MAKE MINE MARVEL is an opinion piece.
A decade ago, Marvel Studios released its maiden production – Iron Man – and the world of movies have never been the same.

As of this date, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has grossed over $17 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the most successful movie franchise of all time.

It is no exaggeration to credit one man for this phenomenon – its President, Kevin Feige.

Feige has been instrumental in executing the critical strategy behind the MCU, taking its cue from the comic books to build a shared universe amongst each and every movie in the franchise.

Feige has been patient in this process – letting the characters and stories develop organically, making the appropriate changes to maximise appeal to mainstream filmgoers .

Considering that the MCU has had to make do without Marvel’s premium intellectual properties like Spider-Man (licensed to Sony), X-Men and the Fantastic Four (licensed to 21st Century Fox), the achievement is even more mind-boggling!

Naturally, other studios have cast envious glances towards the MCU and have in turn, applied the same formula of a shared universe with so far underwhelming results.

Warner Bros – armed with the DC Universe – its own superhero universe – has seen its own efforts crash and burn, with the messed up Justice League only earning $657 million worldwide.

After a troubled production – firing Zack Snyder and bringing in Joss Whedon – the production ballooned to $600 million – making the movie a massive flop.

Warner Bros have been clueless with handling their potentially hot DC properties, flip-flopping on tone and failing to support their directors, resulting in mixed bags.

Warner Bros have backed away from the shared universe concept, green-lighting standalone features including movies for Aquaman, Captain Marvel (Shazam), Joker, Harley Quinn (Birds of Prey) and of course, Batman.

Lots of work ahead of Warner Bros but done properly there’s no reason why the DC Universe should not succeed like the MCU.

Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise in December 2012 and set about creating a Star Wars shared universe, which despite early gains under Kathleen Kennedy’s stewardship have since The Last Jedi, divided and alienated the fanbase (!) to such an extent that Solo : A Star Wars Story set an unwanted precedent for Star Wars – an unmitigated critical and commercial disaster.

In response, Disney called a halt on proposed Star Wars shared universe projects (for e.g. Boba Fett) and at the moment are solely focused on a successful delivery of Episode IX.

Despite numerous rumours to the contrary, Kathleen Kennedy has been given an extended three year contract to sort out this mess that Star Wars is in. Kennedy has much to do to repair the division in the fanbase and personally, I am not confident that she can. We shall see.

Sony lost heavily with Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2, putting the brakes on their own Spiderverse plans but have recovered strongly due to their agreement to allow Spider-Man to be part of the MCU, with Marvel Studios handling the creative aspects of the Spider-Man movies.

Smart move indeed. The success of Spider-Man : Homecoming made Sony about $200 million in profits, re-igniting Sony productions for standalone films with licensed Spider-characters.

And so, we have a Venom movie – with Tom Hardy – but without Spider-Man. Conceptually difficult to grasp but if Venom is a box office hit, it will provide Sony (and Marvel Studios) an interesting path to more collaborations within the MCU.

The recent acquisition by Disney of 21st Century Fox has brought the X-Men and the Fantastic Four back into the MCU. However, due to the prolonged time frame it takes to complete the deal, Fox’s Marvel licensed projects – it appears – are still going ahead.

Having seen the recent trailer of X-Men : Dark Phoenix, it does seem that Fox is once again dropping the ball as far as an adaptation of this classic storyline is concerned.

Why bother? Shelve this and let Feige tell this story properly. Makes no sense whatsoever. While the return of these key characters seems fortuitous, it may also serve to complicate Phase 4 of the MCU.

With the DC Universe and Star Wars in relative disarray and the MCU’s unchallenged dominance at the box office, how Feige handles this transition will determine whether the MCU prospers in the next decade.


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