The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has made films since 2008. They have produced twelve films, The series has collectively grossed over $9 billion at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Harry Potter franchise of 8 films is second with 7,723,431,572 million dollars. It is not even arguable that the performance is a fluke. It was definitely earned though hard work and planning. So what have they done right to put them in this envied position?
The first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Iron Man (2008), which was distributed by Paramount Pictures. Paramount also distributed Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), while Universal Pictures distributed The Incredible Hulk (2008). Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures began distributing the films with the 2012 crossover film The Avengers, which concluded Phase One of the franchise. Phase Two includes Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and Ant-Man (2015).
All the films had one thing in common Kevin Feige as Producer. It is not a coincidence or by chance that he was chosen. He was the perfect choice being made President of Marvel Studios in 2007. He has been in the producer role for many years since 2000 starting with X-Men and ending with Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007. He had helped with 13 films and experienced the good and bad of those pre-MCU movies. Feige was an important part of the franchise success Because of his extensive knowledge of the Marvel Universe. He knows how to put a cohesive team of movie makers together with a plan of producing Marvel stories in phases to tell a complete story about the very interesting and rich Marvel Universe through film. His plan was to build this MCU, movie by movie.
The post-credits scenes are done effectively and are a brilliant crowd pleaser with movie fans. They are talked about for months after the film to generate more interest in the next movie in the series. You can hear people in the audience at the movies say, “don’t leave yet there is always an important scene in the credits, we have to stay”. The first film history of post credit scenes began as far as I know with 1978 film “All You Need Is Cash” and in 1979 with “The Muppet Movie. Then in later films like “Airplane!” in 1980, “The Howling” in 1981 and “Ghostbusters” in 1984 and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in 1986. Non Marvel movies have been using post-credit scenes for years. Some studios have said they would not use them because that is not the way they do things like Warner Bros. Well they have used them in the past in two films I can think of “Green Lantern” in 2011 with Ryan Reynolds and “Constantine” in 2005 with Keanu Reeves. Marvel certainly did not start this policy of scenes in the credit but it works and they use it as a trade mark.
The success story began with the first movie in the series in Iron Man. Not the most well known Marvel character Iron man soon became a fan favorite because of the acting of Robert Downey, Jr. He was cast in the title role in September 2006, after growing out a goatee and working out to convince the filmmakers he was right for the part. Then in 2008 he showed the world he was born to play Tony Stark. I still remember the scene before he became Iron Man where he stood like a musician in an orchestration of the explosive might that he was demonstrating before the military, his hands are in the air as the bombs went off in perfect precision behind him. Then after his captured by the bad guys he brings to life the creation of Iron Man and reveals it to the world.
Tony Stark was the glue that eventually brought the Avengers together as a team to work with each other to stop Loki the brother of Thor in his attack of New York. Downey, Jr’s acting was superb as he challenged Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner. The casting of Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and even Clark Gregg as S.H.I.E.L.D’S Special Agent Phil Coulson was outstanding casting. It brought a chemistry of actors that is un-matched in movie projects like this. Each movie was carefully made and crafted to tell part of the whole story that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Joss Whedon, writer and director of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron set the bar high in the two team up films he directed. Every other superhero movie is compared to the quality of these movies. Both movies easily made the billion dollar club in box office revenue showing the fan popularity. Since 2008 no movie franchise has dominated as the MCU in every conceivable way. They have not tried to do it all at once but film by film. They have established a beach head that is going to be hard for any other studio to take from them. They earned the respect they have from movie goers who expect quality and an enjoyable 2 hour experience with each movie.
It started with quality at the top and great acting and story telling with a plan to reveal the Marvel Cinematic Universe one film at a time to give viewers the big picture. Feige and company have caught a vision of the Marvel Universe and have brought it to the big screen. It adds a new meaning to the phrase “make mine Marvel” started back in the early days of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in the selling of the comics of those days.
So how will other studios Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Warner Bros. compete with this juggernaut called Marvel Studios. First they should tell their story of a shared universe one story at a time, and be true to the characters and who they are. Take your time in revealing the wonderful and rich history that is the superhero world. Then make us want to come back for more and see what it’s all about. Quality before production. Any studio can produce a movie but quality is what brings the viewer back for more. See you there at the movies and check us out at Comics Talk, comicstalk.com. Walt Stiles