"The Great, Marvel"
By Troy Sargent
There aren’t many franchises in the history of film that have had the financial impact and sustained success that the films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have had. The total gross of the eighteen movies that are part of the MCU since the start of what is generally considered to be the modern era of “Super-Hero” movie making, has been approximately $14.8 billion. Robert Downey Jr.’s 2008 film “Iron-Man” started the entire franchise off. It was wildly successful because it was a fresh take on the genre that had gotten stale and silly. Save for a few exceptions over the last thirty years with movies like Tim Burton’s Batman, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and the Wesley Snipes Blade series; many of the stories of exceptionally powered beings in tights with amazing abilities suffered and did not do well at the box-office. Along comes Downey in the titular Iron-Man, and a whole new era was awakened. It was doubtful that even the most ardent fans of comic book movies could have forecasted that from that title ten years ago would come an unprecedented level of sustained popularity. This runaway freight train of fiscal dominance appears to continue unabated, but are we coming to a point where the franchise will eventually collapse under the weight of its own demand because of jaded audiences that have a sense of “seen it all already, what else you got.”?? If it does, is it solely the fault of the heads of Marvel, or is it because Hollywood as a whole is a copycat industry that wouldn’t know an original idea if it came up and bit them on the behind? Perhaps the “Nerd Culture” that brought so much popularity and fuels the economic fire of the genre from video games and comic books to the movies is impervious to any downturn and will continue for the foreseeable future.
For many who aren’t the biggest of comic book fans, they can, and often do lump all superhero movies together. The likes of X-Men, (which although it is a Marvel title but not commonly thought of as part of the MCU) Batman, Superman, The Justice League, Wonder-Woman and others are all in the genre but haven’t had nearly the same amount of cinematic success. Those titles save perhaps The Justice League did not have the outsized expectation of the MCU. On April 27th, the newest installment opens. “Avengers: Infinity War” is expected to tie all the previous movies together with the story of the Infinity Stones and deadly super-villain Thanos’s attempts to acquire all of them. With the omnipotent power of the Infinity Stones, it would give one the ability to wield unimaginable power over the entire universe. This journey could prove as treacherous for the protagonist, the Avengers within the movie, as it could be for the producers of Infinity War as they consider the next phase of the franchise. Only the ticket sales and quality of this latest installment can really determine if we are coming to the end of an era or if the MCU can continue wielding the Midas Touch of movie making. If the superior quality and economic dynamo that is Marvel’s “The Black Panther” is any indication, there are few signs that the shine is wearing off the MCU any time soon.