Turning the floor over to Jay Shooke--context is a HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE website commenter discussion re Joe Queenan's dismissal of the superhero film genre in THE GUARDIAN:
This is the kind of whining that comes from having no awareness of the comics industry at all. Like its already been mentioned, comics haven't been "cheap" or disposable for 25 years, or since they changed the distribution model to the direct market. Comics are now niche collectibles, printed on extremely high quality paper, cost 3 to 4 bucks a pop, and only available at small specialty stores. But that's besides the point...
The problem with superhero movies (and I want to make this distinguished, comics are a vast medium that tell many, very disparate types of stories) is not the source material being vapid or inferior, but in the poor adaptation of them. Comics, even superhero comics, have been home for some of the most out-there, cerebral and and almost inaccessibly dense genre stories being published. Writers like Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, and Jonathan Hickman are pushing incredibly daring and literary ideas, they just happen to be illustrated by some intensely eye-popping illustrative and graphic design work. Its the studios dumbing down the source material to hit all four quadrants [meaning every age level of moviegoer], and that's when you get repetitive narratives and senseless violence.
I get the complaints against the assault of cape movies every summer, but there's a reason they keep getting made. People love em, and its certainly not just geeks keeping them afloat. The most popular comic books are lucky if they sell 90k copies every month. Man of Steel is going to make around 300 million dollars domestic, so obviously its not just the basement dweller set making them happen. Average people want to see grand spectacle and larger than life characters when they plop down 12 bucks, and this is the type of movie that delivers that.