I’m a fan of Marvel movies. Shocking, I know. Downright rebellious, saying something like that in this day and age. But it’s true. I’ve enjoyed every one of their movies so far, and am really freakin excited for what’s still to come. They’ve done something that has never been done before with their cinematic universe, and are, deservedly, raking in all the cash. Who would have guessed when Iron Man came out in 2008, it was launching the largest film franchise in history? I knew who the character was, but many others had no idea who this man made of irons was. Little did they know the ripples that would come from his pebble being thrown. But what are the true ramifications of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Other film franchises have tried to do what Marvel has done in the past. Just look at the messes that were the Alien Vs. Predator movies. But seriously, don’t, they’re awful. Two succesful franchises came together and the results were utter garbage. Then there’s Freddy Vs. Jason, which, while kind of entertaining, was pretty much a waste of time and energy. These were shoddy attempts to smash two franchises together and hope that some money was made. Marvel, on the other hand, created a game plan. They laid deliberate seeds for an Avengers movie, teasing and tantalizing audiences, getting them salivating for what was to come next. And then, after 5 successful films, Marvel brought all their characters together for an incredible superhero brawl. It was amazing, and the entire population went and saw it like, ten times, it was so great.
But naturally, there are consequences to this success. Only, not for Marvel. Now audiences are the ones who are having franchise after franchise thrown at them, each one hoping to be the next big cinematic universe to take a piece of the Marvel pie.
The biggest contender that Marvel has with regards to a rival cinematic universe is, naturally, DC. Man of Steel came out in 2013 to lukewarm reviews and went on to make over 600 million worldwide. It is the first film in a planned series of films in a shared DC cinematic universe. Next up is Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and it is set to feature not only Batman and Superman, but also feature Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg.
Boom, just like that, they’re all going to get thrown at you. Now, I’m not going to condemn this plan. It could work, and it could work well. Many times I lament the fact that we keep getting reboots of characters and they always do an origin story. We already know how Superman came to Earth, we already know that Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, let’s get to the compelling stuff already! So maybe that’s what DC is doing, they’re skipping over origin stories in order to tell amazing tales of adventure and drama! Probably won’t work very well, but it could be great, who knows? If nothing else, there’s something to be said for not simply copying Marvel. They also have multiple movies planned following Batman Vs. Superman, further expanding the DC cinematic universe. I have no problem with DC doing this. Their comics all are connected, and has worked many times when animated on the small screen, and is starting to be really good live-action on the small screen (for more thoughts on that, check out here!), so go for it, DC. Just get better at it, really quick. Man of Steel was…a movie.
But then we get to the stranger stuff.
First up is Spider-Man. The rebooted universe gave us an origin story and a sequel, which followed the tiresome trend of adding multiple villains in subsequent movies. Now Fox, the rights holder for Spider-Man, is talking about making several spin-offs, the most prominent being the Sinister Six, a film that would supposedly be about six of Spider-Man’s villains. This is an interesting thought, and would be pretty unique for the superhero genre. It could make for a really stand-out movie. The problem, however, is that the two Amazing Spider-Man movies have been tragically sub-par. The stories are filled with plot holes, characters behaving irrationally, and downright silly happenings, like Peter seeing Gwen’s dead dad everywhere. That’s not heavy-handed at all. So here’s another expanded universe that could be somewhat interesting, if the quality gets kicked up a bit. Oh, and the Sinister Six would feature a (probably gritty) version of this guy:
Then there’s the recent non-starter, Dracula Untold. This was a film intended to launch a new version of the classic monsters line-up in a shared cinematic universe for Universal pictures, including Frankenstein and the Wolf-Man, maybe the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Who knows? Probably not us, ever, as the film underperformed and probably will not have any follow-ups. This is most likely a good thing. It wasn’t too long ago that audiences were plagued by Van Helsing, a film that attempted to do what Dracula Untold was setting up for, a meeting of the monsters on the big screen. Now, I haven’t seen Dracula Untold, but based on reviews, it wasn’t a spectacular movie. So we may never get to see what they were ultimately going to do, but that’s OK. Based on Van Helsing and the critical response to this film, it was probably better to nip this one in the bud.
So how do I feel about the recent trend of building huge cinematic universes? I think that it can be great. Just look at what Marvel has accomplished! They’ve made one of the most entertaining group of films ever! But even they have to be careful. They’ve announce many of the films that are coming out in the next few years, and there’s a very real risk that audiences will grow fatigued and tired of the universe, especially as they delve into more and more obscure characters. Though, Guardians of the Galaxy did exceptionally well, and it starred a talking raccoon and his vocabulary-challenged tree friend, so who knows what audiences will be into next? A shared cinematic universe allows for characters to grow and change and can make for some really interesting interactions between unique individuals. They just need to make the movies good. In the end, All I really know is that, thanks to the success of Marvel’s cinematic universe, more and more attempts will be arriving in the future, so audiences better be prepared for some punishment to try and find the true gems.