I have to admit, I’m a little bit baffled by the ire Ross displays toward superhero movies. If he were a purebred cultural elitist, I’d get it, but not from a guy who’s admitted to going through a Star Trek phase and who championed the last James Bond movie, which, in addition to being one of the most delicious pop pleasures of the past decade, is more or less a superhero film without the spandex. How he can maintain the posture of being both an advocate of smart genre and be disdainful toward superhero films as a class is beyond me.
He goes on to make all sorts of sensible points in defense of Iron Man specifically and the superhero film more generally. Let me clarify, then: My problem is not with the existence of superhero movies, but with their proliferation, which the success - both artistic and commercial - of Iron Man is likely to further dramatically. I love genre films as much as the next cultural populist, but it's possible to have too much of a given genre even when the movies in question are good. And having Iron Man and The Dark Knight and The Incredible Hulk (did we really need another one so soon?) as summer tentpoles, with quasi-superhero movies like Hancock and Hellboy 2 thrown in, feels to me like the equivalent of having three James Bond movies coming out at more or less the same time. Or, more aptly - since superhero films are more dissimilar from one another than than Bond movies are - it's like having a Narnia movie and a Lord of the Rings movie and, say, an Ursula K. Le Guin adaptation all being released in the same movie season, with countless more adaptations of lesser fantasy works in the pipeline for the next few years. Which is to say, it feels like too much of a good thing even if all the movies turn out to be good (which they won't), and I'd like to see some of the talent involved turn their attention to other genres for a while.