Marvel as a brand has come a long way from the comic book company which began in New York back in 1939. Their combined total takings at the Box Office have now gone past $9,000,000,000, which is phenomenal considering that the first films only went into production in 2007. So what are the reasons behind its success?
I would say there are a few things to consider.
When superhero’s were churned out a dozen at a time, the element of them being superhuman and out of reach led to a perception they were not of this planet and way larger than life. Marvel’s movies inhabit situations, people and places which we are very familiar with. If you have a look at Iron Man, Captain America and The Hulk, you begin to realise something. There’s Tony Stark, a personality very much like billionaire Elon Musk, Steve Rogers, a sickly man who becomes transformed by medical experiments and Bruce Banner, a scientist by day and rather angry green monster at all other times.
Creating these very relatable characters and placing them in familiar settings enables us to feel like we can be a part of these characters lives and are in a way connecting with them on an emotional level. Setting the films on planet earth add to that perception that some of the events happening in the film may very well be happening right now.
Sometimes the worst movies manage to make the most money, while films which are critically acclaimed and praised do not. Think about The Shawshank Redemption: at the time of writing its number one on the IMDB top films yet it was a financial flop. Meanwhile, the second and third Transformers films made about $2,000,000,000 between them and were panned by critics and many fans too. So what was the difference?
It lies in the cast and crew’s ability to deliver those exceptional performances when it matters the most. The Marvel franchise films carefully chose each of their cast members and backed them all the way, making it hard for anyone else to imagine someone else playing the characters. Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark/IronMan, Chris Hemsworth is Thor, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine and Mark Ruffalo is Bruce Banner.
Then there’s the crew. Kevin Feige has kept the continuity by producing every single film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His expertise into what makes a good comic book film has shown and he has brought on some well-known names to direct the three films. These include Jon Favreau, Joe Johnston, Alan Taylor, James Gunn and Peyton Reed. Each of these directors focused all their efforts on developing a film audiences will walk away remembering. Aided by huge crews and a healthy budget, they have succeeded.
But these films would really not be anything without the vast marketing effort to generate the highest level of awareness possible. This has been done through traditional outlets such as pre-movie trailers, on billboards, the back of buses, as Youtube Ads and social media pages. Some of the films of higher recognition are even lucky enough to get their own slot machine. While the list of ways to market may be never ending, Marvel has zeroed in on exactly what works best for them and tweaked the formula only marginally.
As it begins to enter phase three of its film releases, those who love the Marvel world can be assured there will be many more great adventures to come in the near future.