EDITORIAL: How I Believe Marvel and The Avengers Have Changed Things
Wishful Thinking or Clairvoyant Awesomeness? You Decide.
Marvel started something previously unimaginable with Iron Man in 2008 and in four years has possibly changed the future of Comic Book Movies. The idea was to simply create a cinematic universe in which various characters exist. It isn’t a revolutionary idea as both Marvel and DC have used this technique in various mediums for decades and the premise can be boiled down to “branding,” which every company uses in its marketing strategy. However, within big budget motion pictures, the idea of a shared universe was always a fanboy’s wish.
It wasn’t easy for them to execute, and admittedly for us to sometimes watch. Iron Man 2 was bogged down with the task of continuing Tony’s story while establishing the web of the universe. It was distracting. Thor and Captain America had moments which completely removed me from what was happening because we suddenly had to tie everything to the universe. It was fun for hardcore fans, but unless one of us were there to help explain things to casual fans or just movie goers, it was slightly odd.
However, the critical and box office success of The Avengers showed everyone, to the tune of 1+billion, that this strategy works. It is possible to please lifelong comic fans as well as casual fans and create something general audiences will love as well all within a shared universe. if you think every studio doesn’t have a room full of people working on copying this blueprint in an attempt to create similar success then stop reading.
Hopefully, this will cause DC/WB to get their act together. There are many paths to the destination, and DC/WB have decades of material to draw from to find its way. What I find more interesting is Fox.
Fox owns the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Both franchises had an original run and are in various stages of rebooting - X-men with a prequel/reboot and the Fantastic Four in a development reboot production purgatory. X-Men First Class didn’t have anything showing a larger universe overtly, but the film has the potential to be the basis of the “Fox/Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
It isn’t outside the realm of possibility to reboot the Fantastic Four in the ‘60s or ‘70s, using the FBI as a bridge to connect the two franchises in the same way SHIELD was used by Marvel Studios. Now, it would clearly be blasphemy for Fox to create an amalgamation of the Franchises, but it would be great to see them band together in a shared universe to defeat a threat neither team can handle on their own and there is plenty of crossover in the source material to draw from.
Such an idea was a pipedream until late April, but success coupled with a monetary juggernaut tends to change things. The possibilities of a time specific shared universe are endless. The X-Men are juxtaposed against the American Civil Rights movement. The Fantastic Four are set against the moon landing. The two can coexist through the Cold War, Vietnam and a smattering of the world’s trials and tribulations.
If a shared universe isn’t in Fox’s way ahead, then they are doing it wrong. Marvel showed that it can work and how to do it. Successful innovation is always piggybacked and Fox has an opportunity to create something fun, unique and special. Of course, it is all dependant upon Fox respecting the source material and dedication to treating the properties seriously.
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