It is a tale as old as time; a bold new film deemed as a gamble by studio execs releases, the film becomes a huge success and Hollywood, as usual, learns the wrong lessons. Now, on some level, it is kinda hard to fault the studios. Hollywood blockbusters cost millions and it is reasonable for them to expect some kind of return. But there’s a reason most studios don’t have a well-oiled formula. A formula that manages to remain fresh each time like Marvel Studios.
To a certain degree, the Marvel films do feel similar, but it is a problem they have largely avoided with Phase 3. And honestly, the phrase “superhero fatigue” barely qualifies as criticism given its superficial nature. Marvel has time and again experimented with styles and genres within their sub-franchises.
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The Rush To Build Shared Universes (Hollywood)
But few movie studios have managed to truly understand why Marvel’s approach worked so well for them. For one, when Batman v Superman was being trashed left and right, Warner Bros. decided that the movie flopped because it didn’t have humour. As if this wasn’t the same studio that managed to make two gritty Batman films that made over a billion. It’s this reactionary thinking that has doomed these studios.
Deadpool’s release marked a stark change towards R-rated films in Tinseltown. Once considered not-so financially viable, studio execs were now putting a bunch of new films into development with an R-rating in mind. Deadpool was successful because it was true to its character and was engaging from start to finish. That’s not to say that quality films always succeed but it’s a start. Scrambling to build an entire cinematic universe by borrowing successful elements without understanding what makes it successful has rarely ended well.
The Monster Universe, The Amazing Spider-Man films, Zack Snyder’s DCEU, Star Wars have all fallen prey to this line of thinking. Marvel took their time to build their universe, made mistakes and later corrected them. If only the other studios understood this, the future of Hollywood blockbusters would be far brighter.