With interest in superhero movies seemingly low based on response to recent offerings that didn’t have the words 'Guardians of the Galaxy' in the title, writer Scott Snyder — who’s no stranger to superheroes thanks to more than a decade working with DC on titles including Batman and Justice League — has offered some thoughts on what could come next… and, perhaps unwittingly, who is better placed to do so.
In a recent edition of his Substack newsletter, Snyder talked about what he described as a lull for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and superhero movies in general, in the wake of the critical response to projects like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Secret Invasion, as well as The Flash and Black Adam.
“I’m just saying that it feels like a moment when people are reassessing,” he suggests. “There have been some things that haven't done done as well. Similarly, there have been some critical rejections of things at DC, The Flash underperformed, so there's a lot of investigating and thinking about superheroes and are we tired of them. And it's fascinating, because for me, these are the moments where we've done big things in comics.”
The examples he provided were Marvel’s 'Heroes Reborn' and 'Marvel Knights' from the '90s, as well as the Ultimate imprint — which, itself, is being rebooted by the publisher right now. (Snyder also suggested that stories like 'Zero Year' and Last Knight on Earth from his Batman run at DC, as well as the Dark Nights: Metal and Death Metal series, are born from a similar impulse.)
“I feel like it's this very fertile moment, honestly, for a kind of revitalization,” he continues “All I'm saying is that there's so many things right now that are pointing to this lull and saying that maybe it's over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in different ways. And I don't think that at all, I think they're going to come roaring back and do things we don't expect. I have full faith in James Gunn and I think DC is going to build something that's going to be incredible, too. But it's that period, it’s the lull before this ascent again. And that moment is a time to rethink.”
This is great news for DC, in that James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Studios — which officially launches with Creature Commandos and Superman: Legacy, and reboots the cinematic universe after Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — is already set up for this kind of rethink and recreation of familiar characters and concepts. It’s slightly less exciting for Marvel Studios, which is structurally unable to do anything similar, due to its insistence in everything existing in the same shared universe… at least until 2027’s Avengers: Secret Wars offers the opportunity to reboot everything from the ground up again thanks to some multiversal shenanigans.
Does this mean that Marvel is going to flounder for the next few years? Not necessarily; after all, as we said above, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is easily the biggest superhero movie this year. It does, however, mean that the MCU might have to try harder in order to keep fans happy in the short term.
Snyder doesn’t just work on superheroes; here’s a guide to his creator-owned work for you to enjoy.