I missed last weekend’s discussion because I was off having the time of my life in Hawaii – hopefully you can forgive me. But this weekend we’re back with a new topic, and it’s superhero movies.

It’s almost weird to think back a few years when each superhero movie that was released was like a precious gem, and each film’s box office was read like the guts of a chicken – what did this film’s take auger for future superhero movies? Now the superhero movie is a genre unto itself, ripe for parody in Superhero Movie. The next few months will see a slew of superhero type films being released, including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Dark Knight, Wanted, Hancock and Punisher War Zone.

What’s fascinating is that out of that bunch, only one film features a truly iconic character, that being Batman. Another features a well known character who has already had one high profile film this decade that didn’t do well, and another is a fairly obscure character getting a sequel to a movie that did okay. There’s also a superhero in the batch who has been completely invented for the screen.

The fears of a few years ago seemed to have been unfounded: the superhero genre is here to stay. There are a bunch of superhero movies on the slate for 2009 and beyond. But once upon a time the musical was the biggest genre in Hollywood, and that eventually died out as well. Could the huge number of superhero movies being released now lead to an audience burnout? Could this large number of films ironically kill future superhero movies?

Most importantly, is this especially likely now that most of the iconic superheroes have all been mined? Marvel Studios has begun focusing on their B-list (as far as the general public is concerned) characters, and they have some serious C-listers on deck. Sure, people care about Spider-Man, but will they care about Luke Cage?

And if the superhero movie dies out, is that such a bad thing? One side effect of this craze is that comics have become a legitimate source for movie adaptations, and not just superhero books. Could a dying down of the superhero movie genre open the door for people to start paying attention to less gaudy comic series?

So what do you think: What’s the future of the superhero movie?