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The Batman's Paul Dano welcomes 'superhero fatigue' for the second wind or surprise that's next

Call it a 'readjustment' instead of a slow death.

The Batman - Paul Dano
Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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After 2023's largely disappointing box office returns when it came to superhero movies, the 'fatigue' chatter has understandably ramped up. 2024's lower number of comic book-related big-screen releases might seem to back up all this talk too, but it's just a planned downsize before trying to hit it big next year and beyond. Now, even actors who recently starred in movies like The Batman are starting to doubt the sustainability of the current model.

Paul Dano, who played infamous Batman villain The Riddler in Matt Reeves' 2022 hit DC Comics adaptation, recently shared his thoughts on this whole discussion and the state of superhero flicks as a whole with The Independent while promoting Netflix's Spaceman: "It’s an interesting moment where everybody has to go like, ‘OK – what now?’ Hopefully from that, somebody either breathes new life into [comic book movies], or something else blossoms which is not superheroes... I’m sure there will still be some good ones yet to come, but I think it’s kind of a welcome moment."

It's a reasonable and well-calculated take on the matter, as we're still getting plenty of killer comic book movies like The Batman, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, all movies which have done well financially and garnered both critical and public acclaim. It's obvious that, at some point, quantity became more important than quality, same thing with making brands more salient than each project's specific pitch.

Dano also added this entire conversation about comic book movies which are churned out at a relentless pace and without letting visions 'marinate' before going into production is part of a larger, industry-wide problem: "As soon as the word ‘content’ came into what we do – meaning making movies or TV – it meant quantity over quality, which I think was a big misstep. And I certainly don’t need that as a viewer or as an artist." No notes.

Westerns (or disaster flicks) didn't go anywhere when the genre rode past its prime; they just became fewer and not as central to the film business. Many have pointed out the same might happen with superhero movies, with the number of projects in development going down and quality still being a thing as long as enough care is put into them. Dano appears to think the same, praising The Batman's approach to the material and Reeves' writing: "Reading the script for ‘The Batman,’ you knew it was a real film. Every sentence… that’s just Matt Reeves."

The Batman Part II, which remains separated from the larger DC continuity (soon to be rebooted), is currently set to release on October 3, 2025, though the script reportedly isn't ready yet. Before, however, Reeves and his collaborators are bridging the gap between the two movies with the Penguin series coming to Max later this year.

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Fran Ruiz