Writing for The New York Times, and serenely ignorant of the comics-and-movies key party underway on the other side of the country, A.O. Scott wonders if super-hero movies have said all they have to say:
“Instead the disappointment comes from the way the picture spells out lofty, serious themes and then … spells them out again. What kind of hero do we need? Where is the line between justice and vengeance? How much autonomy should we sacrifice in the name of security? Is the taking of innocent life ever justified? These are all fascinating, even urgent questions, but stating them, as nearly every character in ‘The Dark Knight’ does, sooner [or] later, is not the same as exploring them.”
I’m guessing he’ll make Manohla Dargis review Watchmen.
In fairness, I don’t think a lack of novelty or gravitas has ever hampered a genre to the degree that it kills the thing entirely. Over-saturation is a likelier culprit when it comes to putting a genre in a persistent vegetative state, as it did in the ‘80s with slasher films, a genre that got revived via ironic self-awareness in Scream, which triggered a wave of ironic, self-aware slasher movies, which is now over for a while, but probably not forever.