movies are darker and more serious with adult driven themes. It broadens the appeal to general audiences.
So, I don't think superhero films are going to decline in the near future. However, it will probably happen some day. It's unrealistic for Marvel and DC to maintain their current pace forever. DC is already struggling in my opinion. The Justice League movie should have been DC's crowning achievement, but it didn't even break $700,000 in theaters. That's not enough money for such a monumental film. I'm noticing a label called superhero fatigue through the worldwide web. Basically, some people are getting tired of comic book movies. We see multiple releases every year and some casual moviegoers want to see something else. Is this the beginning of the end for comic book films? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
There's still plenty of hope for comic book fans. Many kids are still growing up with their favorite superheroes and that means they could still appreciate the genre in adulthood. It means future generations can keep the box office in good shape. Certain franchises are still making huge amounts of money and comic book fans are incredibly vocal online. There are many Comic Cons internationally with huge attendance. What about the potential merger between Disney and Fox? For those of you who don't know, Disney owns the rights to most Marvel properties, particularly in cinema. However, Fox owns the rights for the X-Men and Fantastic Four. If the merger goes through, the MCU can add the X-Men and Fantastic Four to their repertoire. It would give a lot more material to the MCU. I believe the merger will eventually go through. It would have collapsed already if the deal was shaky. Some moviegoers and comic book fans are going to be upset about the merger, but I think it's the best thing for the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Most of the MCU films are great and these two franchises will be excellent additions. Disney is also planning to release a streaming service in the near future. The merger could give them comic book content for streaming shows. Right now, the future is bright for the superhero genre.
Should we feel pessimistic about anything? Here are my biggest concerns. Eventually, show runners and film makers are going to run out of ideas. We're already seeing really obscure adaptations like the Runaways on Hulu, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, etc. I'm pretty sure the New Mutants are going to have a film adaptation next year. Think about television shows that run for too many years. The same problem could happen to superhero films. I'm also really worried about the DCEU. It contains some of the most popular superheroes, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and others. But most of their films aren't made very well. They're not making maximum profit and many people believe Warner Bros. should reboot the franchise. I'm not sure if a total reboot is necessary, but the DCEU needs a lot of improvements. Furthermore, comic book films might develop a big decline in quality over time. The superhero genre changed dramatically when the first X-Men film was released. At that point, the quality of superhero movies improved significantly. Now we're a spoiled audience who wants every superhero film to be great. The quality might decline if the wrong individuals create these movies. I hope it doesn't happen, but time will give us the answers.
Are you starting to feel superhero fatigue? Do you believe a big decline in comic books films is inevitable? Let me know in the comment section. Keep your eyes open for more posts and have a good week.
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