When someone asks you about the greatest cinematic accomplishments of all time, I doubt the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the first thing that comes to mind. Despite the MCU’s ceaseless success and each film in the franchise averaging at an almost billion dollars box office each, they have faced many critics, most notably being Martin Scorsese himself who claimed that Marvel movies “aren’t cinema”.
It seems Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel studios, took this critique as a challenge and has since produced WandaVision. It was a big artistic risk for the studio but a success that shows Marvel is able to extend past typical action tropes. Whilst many claim WandaVision is Marvel’s first genuine artistic feat; I would disagree. Marvel films are not monotonous pay checks for Disney but instead, each film embraces vastly different tones and genres. Each director that comes on board brings something new to the franchise.
This plurality of Marvel films: from the Russo Brother’s spy thriller Captain America and the Winter Soldier to Taika Waititi’s wacky comedy Thor Ragnarok, is the key to Marvel’s success. Feige even told Variety: “I’ve always believed in expanding the definition of what a Marvel Studios movie could be. We try to keep audiences coming back in greater numbers by doing the unexpected and not simply following a pattern or a mold or a formula.” Marvel films do not stick to one format and it pays off; they are constantly dominating the box office and even their riskier ventures such as WandaVision prove to be wildly popular.
However, with the increase of Marvel content from Disney+ series to new films, some are questioning if audiences will become oversaturated and bored of the 23 film franchise. To this I only point to the longevity and success of Marvel comics, which began in 1939 and are still produced today. If the MCU follows the same trajectory of the comics, they will never run out of fresh and entertaining content.
Following the cultural watershed moment; Black Panther, the advent of the second female led Marvel movie, and increased diverse casting in the MCU, now is not the time for people to start turning away from Marvel content.
Since Marvel’s avid success, numerous other studios have attempted to mirror Feige’s model with little luck. Warner Brother and DC have tried and tried, and whilst they have produced some excellent movies which stand their own against MCU films, ultimately they have failed to emulate Marvel’s interconnected universe with their properties.
Kevin Feige has done what no producer in the history of film has been able to do; produce an intricately woven story over more than 20 films and now TV too. With three films in the top ten highest-grossing films of all time and an accumulated box office of $17 million over the course of ten years, it has become Kevin Feige’s world, and we are all just living in it.
Image: Brendan C via Flickr