As some of you may remember, earlier this year I wrote a similar post regarding the DC cinematic universe, it only seemed right to examine their closest rivals with the same scrutiny. It can be argued, and is, a lot, that the MCU is much better than the DCCU, better conceived, better realised, a generally better output and success quota if you will. On an artistic level, I can’t possibly comment to that effect because I just don’t think it’s strictly true personally, however, on a gradient of continued commercial AND critical success, Marvel Studios continues to lead in leaps and bounds. To comment on the MCU’s continued success it would only be right to go back into it’s recent history to examine why this is the case, to do that, we should probably go back to 2008.
Marvel has had its own movie studio since 1993, then known as Marvel films, not that it would have been massively noticeable prior to the late noughtees, after many years of licensing it’s best content out to other studios, Marvel took the plunge of reinvigorating their own ailing film studio by announcing the production of an Iron Man movie, this would be the first of many Marvel Studios productions and the beginning of their pre-planned phase release schedule. A year later, Marvel was purchased by The Walt Disney Company which heralded a big turning point for the future of the MCU. In Marvels ‘Phase 1’ portfolio we were given film outings of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and tied it all up with the formation of The Avengers. Using phase 1 for origin stories afforded Marvel the luxury of allowing a new audience to become familiar with these characters and end it all with a big event movie featuring all of them. With the odd blip, the phasing plan was a resounding success. As we know, this is a model that DC have used in dribs and drabs for at least 3 of their flagship characters in the lead up to Justice League but it has been nowhere near as concentrated or focused as when utilised by Marvel Studios, it has been a massive part in their success.
Since then Marvel have actively reacquired much of their licensed out I.P and taken their phasing approach to new and increasingly successful highs, the current phase 3 output seemingly placing a full stop to the MCU as we currently know it and very little announced past that other than a new Guardians Of The Galaxy. With a trend of assessing, augmenting and evolving their output as they go, it wouldn’t be remiss to assume at least some thematic changes for the MCU in the upcoming years.
When we try to look for other reasons as to the secret of the MCU’s continued success, one prime reason is undoubtedly their partnership with Disney. It has afforded them the best writers, directors, creative minds, technological magic and support the industry can offer, the same can be said of the Star Wars franchise. For all the fanboy booing at the time of its announcement, it can not be denied that this union as has been fruitful and massively rewarding for studio bigwigs & fans alike.
The MCU output continues to go from strength to strength and if they continue along the same evolving path they have been treading this past 9 years, i don’t see that changing any time soon. Sure, actors will come and go from roles as contracts expire or creative divergences are given license (female Thor is on the way, mark my words), new or lesser known onscreen characters will be allowed to take flight to see if they can soar to the heights of Guardians Of The Galaxy or Ant-man but as long as writing, direction & flight of fantasy remain paramount, it will remain to be the same MCU that we love for many years to come.