Considering 2016 will see six different superhero movies alone, it’s safe to say that the genre is more popular than ever. Suicide Squad just released this past weekend to scathing reviews, but it also shattered box office records, so even subpar offerings are finding an audience.
Of course, it’s difficult not to compare today’s superhero movies—those made by DC in particular—to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, still widely considered the gold standard of comic book filmmaking. Irish actor Cillian Murphy had a sizable role in that trilogy’s success, playing the classic Batman villain Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a. Scarecrow. These days, Murphy is busy starring in the acclaimed crime drama Peaky Blinders and while promoting his upcoming film Anthropoid recently, Murphy was asked by Vulture about his thoughts on the comic book movie genre now and why it’s filled with so many obscure characters. Here’s what he had to say:
“Have they exhausted every single comic book ever?… I don’t know where they’re coming from anymore… It was a different time back when we made Batman Begins. I think that Chris [Nolan] has to take credit for making that trilogy of films. I think they’re so grounded in a relatable reality… Nobody in those films ever had a superpower. Do you know what I mean? It’s a slightly heightened level of storytelling, where New York is Gotham, and no one did anything magical. Batman in his movies just did a lot of pushups and was, like, British. So that’s what I loved about them. My kids love the Marvel movies, but I don’t know. I don’t watch them.”
Although Murphy’s comments may ring as a bit too dismissive for some, he does raise an interesting point about how Nolan’s Batman films are considerably different in tone and subject matter than the majority of superhero films being made today. Nolan’s films made a point of keeping things like superpowers to an absolute minimum, but the success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and even recent DC films like Batman v Superman show that tastes have changed somewhat and audiences have embraced comic book movies with more fantastical elements. Murphy may have lost interest in the genre, but as long as people keep turning out to see these movies, they won’t be going anywhere.