The abundance of super-hero movies in recent years, fuelled by the fight between Marvel-Disney and DC-Warner Bros has sometimes been difficult to follow, even for dedicated comics enthusiasts. With so many super-hero themed features hitting the screens, critics and speciality betting punters have also had to work hard to keep up, and for bookmakers, these movies can be hard to way up.
On the one hand, they have enormous box office potential, and their high profile means they can often edge into consideration for awards, including Oscars. But at the same time, bookmakers also know the history of the Oscars, in which no super-hero themed movie has ever won the Academy Awards’ most prestigious gong; for Best Picture.
As a result, they tend to take a tentative approach to pricing up this genre in the Best Picture betting markets, and that’s certainly the case with the latest instalment in the X-Men series, Dark Phoenix, which is set to be released in June. Paddy Power rate it as a 50/1 chance in the Best Picture market, the same price as another X-Men feature, The New Mutants, but much bigger odds than those given to the leading super hero contender in this market, Avengers: Endgame (14/1).
And in this case, the long odds are not just down to the lack of success this genre has enjoyed in the Best Picture category over the years. Although Dark Phoenix is based on a classic comic narrative and has a box-office friendly cast featuring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence, early predictions suggest it could be the least commercially successful X-Men movie yet.
That list now extends to twelve X-Men movies, with Dark Phoenix supposedly being the seventh and final entry in the main series. It’s also the second time that director Simon Kinberg has been involved with the Dark Phoenix story, having written the screenplay based on the narrative for X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) which didn’t fare well with critics, though handily for Kinberg, the events of X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) effectively erased the events of his previous movie from the timeline.
But with heavyweight contenders such as Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman (3/1) and Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat (4/1) dominating the market, Dark Phoenix looks an unlikely contender to scoop the Best Picture award at next year’s ceremony.