Analysis | The success of Captain America: Civil War
It has been called one of the best superhero movies of all times as well as the best Marvel movie ever made. The success that Captain America: Civil War has garnered is extraordinary so I’ve decided to briefly analyze how and why it has become so successful.
I’ve broken down my analysis into four parts: What came before, Character development, Marketing, and Current circumstances.
What Came Before:
The success of Captain America: Civil War is due thanks to the success of those movies that led to the war. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was set in motion in 2008 with the release of Iron Man, and from there the momentum has not stopped.
The Marvel Studios films did extremely well in the box office with their Phase One set of movies (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers) earning them a total of $3.812 billion (3,811,989,406) dollars, with The Avengers earning $1.520 billion alone.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe got even better with its Phase Two set of movies (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man) earning the studio a whopping $5,272,635,443 billion (both Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron earned over $1 billion).
So it is no surprise that Captain America: Civil War has immensely flourished.
The movie released on May 7th in the United States and already it has garnered a worldwide gross of $1,110,580,457 billion dollars as of May 31st according to Box Office Mojo, becoming the latest member of Marvel's billionaires club.
Civil War is in essence the second culmination of the MCU’s collection of movies since another War is coming soon (Infinity War). Some have even dubbed Civil War, Avengers 2.5, due to the massive amount of heroes included.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for their great actors and actresses who have developed their characters for a long period of time, and this is another reason why Captain America: Civil War was so successful.
What is the point of a universe of interconnected movies if the audience can’t connect with the characters they are supposed to either love or hate? Marvel Studios has done an excellent job at establishing their cinematic universe. It has come to the point that most people can’t imagine anybody else playing the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man other than the legendary Robert Downey Jr, or Black Widow played by the marvelous Scarlett Johansson. It is this important aspect that led to the great success of Captain America: Civil War.
The audience has had an emotional connection with the Marvel characters since 2008, so the drama and tension behind Civil War was something the audience already understood and came prepared to experience.
One character, Agent Phil Coulson played by Clark Gregg, was introduced in the first Iron Man and later appeared in Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Avengers where he was supposedly killed. Gregg’s outstanding performance as well as the audience’s accumulated love for his character I believe was one of the reasons Marvel decided to bring the character back from the dead, and form the now hit television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In order to have great character development you also need great actors, and this can be seen in the MCU, not just in their older films but also in their most recent ones like Ant-Man. Paul Rudd joined the MCU family in the 2015 movie Ant-Man, but it sincerely felt like he was part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe all along.
The same goes for Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, and Zoe Saldana who all joined the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland who just joined the MCU as Black Panther and Spider-Man respectively.
Just like the movies are connected, all these points are connected. It is due to the MCU’s great critical and box office reception that Marvel is able to cast such great actors and actresses.
Most of the actors and actresses in Captain America: Civil War had already performed together in previous MCU films, so the chemistry was also already established.
One unique component being the actor Paul Bettany, who only voice-acted as Iron Man’s computer artificial intelligence JARVIS in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and the first half of Avengers: Age of Ultron, later to live-act as the character Vision through the rest of Age of Ultron and all throughout Captain America: Civil War.
Of course if you don’t promote your movie then it won't reach a large audience, well Captain America: Civil War had one of the most interesting and innovating marketing strategies ever. With a movie based on a team divided in half, Marvel took this idea and dominated social media sites like Twitter and Instagram with their promotional hashtags #TeamIronMan and #TeamCap.
During the weeks before the release of the movie in the United States, Instagram was flooded with posts of people picking their sides, and I was one myself who took part in the fun (#TeamBlackWidow of course).
Apart from social media, the cast of Captain America: Civil War also held press conferences and interviews, each time adding more heat to the hype.
A day that the internet in all sense broke was on March 10, when Marvel released their second trailer of the movie. This was the trailer when we finally got to see the brand-new MCU Spider-Man played by Tom Holland.
Moments after the release on YouTube, media websites along with the rest of social media trended the news of Spidey, escalating the expectations of everyone who had already bought their ticket and those who still had not. That was another aspect in their marketing strategy that worked out perfectly. Tickets to Captain America: Civil War where available to buy in March, two months before its release on May.
Marvel also released promotional YouTube videos that highlighted the issues present in the movie in a fun and interesting way. One video was one of Robert Downey Jr. in Paris near the Eiffel Tower where he identified it as the Iron Lady and applied to the structure the colors of Iron Man; truly great. You can watch it here.
Another set of videos included newscasts of the MCU's WHIH Newsfront:
Other videos involved members of either Team Iron Man or Team Cap interacting with fans and answering question via twitter.
The marketing behind Captain America: Civil War was phenomenal and it was definitely one of the reasons why the movie earned the love of movie-goers everywhere.
Captain America: Civil War was released in the United States on May 7, but before its release there were two superhero movies that were already sitting in theaters.
Fox’s Deadpool released on February 12 in the U.S. and instantly became a hit. Being also that it was rated R, audiences were set to experience a superhero movie like never before and it totally paid off. The buzz that Deadpool created definitely increased the expectations of movie-goers.
This year as well as last year, has become one of the best years for comic book superhero movies. To date, Deadpool has garnered a total of $763,335,933 dollars as of May 31st according to Box Office Mojo, making it the top-grossing film in Fox’s line of X-Men movies.
Batman v. Superman
The other superhero movie that was also currently in theaters before the release of Civil War was Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Though negatively praised, the film to date has garnered a worldwide total gross of $871,779,318 dollars as of May 31st according to Box Office Mojo.
Deadpool’s popularity combined with the overall disappointment of Batman v. Superman could have definitely been a factor that affected the success of Captain America: Civil War.
Because the audience demographics that went to see Captain America: Civil War is practically similar as the audience demographics of both Deadpool and Batman v. Superman (teens and adults, comic book readers, etc.), it is a safe assumption that people that went to see Deadpool, and Batman v. Superman, or both, also went to see Captain America: Civil War (I myself saw all three).
Right now Captain America: Civil War is the number one movie of the year worldwide, as well as the number one movie of the year in the United States, based on box office results.
Captain America: Civil War is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three set of movies and is directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. Next up in Marvel Studios’ 2016 lineup is Doctor Strange, which is scheduled to release on November 4.