Ambition is a good thing to have when producing a movie. In fact, it is a great thing when the team behind a film are taking risks. Studios have taken this philosophy to the extremes lately with the intensity of content overload in movies.

Studios are packing as much content as possible into their films, but they do not seem to know when it becomes too much. This has resulted in a lot of big-budget flops over the years and internet frenzies. This content overload has become an increasingly frequent problem in the world of superhero movies.

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This problem has no definite origin, and it is nothing new in Hollywood. Though this is nothing new, it has been happening more over the past ten years. Most of the biggest offenders of this are superhero films; but, it has not been as bad as it has been in recent years.

To discover how overload has grown into the movie-ruining beast that it is today we should start at the earliest casualty of recent memory: SPIDER-MAN 3.

SPIDER-MAN 3

Content overload is nothing new when it comes to the superhero genre. One of the greatest superhero flops of the last ten years is 2007’s SPIDER-MAN 3. The infamous film failed due to its crowded feel and how it botched classic characters and storylines from the comics. After SPIDER-MAN 2 had raised the bar by introducing Doctor Octopus, the production team knew that they had to top it when making the sequel.

This resulted in the film having three villains and a hodgepodge of a plot. The studio shoe-horned in the Venom storyline to include the Sandman and Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin into the film’s 2.5-hour run-time. As a result, we got a Venom that looked like this:

Content Overload

and a story arc involving this:

Content Overload

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

Studios did not learn from their mistakes, though, as seen in the cases of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. All of these films are overflowing with plotlines.

When films are this overloaded, their good ideas become overshadowed their sheer amount of under-developed ideas. The reason for all of the overload in the three films is due to studios trying to set up future films. Studios seem to pay more attention to a film’s sequel than the film itself.

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Though SPIDER-MAN 3 failed due to overload, it seems that Sony never learned their lesson. We see this in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, as it also decided to include three villains with Electro, The Green Goblin, and Rhino:

Content Overload

This film spent too much time setting up multiple future sequels, and it shows. This is also the main issue plaguing the other two films listed earlier. All three of these films flopped because studios spent too much time trying to set up future films. Studios seem to pay more attention to a film’s sequel than the film itself.

The MCU

Ever since Marvel started planning and announcing their films five years in advance, everybody else is attempting to follow suit. Let’s take a look at the original timeline for Phase 3:

Content Overload

Many of these films have been canceled or have been sent into development hell. Planning this far ahead is impractical, yet everybody is doing it. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is made up of more setups for sequels than it is its own plot. This led to the films wasting its opportunity to let James Spader shine as the villain that he could have been. It is because of this that viewers complain that Loki is the only good villain in the MCU.

The entire movie is made up of unnecessary sub-plots and set-ups for future films. It is because of this (and petty fighting with Fox) that we get an underdeveloped Quicksilver. When a character is only in (roughly) three scenes and only speaks a handful of lines, the audience doesn’t grow attached to them. This is why the “emotional twist” death of Quicksilver is pointless, as the viewer just shrugs it off to punch more robots in the face.

The DCEU

This is also the reason that BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE failed as much as it did. It is known that Warner Bros., shoe-horned Batman and the rest of the DC universe into what was originally a script for MAN OF STEEL 2. In an effort to kickstart a connected universe franchise, Warner Bros. quickly and sloppily filled their movie with everything from time-traveling Flash to Darkseid (or at least Apokolips and parademons).

Content Overload

As they rushed with the ambition to match-up with Marvel’s success, DC found a way to mess up a film called BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. Ignoring everything else, how do you mess up what is practically printing money? Our old friend: content overload.

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And we must not forget SUICIDE SQUAD, a film that is bursting at the seams with content. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t been mentioned when it comes to this movie, but we can’t leave it out when talking about overload. The film had a ton of content in addition to what we saw in the final cut.

This film is a messy mountain of content, which not only overloads itself but, but it overloads the viewer. Also, it gives us another damn sky-beam climax! This film was just a mess, it was fun, but it was a complete mess.

Present Dangers and Potential Victims of Content Overload

Studios have to realize that it is better to tell a single story well than to have so many stories that none are given enough time to develop. It is best to tease another storyline in the after-credits scene and give it proper attention in the sequel.

I am no advertiser, but isn’t it best to leave the audience wanting more? If a film is good, then people more people will see it. There is no need for excessive advertisement if a studio makes a great movie, let the fans do the work and stop worrying about the film’s opening weekend.

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Hopefully, THOR: RAGNAROK will be done with the same attention and quality of Marvel’s recent films and the story as a whole will be properly executed. The recent trailer for the film shows a potential of overloading too, seeing as they are mashing together the Planet Hulk storyline and a Thor storyline.

All of the future big-budget superhero flicks should learn from the mistakes of others and stop with the content overload. Hopefully, studios learn that quality is better than quantity because they are just wasting their potential for great films.

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