‘Early Milky Way’ image via hubblesite.com
Success breeds imitation, and in the past ten years few movie companies have been successful as Marvel Studios.
And while many in the Hollywood community seem surprised, if they had any idea of the pent-up demand for seeing characters like Iron Man, Falcon and many others that millions of people have grown up with from Marvel Comics, on the silver screen, they probably wouldn’t have been.
Though what made Marvel Studios such a success wasn’t superheroes in and of themselves (despite the aforementioned demand) but the way they were presented.
What Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, brought to the table was the creation of an integrated cinematic universe, the likes of much had never been seen in movies before (coupled with extremely faithful interpretations of the characters).
And as far as ‘imitation’ goes, other companies have tried to mimic the approach of Marvel Studios, with varying degrees of success.
Sony Pictures attempted to create a cinematic universe based on Spider-Man with The Amazing Spider-Man movies. After an initially strong showing, the sequel–while profitable–indicated a definite downward trend, financially speaking, for the franchise.
So they, perhaps anticipating the franchise falling precipitously enough that the rights would eventually revert back to Marvel, instead entered into a deal where future Spider-Man movies would be under Marvel Studios’ creative control, while both studios produced (some have written that the upcoming movies would be produced exclusively by Sony, with Marvel providing only creative control. This literally makes no sense at all because having only creative control gives Marvel Studios relatively little, while granting Sony access to the uber-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., is one of the most successful Marvel Studios’ characters, who’ll next appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming).
Universal Pictures plans to create a cinematic universe based upon Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man and the Mummy (which is filming with Tom Cruise in the lead). At this point it’s too early to tell how well it will do.
What’s perhaps most surprising is the current position of DC Films in the world of the cinematic universe. ‘Surprising’ because before Marvel Studios was barely an idea they were producing movies based upon Superman and Batman. The problem was that–for reasons that will probably never be entirely known–they never built and expanded their offerings, despite seemingly ample opportunities to do so.