10 years, 18 movies, 12 different TV shows, and the largest box office opening weekend ever. This year, Marvel Studios is celebrating 10 years of their heroes in cinema, and they’re doing so with their most ambitious project yet; Avengers: Infinity War. With hundreds of millions of fans across the globe and over $15.4 billion in total revenue from ticket sales for all of their past movies, Marvel has easily become one of the most successful franchises in the world.
A Brief History of Marvel
On May 2nd, 2008, Marvel Studios stepped into the cinema spotlight with the release of the first Iron Man film. However, the Marvel Universe had been successful for decades before this with a very different form of media: comic books. The comic book franchise officially obtained the Marvel name in 1961, although they were publishing under different names as early as 1939. Since the adoption of the title ‘Marvel Comics’, the brand has regularly been pumping out books. These are most famously created by Stan Lee, who is also notable and recognizable for making a cameo appearance in every Marvel Studios film made to date despite his 95 years of age. He hasn’t done it alone though; Lee has been aided in his comic writing by other names, including Jack Kirby and Brian Michael Bendis.
These comic books have helped the Marvel name attract a fairly healthy fan base, even before Marvel Studios began making movies, and many fans have attachments to the characters outside of the film universe because of their introduction and development in the comic books.
Senior Ben Walus has been a comic fan since long before the first movie was released.
“I’ve considered myself a fan for about fifteen years,” he says.
Senior Landon Caldwell is also a long time fan of the franchise, saying that “I have been a fan of Spider-Man since I was young… like 8 years old or something.” He also says that Marvel has helped him in growing closer to his siblings, through both the comic books and the movie series.
“It has helped me build relationships with friends and family,” he says. “One of my fondest memories is when my step sister, Keri, bought me Spider-Man 2.”
He recalls fondly bonding over Marvel movies with his older brother, who helped him catch up on the films before going to see the first Avengers film in a drive-in theater with this brother and some of his cousins.
Even fans who haven’t read or bought the comics still find the information and development in the comics helpful and interesting to look into when considering the movies. For the most part, the movies try to stick to the same story line as the comics, and while there are some minor diversions, knowing context from the comic books can still be very beneficial to fans.
Senior Emily Sullins says “I’ve never bought the comics, [but] I do like reading about some of the characters online and learning about what they did in the comics.”
Sophomore Grant Badgley is of the same sentiment, saying “I have been interested in the comics, but haven’t actually read any.”
The comic book series includes all of the same beloved characters that are featured in the film franchise; however, the books also include characters who have not had films made as of yet, as well as characters such as the X-Men and Deadpool whose film rights do not belong to Marvel Studios. The movie rights to these characters belong to Sony and 20th Century Fox, respectively, and while they are produced in affiliation with Marvel, they are not made by Marvel Studios.
Until 2015, Sony also owned the production rights to Spider-Man, and made two separate series of films for the hero. These films starred Tobey Maguire in 2002 and Andrew Garfield in 2012. In 2015, Marvel Studios made a deal with Sony in order to tie Spider-Man into the Avengers film series for five films with new actor Tom Holland; so far, Holland has appeared with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018), as well as his own introductory film titled Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).
Avengers: Infinity War
It wouldn’t be a far reach to say that the anticipation by Marvel fan’s for the Avengers: Infinity War film was unprecedented, trumping previously made Marvel films in advertisement, outreach, and excitement. In fact, fans had been counting down the days to Infinity War for months, and box office sales reflect that excitement. Pre-sale tickets for the film topped the last seven Marvel films released, and placed the film as the top superhero preseller in history. After its opening weekend last week, the film sits at $250 million domestically and $630 million worldwide, officially breaking the record for the biggest opening weekend ever both in the US and internationally (records previously held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Fate of the Furious, respectively).
Emily notes the continuity of the franchise, saying that she likes how “all of the movies are connected and have been leading up to Infinity War for years.”
Now, after its opening weekend, it’s undeniable that the film shattered expectations in regards to sales, as well as Marvel fan’s satisfaction with the story.
Why the Franchise is so Popular
Over their 10 years of movie-making, Marvel Studios has attracted an incredibly dedicated and diverse fanbase. While the movies tie them together, every fan has their own unique take on what their favorite things are about the series, and what makes the Marvel universe so lovable for so many people.
One of the most commonly noted aspects of the Marvel universe is how the films all manage to tie together.
Landon says “they are able to cleverly incorporate different aspects of one movie into the other.”
Ben says that he likes “how many different story lines cross over each other and are present in other characters’ solo films and comics.”
However, this isn’t the only aspect of the universe that the fans love. Senior Alaina Gosheff says the thing she loves most about the Marvel universe is the characters and their development.
“I like hearing their backstories and considering how those backstories and personal histories affect their decisions in later movies.”
Grant agrees with this sentiment, saying that he loves how the films are able to present a sense of continuity while maintaining a grasp on individual characters and a variety of different heroes at the same time.
“I love how they are able to make movies with such variety yet still do a good job of managing individual’s character development, origin stories, and so on,” he says.
Expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
After a project as large and ambitious Infinity War, many fans are left wondering how Marvel Studios could possibly continue the storyline for “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” But the studio has no intention of stopping production on the film franchise any time soon. With 4 films scheduled for release in the next year, and plans for films stretching as far out as 2022, Marvel Studios is still going strong.
In July of this year, fans can look forward to the release of Ant-Man and The Wasp, a sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man. 2019 will be a big release year for the studio, though; Captain Marvel, the untitled Avengers 4 film, and the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming are all scheduled for release within 5 months of each other.
Sony also plans on continuing with their Marvel affiliated movies. In October of this year, they’re releasing Venom, a film centered around the popular Spider-Man antagonist of the same name. Also being released this year will be the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a film featuring a Spider-Man by the name of Miles Morales (rather than the more commonly known Peter Parker). This film will be expanding on the possibility of another Spider-Man, and potentially an alternate universe in which more than one Spider-Man can exist.
After all of their previous successes, and with all of these films scheduled in the near future, Marvel movie and comic fans have plenty to look forward to in the Marvel cinematic universe.