Wayne’s Worlds: Wolverine and Superhero Fatigue

A couple of years back when the Green Lantern motion picture was released, some critics complained that there were “too many superhero movies,” and that by the time GL hit the theaters, moviegoers were suffering from “superhero fatigue.” “We just can’t take this many superhero movies in one summer,” said one commentator.

Now, we can still debate the quality of the film, which is fine. But I’m intrigued that we’re not hearing about “superhero fatigue” nearly as much since then.

I’m referring to The Wolverine, which debuted to $55 million, below what industry “experts” estimated it would make. It took in $30 million less than the previous Wolverine film. (Now, to be fair, the movie did much better overseas.)

I’m intrigued that The Wolverine didn’t get nearly the number of catcalls that Green Lantern did, that by then, moviegoers didn’t want any more superhero films that summer.

If I were a conspiracy guy, I’d think that Disney, who now owns Marvel, did their best to torpedo GL, but won’t do the same for a film containing one of Marvel’s best-known characters. But I’m not, so I don’t worry about such things.


As a long-time comics reader, I’m also fascinated by how Wolverine has changed over the years.

Of course, he wore a very different costume when he first appeared, battling the Hulk.

Then, when John Byrne took over Uncanny X-Men, I noticed that Wolverine was short, furry all over, chomping cigars, ending every sentence with “Bub,” and against taking baths, which other mutants commented on.

Now, if you have seen the recent Wolverine anime, he’s tall, lanky, smooth-skinned, with no cigars or “Bubs” to be found. Not only that, he looks like a young adult wearing fashionable outfits. What happened?

Now we have Logan, the “old man” Wolverine. He seems to be more popular than several of the previous versions, although he’s being replaced by a younger male and female. Guess it takes two to replace the guy with the Adamantium skeleton.

My favorite hero is Batman. He’s had a great many incarnations, on TV to animated shows to comics. I like many of them, but not all. (I despised The Batman on Kids WB. After watching Batman: The Animated Series, it was like seeing my best friend after his lobotomy. Painful!)

I figure the same thing has happened to Wolverine. Depending on the creator working on him, Logan has “mutated” into different variations of the same guy.


Has Wolverine’s popularity faded? Well, Batman has also had his up’s and down’s. Just before the release of Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, DC actually was ready to cancel Detective Comics, but they thought better of it. I remember reading with horror about Nocturna, a vampire Batman had taken a liking to. The last we saw of that version of her was in a hot-air balloon vanishing into a red sky. (May she stay there forever!) We have briefly seen an updated version, but that was short-lived, thankfully!

It seems that the X-Men and Wolverine aren’t quite the popular people they used to be. But I don’t expect that to last long. Batman’s on an up-tick right now, so I figure Wolverine will be back, as popular as ever soon. He appeared on Ultimate Spider-Man on Disney XD a couple of times and was the leader of the X-Men in a recent cartoon, so I know Disney is keeping an eye on him, waiting for the right time to re-establish him with the public.


The reviews for The Wolverine were mixed, and that might also have contributed to the drop in income for the movie. I understand that the economy isn’t so great, so people are using reviewers now more than they have to decide whether they’ll go see a film or not. Personally, I’d rather go myself if I have any interest at all.

Still, the film landed in the top spot, and the company making the movie (and the other X-films) is planning to continue the franchise, so you can look forward to more Hugh Jackman with the claws coming your way soon!

Then along came Logan, and the older Wolverine seems to be doing better than many of the recent takes on the character. Word is that there might only be one more Wolverine movie in the coming years, but we’ll see. I expect Logan to “regenerate” back into a younger version any month now.

The interesting thing to me is that Marvel seems to be trying to replace the mutants with the Inhumans. They’re making them as similar to the mutants as possible, seems like. I’m going to be curious to see how their TV show on ABC does this Fall. If it’s too close to the mutants, people will just shrug them off as a rip-off. If they’re too different, they could come up with something that won’t be as interesting to the people who love mutants. Tough choices.

The current X-Men Gold and X-Men Blue comics are selling well, although not at previous X-levels. Only time will tell if Wolverine will be the big badass he has been. A version of Wolverine is still in both titles, so he still has some fans around! Guess “superhero fatigue” isn’t as prevalent as people thought it was after all!

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