ByFergus Coyle, writer at
Movie lover, wannabe director and resident DC nerd. Get more from me at:
Fergus Coyle

All across Hollywood, the thing that's consistently bringing in the most money is the idea of multiple different film franchises being all connected under one "cinematic universe". The most prominent example is that of Marvel. They began with making films about Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk before teaming them all up in the mega successful Avengers. This particular universe is the most lucrative one as well as the only example to have properly found its feet yet among audiences. Almost every other company however, is playing desperate catch-up to try and cash in on all of the money that Marvel have been printing during this venture.

But no-one seems to be asking the question: is it all a good thing? Does the concept of a cinematic universe made up of different film series actually produce better films than the usual approach? To be perfectly blunt, I don't think so.

Don't get me wrong, I think Marvel have done some brilliant stuff with their franchise of films. But if we look at three of their best films: Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers; they all separate themselves from the wider arc of the universe as a whole. Iron Man is the first film and the whole thing is its legacy, it was made as very much its own thing. Guardians of the Galaxy has virtually no connection to the rest of the goings on, featuring a completely new cast of characters in a completely foreign location. The Avengers, while being the culmination of the whole concept, was deliberately made so that it wasn't necessary to be clued in on the films that preceded it, making it accessible to the general audience as a blockbuster.

On the other end of the spectrum is Avengers 2, Thor 2 and Iron Man 2. Hmmm... that's a suspicious amount of twos. But anyway, Avengers 2 is blatant brand management; everyone expected another Avengers film, so we got one full of too many plot threads, a cookie cutter villain and no real focus at all. Thor 2 was made because the first Thor was fairly successful and the way "Phase 2" (the second batch of Marvel, i.e. films between the first and second Avengers), meaning that it gives us a very basic story with no real point other than to introduce another infinity stone. Then there's Iron Man 2, which simply puts in place a series of plot threads to set up the Avengers, leaving the actual film a complete mess.

What I guess I'm trying to get at is that a cinematic universe is restrictive to the people creating the individual films. Whether or not the creative team behind a film actually has some kind of vision for a particular idea, they have to be restricted by the overarching threads of what the overall world is like. To give an example, Warner Bros. are currently attempting to build an expanded universe around their own plethora of heroes, which they started with Man of Steel, and will be kicking off in full with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of justice. In their plans for said movie franchise, they have an Aquaman film. But because of how serious and gritty Man of Steel was, the fairly light-hearted world of Aquaman will have to fall under that same style. Which makes me kind of sad.

Wrapping Up...

Well, that was a nice rant to go on about for a few minutes. Whether or not you agree will be completely personal taste, but I feel like I made a good case for myself. Either way, do let us know your opinion in the comments and as always, enjoy your life.


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