Let me make one thing clear: I watch some of these movies. I like how they look and sound and they entertain me. Venom was fun. Deathpool was creative. And I'll watch Spider-verse just for you.
I've no interest in criticizing comic-based movies as a media, why they are popular, or why they are reflective of a low-IQ public as Mr. Maher sadly did. That was myopic and just mean spirited of him and I can see why fans would take offense. Sometimes people just want to be entertained, and sometimes people find depth in things that others do not. That's what any creative form — art, call it what you want — is all about. Any engaging movie, music, literature should be exactly what you describe: an escape.
And yes - film (or at least commercial film trends, Saturday matinee movies, etc.) is indeed often a reflection of what's happening around us. UFO and alien movies during the cold war, Westerns in their heyday as you say. But they all do run their course, and perhaps the first signs of that are general fatigue and critics who — albeit condescendingly as you point out — yell, "Enough!"
That's great, and Marvel and DC films are probably keeping the cinema industry propped up. Lord knows I haven't been to the movies in over a year as nothing has made me want to go (other than Burning which frustratingly only had daytime screenings for what seemed like 10 minutes).
But let's be fair: what you're describing is just people interacting with one another. I had a funny moments like that last night on a street corner when I and several other New Yorkers were waiting for a light to change as we were freezing our asses off. I don't mean to devalue or disparage that moment, but those things happen to people who are part of communities. Note: that's what life is all about, and that sounds like a warm, fun moment.
That said, I recognize that the comic and related community is vibrant, amazing, and fascinating. I've covered Comic-Con, I've interviewed Cosplayers, I've been to E3 more times than I'd like to count and I've always been envious of the community, the depth of knowledge that people share, the excitement people have when something new comes out or a new series is announced. It just doesn't click for me. I pick up a comic and I see the story structure and I nope out. I start watching a Marvel or DC movie and I feel like I'm seeing the gridlines in the Matrix and I'm bored. Truth be told, I wish I could hop on board the suspension-of-disbelief train with this stuff, but it doesn't happen for me.
It's curious... I do love supernatural movies, and one could say the exact same thing about the corny tropes and story arcs that are so tired within that genre.
You're frustrated because you're simply asking too much of humanity. That sounds incredibly pessimistic, I know, but look at how huge the comic (and related) industry has become and you're just looking at a cross-section of society. There will be twats. And there will be defenders. And there will be the majority who, like you and Romier and Joey and others, will simply grin and go about your business.
I hear that, and I think it's certainly possible, but this is where I get off. First off, it is absolutely fact that characters like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, et al are part of modern mythology. Anyone arguing against that has his head up his ass.
BUT... I do think that avid comic fans are at risk sometimes of over inflating the value of what they're into. The storylines and characters become increasingly complex over time as multiple authors and artists re-interpret them and serve up new arcs and throw back some fan service. That's an incredibly rich ecosystem and, again, I'm jealous of those who are deeply engaged by it. But like any other art form that runs deep when it comes to passion and fandom, it's easy to overstate its immediate cultural import. If you listen to me wax bullshit about how incredibly crucial late-70s and early-80s punk rock was and is to modern society and aesthetic development you'd think I was a madman (unless you agree with me, of course).
My point, I suppose, is that, yes, it was shitty for Maher (or anyone else) to point at a comic and say "haha manchild!" But it's also a wee bit tiresome for some humans to hear about or read treatises on why Superman is philosophical allegory, especially if that person or author clearly has not done his or her literary homework. Not saying they haven't, but it's a relatively common thread that's sometimes a bit embarrassing for all involved.
In short: you be you because I have no problem with it. I just don't see what all the fuss is about.