Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Marvel, where I go through the Marvel movies over the next few months.
2012 will go down in history as one of those big years for movies. It seems like all sorts of really big films were hitting our screens. The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man and, of course, The Avengers. And out of those three, boy do The Avengers walk away the winner. So how exactly has this film changed the film industry forever?
Well I suppose it’s only fair to start with what led to its creation, which in this case if probably the Harry Potter film series. Now there was a ballsy move: could you create a film series using primarily the same actors over the course of a decade without audiences getting bored of the idea? Turns out you can remarkably well, but it helped given that it was all one big franchise based on some of the greatest-selling novels of all time. It was a BBC miniseries on the big screen basically. But Harry Potter clearly planted the idea that this sort of thing could be done. That you could have multiple movies in the same franchise and people would pay good money to go see them. So Harry Potter was clearly a big influence on the Marvel franchise. But how did that franchise in turn impact the rest of the film industry?
Well the short answer is: It worked. Perhaps one of the riskiest gambles in film history, if not the riskiest, paid off in a way no one was really expecting. The film was probably going to make its money back, making at least $220 million. They were probably looking at $600 million, $700 million at most. What they got was over $1.5 billion dollars, almost seven times what they spent making it. It’s now sitting as the third highest-grossing film of current times. Which is impressive when you realise Thor only made $449 million off its $150 million budget, Captain America only made $370 million off its $140 million budget, and The Incredible Hulk only made $263 million off its $150 million budget. Even Iron Man was only making $600 million off a $200 million budget. So Marvel was going into this expecting, at most, two to three times back what they spent making it (rather than the seven times they actually got). In short the Avengers almost made more money than the last four films combined. It paid off in a big way, especially when you take a look at what happened afterwards. Thor 2 made $665 million off a $170 million budget, Captain America 2 made $714 million off a $170 million budget and Iron Man 3 made a whopping $1.2 billion off a $200 million budget. They went from making two to three times their budget to roughly four to six times. Now these were characters people didn’t really know about. You could make the argument that people knew Captain America (but nothing more than ‘American propaganda symbol’), but Thor and Iron Man were complete unknowns to popular culture. So the fact that these characters could go star in a movie that was massively popular is impressive to say the least. But that’s by far from the only reason why this movie changed the film industry.
It proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, that people will happily watch other movies in a series, even if they aren’t necessarily interested in them. People who might not have otherwise seen Captain America or Thor do so in order to greater understand the connections between everything. It turns out that audiences really, really, really like inter-continuity. Who’d have thunk it? Now continuity had always worked well in comics, hell it was the main driving force behind some of them. Almost to the point of detriment, since the continuity became too difficult to follow and they had to reboot their universe (several times in fact). But here it works out wonders since audiences are interested in seeing how all these puzzle pieces fit together. They want to see the pay-off. This movie is essentially The Incredible Hulk 2, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and Iron Man 3, all in one go. But more than that, it does a fantastic job of building what came before it. Now the Harry Potter franchise did the same, to a degree. It paid off things found in earlier movies. But this worked so much better because people weren’t expecting it to pay off. No one really thought that the regular Joe would enjoy having their movies connected to each other. But, as Marvel proved, not only does this improve the film it also pays off in a big way financially. At the moment it’s the second highest-grossing film series, only behind Harry Potter (which it will probably surpass next year, even if Harry Potter’s series is getting a few more movies in the near future). Clearly the franchise on the whole is making a lot of money and proves that the system works. But since continuity is the next big thing in Hollywood, what can we expect from the future?
Well considering DC is now attempting to do something similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it makes sense that other films might try to do the same thing. Sony is trying to do the concept in reverse, building up a group of villains against one hero. Fox will no doubt try to marry the Fantastic Four with any other properties it has. The X-Men series… well, actually, that’ll just keep trucking as per norm since it’s always worked as a group ensemble piece. But what about the film world in general? Is it inconceivable that rather than use different terrorist groups, film companies just start using one all-encompassing terrorist group? Oh sure, it means you could never totally kill them off, but audiences might buy that all these stories are tied together. Or you could have background characters appear in multiple movies to get people watching (it worked for Phil Coulson, didn’t it?). Having more continuity between films only increases the film series’ profits in the long run. So is there anything else that The Avengers did to change the film industry?
Well it proved to Marvel that they can really make a movie out of anything and make money. If this film hadn’t been the success that it had been, we probably wouldn’t have gotten any Guardians of the Galaxy. We probably wouldn’t have gotten Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D either, but I’ll get back to that in a few weeks. Finally we probably wouldn’t have gotten the new Netflix line-up that I’m hearing a lot about but have no idea when or how I can watch it. So much of Marvel’s future lay on the success of this one movie and, with it, they can now change the film industry even more in the future.
So there you have it. A brief look at how much Marvel’s The Avengers changed the film industry. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.