In recent years, the buzzword has been ‘cinematic universe’ with studios racing to establish and build out massive multi-film franchises even before a first film has been released.
All are trying to emulate the success that Marvel Studios has had with its now well established Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they’re also trying to get to the same level of success faster. The trouble is, almost all have fallen flat on their face.
Universal’s Dark Universe effectively collapsed after its “The Mummy” reboot fizzled. The fifth “Transformers” tried to establish one and ended up earning significantly less than its predecessors. Sony’s “The Dark Tower” adaptation bombed on impact and the studio is currently trying again with Spider-Man after their previous attempt with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” was bad enough the whole franchise had to be reset.
Then there’s the DC Extended Universe which has been commercially solid but a critical misfire other than “Wonder Woman” and to a lesser extent “Man of Steel,” and that’s mostly because those were the most standalone films of the series. With the exception of Warners’ mini-“Conjuring” series which has had robust success, almost all recent attempts at instant interconnected franchise building have been disappointments.
Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, in a new interview with Vanity Fair, has offered a common sense answer as to why others are failing at it:
“The only advice, and I’ve sort of said this already today, is don’t worry about the universe. Worry about the movie. We never set out to build a universe. We set out to make a great Iron Man movie, a Hulk movie, a Thor movie, a movie, and then be able to do what, at the time, nobody else was doing: put them together.
Bring that experience that hardcore comic readers have had for decades of Spider-Man swinging into the Fantastic Four headquarters, or for Hulk to suddenly come rampaging through the pages of an Iron Man comic. We thought it would be fun for filmgoers to get that same – on a much bigger canvas – rush, because there is something just inherently great about that: seeing characters’ worlds collide with one another.
That’s what is so amazing every day on the set of ‘Infinity War.’ These characters have no business being in the same room together. It’s ridiculous. Everyone within Marvel Studios just knows the individual movie trumps the overall picture.
If there’s a better idea for a movie – if we were going to plant a seed in this movie that was going to be awesome and pay off three movies later, but that seed is not working and that seed is screwing up the movie, goodbye. We’ll do something else later. Make that movie work.
The notion of sitting down going, ‘Let’s build a cinematic universe,’ might be a little off. ‘Let’s sit down and make a great movie and if people are interested in that, there are ways and ideas to tie them together going forward.'”
Marvel’s next film out of the gate is “Black Panther” which is slated to hit cinemas on February 16th.