In the past year we’ve experienced firsthand how famous franchises from the Marvel Universe are starting to tell stories that are forming a bigger picture. Franchises like Iron Man, Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy are converging on single super production movies; selling superheroes by the dozen in new “The-Avengers-super-value pack.” However, is the future of this sort of storytelling stable?
With the financial success of movies like “The Avengers” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” comes the whole give-me-more-avengers-super-value-packs. DC is now copying this model and trying to introduce their own Justice League movie. But they are not the only ones. Now that Disney owns Star Wars IP they are trying to create the same serial moviemaking with Star Wars VII, VIII, IX, a Star Wars Rogue One and Star Wars Bobba Fett movie.
All of this is nothing new. You probably already knew this but I want to explore the consequences of this model in the long run. This sort of serial moviemaking involving so many characters and so many interweaving plot-lines can only be compared with their comic book counter parts. This were we can recognize several issues with this model:
Logistics. This is the most obvious and boring one, but the one that might actually destroy the model itself. Imagine that tomorrow, Robert Downey Jr. dies (knock on wood that man is a saint.) What would happen to the entire franchise? The whole franchise is being supported by feeble humans representing quasi-god qualities that are actually, well, human. Maybe I exaggerated with having a dying RDJ but imagine another actor having to replace this puny god along with the same team of actors acting like nothing happened to Tony Stark. Yes they probably do it for the money with small desiderata in small captions saying “In Honor of Robert Downey Junior, why the fuck did you had to ruin this for us.” It would never be the same! Having invested so much money and time into one single actor can be dangerous and obvious. By the way this already happened. From Eric Bana to Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo it’s safe to say that in the first Avengers movie the greatest obstacle to jump was casting the perfect Hulk, and because it’s impossible to create a convincing hulk ( A whole topic that I could easily write another essay), Joss Whedon had to make him the perfect walking talking McGuffin because he was the least developed character.
No surprises. One of the best things a good movie has is its plot twist. Joss Whedon is a master in this department: just watching Buffy the Vampire Slaver and Angel will get you a good idea on what he is able to craft, but one thing is a television series, and a very different one is blockbuster moviemaking. My point is. Blockbuster movies have no surprises in them, or at least they are really hard to accomplish. An example: Let’s say you watch the next “Avengers III Thanos kicks everyone ass Mofos” movie but there is already a “Thor V The Lost Hammer,” guess who is not going to die in Avengers III, yes Thor and probably will lose his hammer in the process. I’m not saying that these plot twists are not accomplishable but they would have to work their super production in better secrecy than the CIA with the entire whole world craving and dissecting every single detail of production.
No self-dependency. Up until this point every single movie has been self-dependent with the writing explaining everything with no dependency on other movies, but this will eventually fade like in the comic book serialism. After a few hundred issues, you need to return and read the beginning to know that Tony Stark “created” The Vision and not Hank Pym. One example of this already exists in the oldest franchise in the superhero cinematic universe, well, not “superhero” better yet “mutant universe” (can’t say mutant in the Marvel universe because Fox has that IP now), “X-men Days of Future Past.” Could you imagine going to the movie theater without knowing what is this wolverine superpower; time travel? Magneto helmet stops Xavier powers? Mystique was Xavier sister? (I didn’t even knew that one) But you have to remember that they started back in 2000, hell my first experience with x-men was the 1992 cartoon, so this is what happens when you need other media to know the entire picture.
At the end of the day they will make it work. Even If RDJ dies or Thor loses its hammer they will deliver. I just hope that after 20 years when RDJ actually dies of old age decide to have a complete CGI RDJ let’s face it, they probably have the technology and not even use real actors.