Oppenheimer Needs To Signal The End Of Superheroes Driving Blockbusters

By Brian Myers | Updated

With an astounding 13 Academy Award nominations going into the 96th annual star-studded ceremony Sunday evening, the 2023 film Oppenheimer racked up an impressive nine wins before the end of the night. With the number of wins, critical accolades, and audience response to the film, this Christoper Nolan gem should signal to production studios that the age of Marvel and DC cinematic universes hogging valuable screen time is coming to a screeching halt. The adults of this world would like options at the theater that involve more mature plotlines and fewer superheroes running around to save the planet.

A Sign That Moviegoers Want Variety

It’s no wonder studios keep churning out superhero films at a pace that would make the late Edward D. Wood, Jr. blush. The box office successes of these movies are hard to argue against, with Marvel’s contributions alone garnering nearly $30 billion across 33 films. But the enormous financial earnings of last year’s films Oppenheimer and Barbie signal that plenty of adults still venture to theaters and want more than an action film with costumed superheroes armed with uncanny gifts and witty asides.

Blowing Away The Capes And Tights Crowd

Oppenheimer served as one of the top-grossing films for 2023, raking in more than $960 million in ticket sales worldwide, more than 10 percent of the top superhero film of the year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with $845 million. All told, three comic book-based films cracked the top 10 for worldwide box office receipts but were all blown away by the children’s films (The Little Mermaid, Super Mario Bros. Movie), the aforementioned biopic Oppenheimer, and Fast X.

Hollywood Is Scared Of Taking A Risk

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Not that the success of a film like Oppenheimer negates the need or the success of a superhero film at the box office. Clearly, these movies are popular worldwide and have shown to be moneymakers for the studios that have chosen to focus on them. But to some, it seems a bit like the companies that push for these films are going back to the same well far too often, while they could be focusing the same efforts on films that gross as much (if not more) and on budgets that run far less.

Adults Like Other Movies Too

At the very least, if studios were to pay more attention to what makes many adult moviegoers drive to the Cineplex on the weekend, there would be more to choose from when they have a night out without their children. Oppenheimer and movies with well-intentioned superheroes can coexist in the same complex, but having a little less of the latter might well be the trend in the near future.

A Big Night At The Oscars

Oppenheimer stars Best Actor winner Cillian Murphy in the title role, Best Supporting Actor Winner Robert Downey, Jr., and Best Actress nominee Emily Blunt. The film won Best Picture and Best Director for Christopher Nolan, whose entries among superhero films shouldn’t be ignored. Nolan emerged as an A-list director with the 2005 film Batman Begins before assuming the helm at its 2008 follow-up, The Dark Knight.