It’s been slim pickings for those holding out for a hero in the COVID-era, but from Wonder Woman and Watchmen to Stargirl there’s something for everyone.
It’s been slim pickings for those holding out for a hero in the COVID-era, but from Wonder Woman and Watchmen to Stargirl there’s something for everyone.

How to get your superhero fix

In case you've been hiding under a rock, the world has gone to hell in a handbasket in 2020.

And in a time of global pestilence, natural disasters and civil unrest, our heroes seem to have abandoned us.

It's only 16 months since the mother-of-all-star superhero team-ups, The Avengers, saved the universe and conquered the world with Endgame (surpassing Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time, raking in a colossal $3.9 billion at the box office).

But in the coronavirus era, with audiences craving a ray of hope, social distancing and cinema shutdowns have been like kryptonite to this year's crop of superheroes.

COVID-19 has done what the most devious of villains couldn't, with Wonder Woman and Black Widow already forced to delay their dates with destiny, and production shutdowns causing the money-making juggernauts to radically rethink their futures.

Hope springs eternal, though - some cinemas in Australia are reopening and the heroes are already dusting off their capes.

Gal Gadot’s delayed Wonder Woman 1984 will now open in October.
Gal Gadot’s delayed Wonder Woman 1984 will now open in October.

There's also a whole world to be enjoyed from the comfort of the couch, from family-friendly Stargirl to frankly frightening The Boys, putting paid to the theory that so-called superhero fatigue has set in.

"I feel like the whole superhero genre allows for an escape from our world," says Brec Bassinger, who plays the title role in Stargirl, which has already been a hit in the US and drops on local steaming service Binge this month.

"And our show in particular, with the '80s nostalgia vibe, really hits home with that escapism. Stargirl has the humour and the heart and gives people a distraction, which is so needed right now. So, I don't see superhero fatigue happening."

In addition to the names and costumes you know and love from comic book giants Marvel and DC there are lesser-known gems, such as the masterful Watchmen, which showed earlier this year that superheroes weren't just for teenage boys.

It's a dark mix of social commentary and action earned it a whopping 26 Emmy nominations this year, the most of any show .

 

X-Men spin-off The New Mutants, starring Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy will finally arrive in cinemas next month.
X-Men spin-off The New Mutants, starring Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy will finally arrive in cinemas next month.

MODERN MARVELS

The New Mutants will be one of the first big budget releases since the pandemic hit, when it finally arrives in cinemas on September 3.

Not before time, too - the horror-tinged X-Men spin-off, featuring a new generation of young mutants (including Maisie "Arya Stark" Williams and Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton) was actually shot in 2018 and due to be released two years ago.

Scarlett Johansson was poised to make her long-awaited solo outing as Black Widow (set before Endgame, in which she met her demise) in May, but the super spy will now be back in action on November 6.

The delay also threw out the carefully planned Marvel Cinematic Universe, pushing the Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek-led The Eternals to February.

Coronavirus also halted production on the Sydney-shot Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film with an Asian lead.

Shooting is due to restart this month, with a release date pencilled in for May.

Chris Hemsworth's fourth Thor film, Love and Thunder, will shoot in the NSW capital next year.

The MCU will also move to the small screen later this year, with WandaVision (starring Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch) and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier due to debut on Disney+ before the end of the year, followed by a Loki series next year.

Scarlett Johansson is back as Black Widow (pictured with Florence Pugh) despite being killed off in Avengers: Endgame.
Scarlett Johansson is back as Black Widow (pictured with Florence Pugh) despite being killed off in Avengers: Endgame.

 

DC DOMINATING

While the interconnected movie universe hasn't quite worked out in the same way for rival comic company DC, lesser lights such as Wonder Woman and Aquaman have found the love, outshining those alpha dogs of the comic book world, Batman and Superman, on the big screen.

Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman was due to return in June with her second solo film, but now audiences will have to wait until October 1 to find out how an Amazon warrior deals with the pastels and big shoulder pads of the '80s, as well as how the hell her love interest comes back from an exploding plane and whether comedian Kristin Wiig has the menace to pull off her new nemesis, Cheetah.

Gadot will also be back in Zack Snyder's Justice League, which will be released by streaming giant HBO early next year.

The 2017 cinema version - reshot and re-edited by Joss Whedon when Snyder had to drop out due to a family tragedy - was poorly received and underperformed, leading to a long campaign from disgruntled fans to give the original director a do-over.

Ben Affleck has handed the batsuit over to Robert Pattinson, and while COVID-19 stalled production on his reboot, The Batman, it's expected to be up and running again next month, with a release due in October 2021.

Cult favourite Doom Patrol is back for another season.
Cult favourite Doom Patrol is back for another season.

The small screen is where the DC characters have been truly superhuman in recent years, with a series of successful shows entirely unrelated to their big screen counterparts.

Aussie Ruby Rose may have hung up her cape as Batwoman, but the well-received series is available to stream now on Binge alongside fellow Caped Crusader spin-off, Pennyworth.

Also on Binge are five seasons of Supergirl, Swamp Thing and Legends Of Tomorrow.

Brand new series Stargirl - about a high-schooler who gains superpowers through a cosmic staff - will air on the same platform on August 25, followed a week later by the second season of the cult hit (and very adult) Doom Patrol.

Stan has five seasons of The Flash, and Netflix is home to Arrow, Titans and Gotham.

Regina King has been nominated for an Emmy for her role as Angela Abar in Watchmen.
Regina King has been nominated for an Emmy for her role as Angela Abar in Watchmen.

ANTI-HEROES

While most of superhero world falls squarely in the family friendly camp, there are some options for more adult fare.

The critically acclaimed, racially charged Watchmen - inspired by the  revered  1986  graphic  novel and the real-life 1921 Tulsa race massacre - arrived at the perfect moment in history as the Black Lives Matter protests took off around the world.

It's now streaming on Binge and well worth its Emmy nomination for outstanding limited series, as well as the lead acting nods for Regina King and Jeremy Irons.

Season two (a third has already been commissioned) of the absolutely bonkers but brilliant The Boys - about a band of vigilantes fighting back against corrupt, debauched and corporatised superheroes - drops on Amazon Prime next month, with a trailer promising new heroes and even more blood and weirdness.

Or try the quirky, dark and sometimes violent The Umbrella Academy, about seven dysfunctional superhero siblings.

It's based on a comic written by former My Chemical Romance front man, Gerard Way. Season two has just been released on Netflix.

Originally published as How to get your superhero fix


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