The superhero genre has been one of the most profitable in cinema for fifteen years of uninterrupted projects and a fierce battle between Marvel and DC. Despite this, it is inevitable that the genre will undergo a reinvention.
DC recently announced that the upcoming release of The Flash, which will be released on June 16, will reboot the publisher's big-screen saga. For its part, Marvel has decided to focus on quality over quantity by reducing its theatrical and streaming platform releases after the disappointment of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which was moderately received by critics and audiences.
The rivalry between these two franchises is more intense than ever, they need to conquer a new, young and demanding audience. But how to stay true to the spirit of the comic books while meeting the expectations of a new audience? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these franchises?
A loyal audience despite increasingly frequent criticism
Since the launch of Iron Man fifteen years ago, all of Marvel's productions have been successful, with a few exceptions. The franchise boasts a loyal audience, even for the less popular films. Although Marvel's audience has become more mature and demanding, they continue to follow the franchise with consistent support. Each release generates enough interest on social media to be considered a success by the end of the release week. This is a very strong point of the franchise.
A unique way to tell stories
Marvel's cinematic universe has created a solid foundation by connecting its films together since Iron Man, in addition to establishing a tone and foreshadowing future films via post-generic scenes, the studio has innovated in narrative and continuity techniques. This has allowed them to build bridges between plots and play out multiple storylines at the same time, which has not been very effective in previous film franchises. This approach has been a great advantage for Marvel in its rivalry against DC.
A very profitable box office
The profitability of Marvel movies is undeniable. The Box Office Pro figures demonstrate their continued success. The third phase, which began with Avengers: Infinity War in 2016, ended in 2019 with Avengers: Endgame, which became the most profitable film in history with a revenue of $2.8 billion. Since Iron Man, the franchise has always been distinguished by its profitability. Most of its films have been commercial successes such as Thor, developed by Kenneth Branagh in 2011, and Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon in 2012. Guardians of the Galaxy volumen I, directed by James Gunn, was also a success with $773 million collected.
Too much content
Marvel's cinematic universe has become complex enough that the amount of content has become an obstacle to its success. Thirty-three films and eight series, including an animation, are part of its interconnected storylines. If a new viewer wants to discover the Marvel universe, they need to know the details of half of these productions to understand the continuity of their stories. During its fourth phase, Marvel introduced new characters and their origin stories, making the franchise increasingly difficult to understand.
Lack of independence
To this day, no film in the franchise is completely self-contained. Each piece of content foreshadows a future story, making much of the films like a stepping stone to a more general conclusion that is sometimes unclear. This is a real problem for the franchise as it fails to get a new audience involved from the first film regardless of a prior story. There are hardly any films that stand on their own anymore.
A disappointing fourth phase
The last phase of Marvel was badly received by critics and fans, which suggests that the studio is starting to move away from the spirit of the comics. This is particularly noticeable in the quality of the films, which have become increasingly inconsistent. Marvel has broken many records, but it is very difficult to renew such a franchise without a renewal in the writing of scenarios and future projects.
In order to meet the expectations of a new audience, it is important for Marvel to renew itself, while preserving the spirit of comics that made its success. The war against DC continues and Marvel must adapt to stay in the race.
I'm a big fan of short stories about people – I'm a pro at tech and smartphones, serial literature, and writing in my spare time.