Avengers: Infinity War puts the super into superhero as 18 Marvel faves team-up

Avengers: Infinity War is putting the super into superhero with not just one costumed character saving the day but more than 20.

For fans, it is a landmark event as faves from across the 18 films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe team up for the first time.

Infinity War has been a decade in the making and ever since Disney-owned Marvel released its first film, Iron Man, in 2008 each of its films and TV shows has been building up to this story.

Finally, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Ant-Man will battle Thanos.

Ahead of Infinity War opening tomorrow, box office experts predict it will smash records set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Odeon will show it 4,000 times in the first four days after selling a ticket every 10 seconds when pre-bookings opened.

Yet some fans are wondering: has the golden age of superheroes hit its zenith?

In 2007, there were just three superhero films.

This year there will be at least nine and next year at least 10.

Marvel made £10billion at the box office in a decade, topping Star Wars and Bond to become the biggest-earning franchise of all time. Rival DC, which has Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, made £6.74billion.

And then there’s merchandising and the superhero TV boom.

Marvel has 11 shows, including Netflix’s Jessica Jones and C4’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with two more due this year and five in development. DC has 10, four upcoming and 11 in development.

So why our sudden obsession with superheroes? And will the bubble burst just as fast?

James Cameron, who made the two biggest films of all time, Avatar and Titanic, feels enough is enough. “I’m hoping we’ll start getting Avenger fatigue here pretty soon,” he said.

“There are other stories to tell besides hypergonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours.”

But Empire magazine’s Chris Hewitt feels the explosion of comic book films in the noughties, starting with X-Men and the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man series, is easily explained.

He says: “One reason is special effects. The Superman and Batman films of the 70s, 80s and 90s had terrible effects. But finally, they have caught up and we’re able to put these stories on the big screen.

“They also appeal across the generations. It’s the golden age of comic book movies. There are stinkers but there are also incredible films that are fun, entertaining and have something to say about the world.

“And there a subgenres within superheroes, some are comedies, some thrillers. Marvel’s given us 40 hours of interlinked movies, which culminate in this one.

"That has never been done. How long are they going to last? As long as the movies are good. We’ll probably be talking about Avengers 47 years from now.”

Will Brooker, professor of film and cultural studies at Kingston University and author of several Batman studies, says the surge in the noughties was a reaction to 9/11 and now these heroes are a way to deal with a world blighted by terrorism, Trump and strife with Russia and North Korea.

Prof Brooker says: “There’s something reassuring about seeing these larger than life figures who can solve the world’s problems and imagining how great it would be if they were able to.”

The idea goes back to comic book roots. Superman debuted in Action Comics in 1938, becoming a huge figure during the Second World War and was shown fighting a Nazi in 1941.

The same year, Timely, which became Marvel, had Captain America punching Hitler. Iron Man arrived in 1963 at the height of the Cold War, in the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Prof Brooker says: “Things go in and out of fashion. We get one or two Westerns a year now. Yet there was a time when westerns and war films used to dominate.

“One of the reasons comic book films appeal to all ages is the superhero movie is the new Western. They are about the same thing – what does it mean to be a hero? And will you join a team or be a loner?”

Well, with a cast of 30 A-list names, what superhero fan wouldn’t join Team Avengers?

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