When I was a kid, I read pretty much Marvel comics exclusively. I only knew DC comics characters from Saturday morning cartoons like SUPER FRIENDS, the 1960’s BATMAN in syndication and the seminole 1978 SUPERMAN movie from Richard Donner. The comics always seemed too kiddie for me. Marvel had flawed characters that even a 9 year old could relate to. In the 1970’s Warner Brothers bought DC comics, the entire thing therefore obtaining all rights to the movie and television rights to the characters. In 1989 with Tim Burton’s BATMAN movie, comic book adaptations gained a lot of momentum, and Marvel’s characters were sidelined by legal disputes (covered in a previous blog).
in 2010, Disney acquired the entirety of MARVEL and all of the characters not already leased to other film companies. MARVEL STUDIOS continued their business plan of a shared universe, something they had been doing in the comics since 1962. It was always the appeal of comic books that they all lived in the same reality and team ups (or dust ups) might occur at any time. SPIDER-MAN might need the advice of REED RICHARDS of the FANTASTIC FOUR.
I can recall a poignant storyline in the AVENGERS whereby TONY STARK was having an affair with his teammate YELLOW JACKET (Hank Pym, aka ANT MAN)’s wife. When I read this fairly adult storyline, I thought to myself that my parents have no idea that these ain’t really kids’ stories.
MARVEL’s cinematic endeavors have been a huge success. WARNER’s did great with BATMAN and the reboots with Christopher Nolan, but aside from that, GREEN LANTERN died a horrible death, creatively and financially. When MARVEL went through a 6 movie setup for AVENGERS, then it paid off as the 3rd highest grossing film of all time, WARNER’s stockholders were looking for their AVENGERS money.
A plan was hatched to get to a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, but first they had to complete Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT trilogy, as that was a cash cow. Then they had Nolan exec producer MAN OF STEEL to lend name credibility to the project. After that, WARNER needed their AVENGERS money ASAP and they fast tracked BATMAN v. SUPERMAN : DAWN OF JUSTICE, with an immediate follow up of JUSTICE LEAGUE 1 and 2.
I think this is a tragic mistake. They’re introducing an all new BATMAN in a new movie (so we can reboot over 10 years or so, because people NEVER tire of the same origin story over and over and over again). Going to the full group movie before introducing each main character means the audience won’t relate to them in the same way as AVENGERS. The missing ingredient is time. It isn’t just an IRON MAN movie or two before AVENGERS; it’s having each movie and a year or two on home video for repeat viewings, creating an emotional bond – strengthened by time and reflection – that is what makes these movies resonate.
MARVEL is also doing a lot of television, with the lackluster AGENTS OF SHIELD, the much better AGENT CARTER, and soon to be DAREDEVIL, JESSICA JONES, LUKE CAGE, and IRON FIST shows, all culminating into a team TV series THE DEFENDERS. Each of which can have potential crossover with the movie characters, which by the way MARVEL TV – you might want to do more of that and soon. DC has determined to make their CW series on characters, ratings hits by the way, completely separate from the cinematic endeavors. Another mistake for WARNERS.
MARVEL is on the verge of the release of the 2nd AVENGERS film, and they did one movie each for the franchises biggest players (except HULK). It will dwarf DC/WARNER’s movies. They came first in the 1930’s, but with cinematic and television, it looks like WARNER is going to always come in 2nd place.