Spielberg: “There Will Be a Time When the Superhero Movie Goes the Way of the Western”

Two years ago, Steven Spielberg—ironically, one of the filmmakers who kicked off the age of the big-budget blockbuster all those years ago—predicted the “implosion” of the high-risk, potentially high-reward model in vogue at the movies these days. Apparently, he still stands by that assessment.

In an interview with the Associated Press to promote Bridge of Spies, the Tom Hanks-starring, Coen Brothers-co-written Cold War movie hitting theaters this October, once again claimed that this, too, shall pass:

We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.

Interestingly, Spielberg only speaks to superhero movies this time, not to the vogue for massive franchises in general—probably because he’s directly attached to the biggest franchise of the summer. In the very next question, he addresses the success of Jurassic World, without connecting it to either superhero movies or his previous comments about blockbusters as a whole:

I’m back in the dinosaur business, it appears. We promised them more teeth and they rewarded us for it. I would have been ecstatic if we had done what the town was expecting, which was a $100 million three-day weekend. That would have just made my whole year. But the fact that it did over twice what the prognosticators were predicting, it just blew me away.

Spielberg’s probably right about the inevitable end of superhero movies; everything comes to a close eventually. But once again, it seems odd for a filmmaker to decry the business model he helped kickstart, and continues to profit from.