Are superhero movies becoming ‘anti-superhero’?

If you watched the trailer for the upcoming Warner Bros. film “Superman: Unbound,” you might have gotten a sense of what the film is about — a young young son (Jack Grazer) desperately trying to find his father, a lost superhero (Marlon Brando) — and, strangely, you might have thought Marlon Brando seemed a little different than the others.

Here’s how some critics described it: “Love it or hate it,” Time magazine’s Randall Morrison said, “‘Superman: Unbound’ made a big noise in the film world Friday night.” USA Today’s Claudia Puig said it was a “big effort” and a “popcorn flick that takes itself as seriously as it takes Superman.” The New York Post’s Lou Lumenick called it “A cutesy, tepid, generic tearjerker that pretends the emotional terrain has not been mined to ridiculous heights in recent years.”

The thing is, though, by CNN’s analysis, the film is “a sentimental romantic saga about a real life superhero” in a year where there were — notably — two films — “Black Panther” and “Deadpool 2” — that were different in that way.

The actor also played “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (originally titled “Jane Eyre”) in 2017 and “Hell or High Water” in 2016, which didn’t open to as great a reception as “Superman: Unbound.”

As for the film itself, talk around the web suggests it’s another in the small, “anti-superhero” cinema genre that has seen limited success over the last decade. Andrew O’Hehir of Salon also noted a distinct negative tone from critics, stating that the film looked like “yet another extension of the montage of special effects and dull dialogue … comes one day before a new wave of films that promise a new take on superhero movies makes its way into theaters.”

Though the film is about Superman (it isn’t quite a sequel), it really focuses on the search for him — and the emotions of his child, Alex, who goes on an adventure to find his father. Admittedly, this seems like the least original angle in the superhero movie genre, but it’s something new to expect in these movies.

Still, the film was well received overall. Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score is 72 percent while its Tomatometer score of 59 percent and three Oscar nominations might lead you to believe it’s a big, flashy superhero movie.

I’m not sure how the reviews of “Superman: Unbound” compare to ones for other recent action epics like “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which arrived on the heels of the disappointing summer releases “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League.”

Still, there seems to be a growing backlash to superhero films from some corners of the press and entertainment industry. There’s the ongoing backlash against action films taking themselves too seriously, which has led to the rise of “comic book movies as alternative art forms.”

And there’s perhaps another way of looking at how critics responded to these films. Let’s face it, there aren’t necessarily any super things to say about either “Black Panther” or “Deadpool 2.” To make matters worse, those films both debuted in February — a very slow time in the film industry. Maybe there’s a budding trend here?

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