Ever watched a Marvel film? Pretty much everyone has at this point. Well Marvel started something with that Iron Man after credits scene that snowballed into the Avengers films we have all seen and loved so much. It's all a part of their cinematic universe, and having one of those is the coolest thing in Hollywood right now. I better define what is meant by a cinematic universe before I begin. A cinematic universe is one where a long running series of films develops spin-offs, sequels and potentially prequels. Several of the ones I will be talking about have many characters with their own stand alone films in addition to team up films with all the characters in them. Why are cinematic universes so popular for film studios? Partly because everyone loves them, partly because using different actors and directors allows the time between the next film to be cut from a couple of years to a few months. The different potential universes I am talking about in this article are split into current, upcoming, and rumoured. Let's start with what we know:
Current Cinematic Universes
Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Above you can see Marvel's "Phase 3" Line up of films. They are so good now that they are able to plan half a decade in advance, because they know with full confidence that none of the films in between are going to mess up. It was a genius idea, and the confident helming by Kevin Feige has driven Marvel from peak to peak. Everyone is beginning to wonder when they will reach their "Everest" as it were, meaning the peak that you can't get higher from, you can only go down. Frankly I don't expect this to happen any time soon. Marvel started the cinematic universe popularity, while they didn't introduce the concept, they've certainly modernised it by sculpting a beautiful network of films and TV shows, all of which are brilliant. You can see above what they have planned, and Feige, in his infinite wisdom, has told everyone that he has plans through to 2028, which is just astounding.
Fox Marvel Universe
You could easily argue that the Fox Marvel films up to this point haven't been so much a Cinematic Universe as they have been Wolverine films, and X-Men films centered around Wolverine, but that's all changing now. The releases over the next 14 months of Fantastic Four, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse and Gambit are going to shake it up majorly, and we will see a very much changed Fox world after them. Whether it causes a complete collapse and re-sale of the properties to Marvel, or an outstanding new Cinematic Universe of young actors, we have yet to see.
DC Warner Bros Universe
I put in a picture of Suicide Squad because it shows just how different Marvel and DC's approaches are. Even now, I'm not sure Marvel could do a film about just their villains (except maybe Loki) and have it be a guaranteed success. DC are jumping in with it as their third film. This universe is still very much in early stages, but they too have plans through the rest of the decade, which is very confident. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to set this off with a bang, and it's going to be a great way to start it, or a horrible way to find out that it isn't going to work. DC are separating themselves from Marvel by bringing out a team-up so early on, but it could be dangerous to not have a solo Batman film anywhere on the horizon, when he is clearly the most popular character of recent times in your range. However they have an advantage over Marvel with TV, having an expanded universe between Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. While it doesn't happen in the same world as the films, it is a confirmed part of the multiverse, meaning they could cross over at some point.
Upcoming Cinematic Universes
Universal Monsters Universe
I'm certainly more than a little confused about what is happening with this one, but it appears that Universal are taking several of the monsters that they have been making films about for eighty years or so, and making a universe out of them! While this is interesting, I don't quite know how well it will work. Recent success that other studios have had with making these monsters into heroes has been a good indicator, but it also means Universal may have competition, because they don't strictly hold the rights to any of these characters. They are planning on starting this all off with a reboot of "The Mummy" in 2017, although it's only just found it's director! Technically it seems that Dracula Untold was the start of this, however Luke Evans said that he wasn't interested in returning to the role, so I'm not sure how that works. Aside from those two, they have planned out a Van Helsing film, a Wolf Man film, and there are rumours surrounding Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein all being involved as well.
I constantly get updates on the state of a possible Godzilla cinematic universe from my younger brother Adam, who has been obsessed with the character since he sat and watched every one of the astounding 30 films made about Godzilla before last year's film by Legendary pictures. It seems that there are rumours that along with Godzilla 2 (planned to feature monsters like Mothra, Rhodan and King Ghidorah) there may be other films about other monsters in the series, like MechaGodzilla. There are also many fan dreams about Pacific Rim crossing over with Godzilla, something which could be possible, albeit they had better be on the same side, otherwise Godzilla would tear them apart!
Star Wars Expanded Universe
I have to say, that picture is a wonderful thing. Disney knows how to make a cinematic universe, they made the Avengers what it is today. They have plans for a trilogy of core Star Wars films, as well as at least three spin-off films. I almost wouldn't have counted it as a cinematic universe, until the Disney CEO said those things about being open to having entire TV channels about Marvel and Star Wars, which made me realise there may be a huge amount more coming. There could easily be a number of TV shows made in the Star Wars Universe, and everyone would cry with joy if it happened, but it remains for now a big screen property.
Transformers Cinematic Universe?
I'm definitely skeptical about this. Transformers films are summer blockbusters through and through. That's partly because they are directed by Michael Bay, and partly because they don't have much of a cohesive story to them. They don't make any sense. That's fine if it's just a franchise, but a cinematic universe is more for story telling, and I'm not sure that is right for this. Nevertheless, it looks like they are interested in doing a solo Bumbelbee film and a Megatron origin story, as well as continuing with the adventures of Optimus Prime as he goes off to find his creators, and let's face it, something still has to happen on earth, because where else are all these aliens going to fight?
Rumoured Cinematic Universes
I'm not quite sure here, but I think that James Cameron is going for a kind of expanded universe with Avatar. He's spending so long writing and focussing on it that a series of sequels seems less likely than branching off into different stories about different characters. Let's face it, by the time he actually gets all of these made, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are going to be too old to do it! He's probably going to branch out a little more, at least we can hope he does.
I apologise in advance if I get a little excited about this one, and maybe it is jumping the gun including it in this list, but I couldn't help it after reading this great article by Peter Flynn which you can read here. He talks about all of the different films that the Harry Potter franchise could branch off into, and he is totally right of course! The last film came out in 2011, and yet it isn't fading at all! JK Rowling keeps bringing out new information about what happened to the characters, and everyone is still loving it! Surely a full blown Cinematic Universe can happen!
Before I finish, I want to have a minute of silence to mourn the loss of a cinematic universe...
Let's be honest though, things are about to get a whole lot better for Spidey... if Marvel would hurry up and finish casting him that is!
Thanks for reading! Like ComicalTheory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Feel free to comment about any Cinematic Universes I've missed!