James Wan praises Marvel Studios for being able to successfully adapt Thor and Captain America on the big screen and make both characters global icons. Gearing up for his own superhero project with Warner Bros.' Aquaman, the director offers some insight into what he believes are the MCU's most surprising hits in its first 10 years of existence.
Capping off their monumental first decade with the release of Ant-Man & The Wasp, the MCU has had an extraordinary year with the release of box-office breaking movies such as Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. But while the franchise has released hit after hit in the last 10 years, there are two characters that Wan is particularly impressed by, considering how Kevin Feige and his team were able to brilliantly translate them from comics to the big screen.
Speaking with EW as part of the outlet's feature story on Aquaman, Wan candidly shared that he believes Marvel Studios' most surprising hits are Thor and Captain America. “I actually think the most incredible thing [Marvel] did is making Captain America and Thor accessible to the mainstream - especially outside of the United States. The moment you can make a character called ‘Captain America’ work in Russia and China, then anything is possible,” he explained.
In hindsight, Wan has a point. Bringing Captain America to the big screen considering his boy scout image from the comics was very tricky, especially since DC's Superman - who is dubbed the epitome of the classic boy scout hero - already exists. Many were initially worried that The First Avenger would be too silly in a world where he needs to rub elbows with a classic cool hero like Tony Stark/Iron Man. But after Marvel pulled off Steve Rogers' origin story, they continued to evolve his character in a way that he now feels modern without losing the essence of his character from the comics.
As for the God of Thunder, some may argue that it wasn't really until last year's Thor: Ragnarok that Odinson finally found his groove in the MCU. But before the mess that was The Dark World, Kenneth Branagh actually crafted a decent debut for the God of Thunder. Plus, it introduced fans to the now pop culture icon, Loki, who is arguably one of the most fleshed out non-headlining MCU characters to date. While Marvel obviously struggled to find the right tone for Thor, things are now looking great for the Asgardian king as he's finally become a franchise-favorite thanks to Taika Waititi's Thor 3 and eventually Infinity War.
With all these things said, perhaps what made pulling off Captain America and Thor a lot trickier compared to more obscure characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy is the timing of the release of their movies. Both films were essential to Phase 1's lead up to The Avengers, but it's easy to forget that at that time of Thor's release, the MCU really only had one smash hit: 2008's Iron Man. Had Thor and The First Avenger flopped, it's not difficult to imagine that the whole franchise would've collapsed even before it really achieved anything. Characters like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange had the backing of the Marvel Studios brand, which meant less pressure to succeed considering the MCU had already been established by the time they rolled out in theaters.
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019