Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ Movie Universe: Was it Worth It?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated April 15th, 2014 at 11:23 am,

After Avengers: Phase 2 of the Marvel Movie Universe

Avengers 2 Marvel Movies Discussion Marvels Avengers Movie Universe: Was it Worth It?

As you can see from our final verdicts on the 5 solo films that brought us to this point, Marvel Studios still has room to improve their approach to building a shared movie universe. Sure, some fans will continue to point to The Avengers as “evidence” that Marvel is doing things 100% right – but again, the success of Avengers (which we gave 4.5 out of 5 stars, please remember) isn’t the point. The point is: how well do the solo films stand on their own two feet? When you go to drop your hard-earned cash to watch the entire Avengers saga on home video – is every chapter worth your while?

Going forward, Marvel Studios would do well to learn from past mistakes and find a better balance between telling complete stories for their individual characters, and maintaining the awareness, fun and (hardest of all) logic of their shared universe. From questions like “Why doesn’t Iron Man just call The Hulk for help?” to the dangers of an over-crowded playing field  (where certain characters get marginalized), Marvel is going to need a much bigger Movie universe timeline if they hope to maintain this world in an orderly fashion.

If Marvel truly plans to go in two directions with their films – into the Cosmic Universe with movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor 2; focusing on Earth-bound threats in Ant-Man, Iron Man 3, a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie and/or Captain America 2then we’re ALL going to need a focused and clearly-marked path in order to follow the story. Below you’ll find some tips for building “Phase 2″ of the Marvel Movie Universe – tips that Marvel Studios might do well to consider:

Stick with the “Showrunner” Model

It’s working for TV series like Mad Men and Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad – and it has worked for both DC and Marvel’s most successful movies to date: Gather a small circle of talented people and let them run the show. Marvel’s movies culminated with such delicious synergy in The Avengers largely because of a few individuals leading the way: Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has always been the biggest shepherd of the Mavel Movie Universe, and Joss Whedon’s involvement with both Captain America and The Avengers is a large reason why those films stand out from the pack. That’s not to mention Robert Downey Jr.’s consistent and much-needed collaboration on the Iron Man and Avengers franchises.

Now that Marvel has Whedon, they should lock him down the way DC/Warner Bros. tried (failed?) to lock down Chris Nolan as the “godfather” of their universe. Even if Whedon isn’t directing the film in question, or even writing the screenplay, let him consult on all projects (as he did on First Avenger) while Feige oversees the business end. Sure, reach out to creative talent like Edgar Wright (Ant-Man) and Alan Taylor (Thor 2, Game of Thrones) – but have Whedon be the final word on how to combine the narrative pieces and shape the characters. We’re not trying to brown-nose, but the man clearly has the talent to manage this Marvel Movie Universe the right way.

Be Efficient: Make the Logical Connections

marvel movies ant man black panther dr strange Marvels Avengers Movie Universe: Was it Worth It?

Black Widow was a somewhat wasted character in Iron Man 2, as Hawkeye was a wasted character in Thor – they simply weren’t needed in the respective films that introduced them. But where the execution might’ve been wrong, the idea was sound: Do more with these solo films – just do it smartly and logically.

For instance: Ant-Man is  a tricky prospect to sell on its own; however,  Ant-Man: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. would make sense (and is the rumored approach to the film) and could introduce any number of additional characters (Wasp, The Vision, or even Black Panther, if they went in a direction similar to the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon show). Dr. Strange, a mystical character, seems like an odd choice for a movie franchise – until you link the Sorcerer Supreme to Thor 2 via the cosmic artifacts hidden in Odin’s vault. That’s called “getting more bang for your buck,” and it’s a game plan Marvel would be wise to adopt. If you know the characters and their worlds well enough, you should be able to utilize the obvious points of intersection.

Know The Limits

How many characters are there? How many different versions of those characters? (Are we talking TV Hulk? Or movie Hulk? Which movie Hulk again?) Are the movies separate from the TV shows? Is the outer space stuff related to the Earth stuff? Wait… how many characters are there, again?

When Marvel Studios was first announced, many fanboys and fangirls rejoiced. Many of them were under the impression that this new studio represented a change – that the people who should be in charge of the characters were finally in charge of the characters, and no wrong would, or could, be done. But there have been missteps, and the flagship of comic book creativity has become something more rigid and corporate in its pursuit of big-screen glory. (“Marvel” is now “Disney/Marvel.” Just chew on that for a minute.)

3 Versions of Movie Hulk Marvels Avengers Movie Universe: Was it Worth It?

How much Hulk can you handle?

The fantasy of “doing it for the fans first” has likely dissolved with the billion dollar-plus earnings of The Avengers; the money is officially on the table, and it’s going to be seized. But therein lies a bit of irony:

A shared movie universe is a veritable Jenga™ stack. It’s totally impressive when you keep finding ways to add another layer – but the higher it builds, the easier it is for one wrong move to bring down the house. There are always limits to a good thing – and people are always told there are limits to a good thing – but they still push those limits anyway. So I’m not expecting a miracle in this case. However, Marvel should be careful and do the one thing that so many other studios do not: When it comes to expanding their product base, don’t just ask “Can we?” also ask, “Should we?” Because as it stands, trying to keep TV Hulk separated from movie Hulk is already giving me a headache.

marvel studios logo1 Marvels Avengers Movie Universe: Was it Worth It?

Despite some criticisms, it’s been a fun ride watching Marvel fill movie screens with the stories and characters that so many millions of fans have adored for so long. Indeed, the ride has already been great – but like the truest of fans, we only want it to get better down the road.

As usual, we’ll keep you updated on the status of all Marvel Movies, as soon as information comes to light along the journey to Avengers 2.

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  1. Now, after going through the entire article, I think the problem here is – we are free to say something went wrong and so we do. But, nobody that has criticized the movies for trying to be more than standalone films has suggested what could have been done to prevent it.

    Iron Man 2 is a classic sequel case. It shows us something we had already seen in IM1 and so that thrill of novelty was missed. Apart from that, it enhanced the Iron Man individual story adequately. It developed the relationship between Pepper and Tony and worked on the continuity nicely. Nowhere did it seem that Avengers portion actually tied the individual story down.

    As with Thor, it’s problem was a severely less enthralling final act and not the tie in Shield connections at all. As was mentioned correctly, the character metamorphosis seems forced and done in a hurry, but yet it’s believable. If only the last act was a bit more action packed spectacle, it would have worked much better.

    All in all, I think the universe was worth it and all the individual pieces fit in nicely if not brilliantly. I hope with Avengers an established timeline and what should be a good clear way forward, the crossovers will be better.

  2. Not going to lie would have loved to seen a Spidey cameo during the huge battle at the end.

    • I would have settled for The Punisher myself.

    • Spider-man would not have been able to be seen in the movie due to being the property of another company.

      Think about this, though. When Iron Man was falling after delivering the nuclear missile, wouldn’t it have been a pop if instead of the Hulk catching him, a spider web catches him.

      That would have been a way to have Spider-man without him appearing in the film.

      • um no that`d be bad becuz that shows that he did something in the film and besides,and though i`m no comic book historian, i would hate to see spidey make this kind of crossover you speak of. He`s not an avenger and the more characters you put in the less screen time they have or role in the film they have. let`s try to make sense we can`t have 5 superheroes in their own films while being assembled at the same time.

        • oh and i`d hate to say that i may have no more spidey so i need other films to replace spidey as my favorite superhero franchise. of the 4 avengers i love the hulk and iron man the best because their names are so straight forward and so is hulk`s powers. but when they`re all assembled together they`re the best awesomeness they can be. using a sequel to replace actors makes it

          • not make sense. That`s a completion to that sentence which i didn`t finish. I can`t enjoy the films if they don`t make sense. They have a new actor for the hulk which i thought kinda sucked and looked like a stinky fast-food eater and of the 3 actors to portray the hulk i thought Eric Bana was the best. i believe hulk needs to be serious and has to be someone who doesn`t really enjoy having a monster inside him. Eric Bana played the role completely seriously and more seriously than the other 2. Someone who looks serious and controlling.

        • spider-man had been an Avenger

          • well what i meant was he`s nothing like any of the 4 avengers.

        • no, spiderman is a avenger, thats why many fans hate thats the rights to him ARE WITH SONY!. < Get your facts straight mate.

          • Spiderman is NEW Avenger- and I don’t mean just chronologically. The first Avengers team- Iron Man, Cap, Ant-Man, Wasp etc has since been disbanded. The initiative to have a super hero conglomerate is the reason why other Marvel hero’s reformed the Avengers, but clearly are not the same team- hence the NEW AVENGERS. As far as the team we see on the big screen, Spiderman was never a part of that team. Sure, he worked along side them during arc’s like the Secret Wars (as did the Fantastic Four and other groups, yet you don’t consider Spidey part of the Fantastic ‘Five’) but he was never a member.

            Basically, after Civil War the writers needed to spice up the Avengers team. People are only just now being introduced to them in the movies, but for the rest of the fanboys they’ve been together since 1963! The comics are obviously much farther along in the timeline, where we see Spiderman become an avenger. However, he is NOT part of the Avengers we see on screen, and likely never will be- (despite the whole studio movie rights issue).

        • seem to manage that balance in a 20 min cartoon.

      • I totally agree. Thought the same thing myself.

  3. Was it worth it? Hell’s yeah! Also dc’s justice league movie universe was amazing…. oh wait ha ha ha :p

  4. was it worth it is the final question, after givign your case and idea’s, then yeah it was worth it. sure msitakes are gonna happen but let’s take a look at Doctor Who for a second. DW has been on since 1963, and is celbreating it’s 50th annveristy soon. So it ahs its own shared universe with Torchwood, K-9, and other shwos. Who made soem msitakes throughtout its long run, but tis worth it., I think it will only get better, sure amybe a few hickups in canon, but as far as I can see it can only get up, and lets hope they get spdier-man.


    • i heard somewhere that marvel have sold the x men
      wolverine included

      • The Fantastic Four have also been sold (to which studio I can’t remember, and don’t care to look). However from what I understand if another F4 movie isn’t made by 2014 the rights revert to Marvel (which will be Disney/Marvel at that junction).

  6. Actually, Marvel’s Shared Movie Universe is pretty good. It’s cool. But I still think that it could be better. One of the things that I dislike is when they’re being inconsistent with the characters.

    I mean, okay we have Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron-Man, Iron-Man 2, and The Avengers so that we know that those movies are related and connected.

    So do with Chris Evans as Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in Thor and The Avengers, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Iron-Man 2 and The Avengers, Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor and The Avengers, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers.

    From that we know that the movies are connected. But for me The Incredible Hulk isn’t connected well. I mean, on The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner is played by Edward Norton not by Mark Ruffalo like in The Avengers. So, who’s the “new” Hulk? Are they different? Because Tony Stark in those both movies are still the same. Personally I think that only the appearance of Tony Stark which connects both of the movies.

    The same thing goes for James Rhodes in Iron-Man and Iron-Man 2. Terrence Howard is playing as James Rhodes in Iron-Man but suddenly in Iron-Man 2 Don Cheadle is playing as James Rhodes instead, while Tony Stark is again still the same. Are those James Rhodes different? There are 2 James?

    This is what I call “inconsistent” and this is what ruins the whole universe. You have 1 Tony Stark for lots of movies, but you’ve several Hulks that makes it useless having the same Tony Stark.

    Just my personal thoughts. Overall, this Marvel’s Shared Movie Universe is cool, and probably an awesome idea. Just IMHO it can be BETTER.

    • Part of the problem lies with actors, not the continuity.

      With James Rhodes, Terrence Howard didn’t want to do IM2. However, Rhodes was essential to the plot, and will probably be in Avengers 2; as War Machine. If not Avengers, then at least the SHIELD film, as in the Avengers comic series, Nick Fury has to fake being dead for awhile, with Hill taking over then Stark taking over for a time. If I recall correctly, War Machine steps in to fill in Stark’s (Iron Man’s) shoes, as he has experience with the suit already.

      I’m unsure how or why Edward Norton did not reprise the role of the Hulk, but I thought Mark Ruffalo fit the role well. The CGI Hulk even uses Ruffalo’s face, and was terrifically expressive in Avengers. I had not expected the Hulk to steal the show in Avengers, but he did indeed. I rather enjoyed this new take on Hulk, as being more than the mindless rage monster. At least it isn’t Ang Lee’s terrible adaptation.

      • From what i know….there was a fallout in the negotiations between Norton and Marvel regarding the pay….Although I think Mark is a better match…he seems more Bruce Banner….more scientist-like….plus bruce banner also wears glasses(which they kinda missed in the incredible hulk)…also changing the actor kind of gave them a few liberties…change the way HULK looks,change the way Bruce Banner looks…..would love to see another HULK stand-alone movie!!!

  7. Marvel Studios should bring their “One Shots” from the DVD extras to the screen BEFORE each Marvel film ala “Pixar Shorts” to introduce secondary characters. butts are already in the seats to see IM3, Thor 2, Cap 2… etc… give us a 10-15 minute short on Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Wasp… etc… Perfect way to inro them without investing in a MASSIVE film.

    • Tom, that’s a great idea. They could use it to test the market for each character. My only worry is that they won’t do a good job with the shorts.

      • I don’t know, Chris. The shorts I’ve seen, such as the DVD extra from Thor, with Coulson stopping at a gas station to get some donuts, was brilliant and displayed how Coulson works; and that he’s more than he seems.

        But yes, Tom, great GREAT idea.

    • Brilliant idea!

    • yeah this thought has crossed my mind would, for me it would be great!

  8. I think so long as they use a good director, be it who is directing that feature on an upcoming feature and a good writer, it’ll work.

  9. It’s silly that people are “fans” and make the comments they do. Ang Lees Hulk was not liked by most because they didnt want to see a dramatic hulk and most people i heard this complaint from liked Lou Farigno in green body paint (ugh, loved as a kid but hated once i read comics and learned how truly powerful this guy was…as done well and accuratley by ang lee)..

    Edward Norton was a premadonna and was demanding too much control by him and dominance for the hulk character in the story line….Mark Ruffalo was a great Hulk, great actor, and is playing an older, wiser Hulk.

    Spiderman, X-men, Fantastic Four are all licensed to other companies and will not be making any appearances unless studios starting merging or working together and honestly Marvel in-house are the only ones doing anything right..

    Avengers was well worth it, the cosmic cube(aka tesseract), Thanos’ inclusion, the blue gem in Loki’s spear being one from the infinity Gauntlet(read online),PLUS the fact that if you follow the MCU then it all links together well in very well written continuity.

    Also, Spiderman = not an original Avenger nor is Wolverine….

    and @youfan…seriously? recasting someone confuses you?…you probably should never get into the actual comics cause the retcons would literally make your head explode…Oh yeah Terrance Howard was replaced for similar reasons to Ed Norton, less about creative control and mostly because he wanted more money to return….but cmon man, Don Cheadle is the s***, as is Mark Ruffalo

    I think theyre doing a great job of making it accessible for non comic fans….i wish Iron Man movies were a little more adult, bring up Tony’s alcoholism…Thor was slowest paced of all but should be as it was directed by Kenneth Branaugh and kind of has a different Shakespearian/dramatic feel…Captain America was the Cap personified and Chris Evans is really making me feel his boy scout persona lol…everything is going awesome in my book. i just hope they dont start going campy…only thing that would make it all better is if they didnt care about young money and made these all R-rated

    • No, I didn’t say that recasting characters is confusing me. I just said that recasting characters was the one that ruined the whole Marvel’s Shared Movie Universe. My point was, it’s useless to have the same Iron-Man but they change the Hulk several times. It’s the one that ruined the continuity IMHO.

      And I didn’t say that Mark Ruffalo was bad. He’s awesome. Also, I didn’t say that this idea was bad (it’s awesome), I said it could be better.

    • You really think an R rated Avengers or Avengers Tie-In movie would be good? Because I honestly think that an R-rated Avengers film would be one of the most ridiculous things ever. It wouldn’t suit the tone of the characters or series. An R-rating might fit for some of Marvel’s darker series(Daredevil, Punisher etc.) But the idea of an R-rated Iron Man, Hulk, Thor seems pretty silly to me.

    • You are wrong. Edward Norton wasn’t fighting for creative control. Louis denied it. so get your facts straight!

  10. I hate black widow character.its full of crap.everyone expects and like super nature hero’s character not boasting and irrelevant character like natasha romanoff.really that was b******* and irrelevant character in that movie.