The Impact of Cinematic Universes
With Avengers: Endgame looking to be one of the greatest events in cinematic history, it can be hard to remember that its legacy began just over a decade ago. The meteoric rise of superhero movies over the past decade has been mainly attributed to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The idea of having several films placed in the same universe where characters from different films can interact with each other has been consistently enjoyable to watch for millions of people. However, the massive influence of the MCU hasn’t been purely positive and it’s important to evaluate both the good and bad of how all types of cinematic universes have been incorporated into media.
A large part of why the MCU works is the phase structure. Since each phase formally ends with an Avengers movie, it’s fairly easy for newcomers to track. This strategy also works because most Marvel movies don’t rely heavily on referencing other movies. Clever nods to other films will be noticed by more hardcore fans, while newcomers can still enjoy the film without any prior knowledge. Additionally, this makes rewatching certain movies with added context a pleasurable experience. The movies also carry a level of consistency due to them being produced by Kevin Feige, a man who continually exudes passion for how superheroes should be portrayed in film. However, this consistency can be seen as a detriment to the creativity that goes into film making. With so many films being released each year, they tend not to take massive risks with each new film. Though there are some films that don’t strictly adhere to the “Marvel formula” the overall structure of the Marvel films hasn’t changed very much.
Due to the billions of dollars that the MCU made, the idea of creating cinematic universes seemed very lucrative to future filmmakers. The most notable example of this is the DCEU, a set of superhero movies created by rival comic book company DC Comics.These movies continually attempted to replicate the success of the MCU with their characters. They tended to fail due to them attempting to make big crossover events like the Avengers movies without spending the time to establish their characters first. Their efforts resulted in empty films that relied on pure spectacle instead of interesting character dynamics and compelling stories. The MCU idea wasn’t limited to the DCEU, with 2017’s, The Mummy, attempting to launch a Dark Universe for Universal Pictures that failed so tremendously that all future movies were cancelled. This mentality even affected Sony’s take on making superhero movies with the Amazing Spider-Man films placing more focus on creating an expansive universe than delivering a logical narrative. These studios fail to understand that Marvel made great movies first and placed their connection to the MCU as something novel but not integral to the story.
It looks as if Marvel will remain the king of cinematic universes for years to come with their television shows showcasing a similar display of effort in connecting each series. The release of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse demonstrates the immense potential that filmmakers can have for future developments when they focus on creating an entertaining film first. With the marvelous creators behind the MCU leading the way, the future of cinematic universes seems to be healthy and will continue to thrive for years to come.