Marvel Studios revolutionized Hollywood tentpoles with their shared universe model, bringing numerous film properties all under one umbrella where interconnectivity would be a defining trait. At first, the practice was thought to be overly ambitious, especially since Marvel did not own the film rights to their most recognizable characters (Spider-Man, Wolverine). However, their plan obviously worked extraordinarily well, as evidenced by the record-breaking box office numbers of the first Avengers film in 2012. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now clearly established as one of the industry’s premiere franchises with numerous successes under their belt and potentially many more on the horizon.
With other studios seeing the lucrative benefits of Marvel’s strategy, other shared universes have made their way to the big screen. Warner Bros. has started to grow the DC Extended Universe, Paramount is piecing together one for Transformers, and Marvel’s Disney brethren Lucasfilm are releasing annual Star Wars films for the foreseeable future. It’s safe to say that without Marvel paving the way, none of this would be happening right now. Even though there are many following their lead, none will be able to top the original pioneer; at least, according to Captain America himself, Chris Evans.
While at the Team Cap press conference to promote Captain America: Civil War (hat tip Variety), Evans was very enthusiastic about the future of the MCU. Saying that he wants to see “the wave get bigger and bigger,” the actor praised Marvel’s formula for delivering quality superhero films, suggesting that it’s irreplicable:
“They’ve got a monopoly on it, they’re doing it and no one else can try and copy it.”
Evans’ comments are sure to ruffle a few feathers, particularly those who view the DCEU as a challenger to Marvel. Most likely, Evans was just simply pumping up the MCU and expressing excitement for all the studio has accomplished since 2008, but his words are arguably laced with hyperbole. Marvel is perhaps the top dog currently in the comic book movie genre, but Fox and WB were releasing adaptations long before the first Iron Man reached theaters. It’s true that the MCU was the first to attempt the shared universe strategy, but it’s hard to say they have a “monopoly on it.” Superheroes have never been more popular at the box office, and recent films such as Deadpool and Batman V Superman set new records commercially.
It’s actually a good thing for Marvel if other studios try to launch their own shared universes. Competition breeds excellence, and having a (friendly) rivalry with WB or Fox could benefit Marvel in the long run, pushing them to innovate their formula so they can gain a leg up on their contemporaries. Marvel boss Kevin Feige believes that the more comic book movies there are, they better everyone is, so he clearly understands the value of having multiple companies developing superhero adaptations. Not that Marvel would get complacent if they were the only game in town, but the genre as a whole has more opportunities to thrive with a diverse slate of films that approach the material from different angles.
Regardless of what happens down the line, nobody can accuse Marvel of resting on their laurels. They recently screened Civil War for members of the press, and the reactions were universally positive, with some saying it’s the best MCU film yet. That’ll only make the wait for the general moviegoing public that much more unbearable, but to bide their time, fans can check out a new IMAX poster for the film (see it above).
Asking viewers to choose their side, the one-sheet features the teams at the heart of the titular conflict, showcasing a number of the characters in the film. Since it is an IMAX poster, its primary goal is obviously selling moviegoers on the premium format, advertising that select footage was shot using special IMAX cameras. This includes the 15-minute “splash page” sequence set in the German airport, so it sounds like Civil War will be worth the extra price of admission when it finally reaches theaters.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016;Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017;Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019;Inhumans– July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.
Sources: Variety, Marvel Studios