5 Reasons It's Impossible To Recreate Marvel's Movie Success

You may have noticed that Avengers: Age Of Ultron completely and utterly pile-drived the box office despite the conspicuous absence of such crowd-pleasing Avengers as Doctor Druid, Gilgamesh, and Tony Stark's fabled "NASCAR" armor, which is tattooed with a giant, crude, airbrushed caricature of the Gorton's Fisherman.

And the Marvel Cinematic Universe's oodles of lucre haven't gone unnoticed. In fact, basically every other studio on the damn planet is trying to cobble together their own intertwined universes, ranging from Ghostbusters to Valiant Comics -- whose biggest claim to fame was publishing Turok: Dinosaur Hunter 20 years ago -- to goddamned Robin Hood, because who hasn't dreamed of Friar Tuck: Origins?

Yup, it's unclear if anybody in Hollywood's examining whether or not funding an endless series of interlocking films is quite possibly a disastrous idea, given that ...

#5. We Can Watch Only So Many Movies

comicsalliance.com

Before Iron Man, superhero films were already seven years into gaining the public's goodwill with flicks like Spider-Man, X-Men, and that inexplicably successful Ben Affleck Daredevil movie with playground grappling foreplay. So, when it came time for Marvel to bring us a swank gentlebeard quipping in an exoskeleton, audiences were DTF Y2K.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
"OMG!! *****!1" -My review on LiveJournal

But something seems to be forgotten with the creation of upcoming franchises like Universal Monsters (no, seriously): The Marvel films didn't succeed because of the expanded universe model; they succeeded because they're awesome and everyone loves superhero films. That said, even with the popularity of Batman and X-Men on their side, Warner Bros. and Fox will always play second fiddle to Disney's Avengers because audiences simply don't have the stamina to see that many goddamn movies.

According to the MPAA, your standard schmo sees an average of four theatrical movies per year. And with at least eight major comic book adaptations set for 2017 alone, general audiences will always be choosing one franchise over the other. And let's face it, we all know who the sad loser is in that race. "Sad" being the operative word.

Warner Bros. Pictures
That's not rain; it's tears.

And this isn't even accounting for all the other shambled-together universes lumbering down the pike. Suddenly, the idea of Lucasfilm limiting themselves to only one Star Wars per year makes a ton of sense. Except even Star Wars can last only so long as it expands endlessly like Jabba The Hutt at a Sizzler, because ...

#4. The Bigger The Universe, The More Impossible It Is To Write

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Cinematic universes are like crossword puzzles in that each individual piece has to intersect with another. And as the narrative expands, it becomes harder and harder to make everything fit, until you give up and play Sudoku like a stupid failure.

Joss Whedon described teasing out the structure for the first Avengers as "brutal" because of how many characters he had to cram in. By Age Of Ultron, the number of superpowered people alone jumped from the original seven to 12 characters blasting about the screen like cocaine-powered cats. Whedon called it the hardest work he'd ever done, and the resulting film burst at the seams, like Hulk in the fuchsia Members Only jacket that Bruce Banner wears all the time (to remind himself that he alone must carry his burden).

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Half of those Ultron sentries are getting their own movies.

It might sound soul-crushingly mathematical, but most films out there are structured in the same basic way to make them accessible to audiences. This usually involves three acts with eight different plot points.

The first act sets the plot into motion (see: Loki sliding into our world, Nick Fury assembling the Avengers). The second and largest act establishes each character's struggle and contains the intriguing midpoint followed by the movie's lowest moment (Coulson's death and/or Loki's archaic profanity). Finally, the third act is that final push where the stakes are crazy high and the protagonists resolve their problems (the Avengers overcome their insecurities and, uh, beat Racist Jock Prep in the Southwest Regional Spelling Bee? Come on, Avengers came out in 2012, that was like 10 years ago).

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I remember these three leaving for the dance-off to save the rec center,
but after that it's a little hazy.

This structure can be seen in everything from Disney to David Lynch because of how aptly it avoids pissing off the audience. And in Age Of Ultron, you start to see that structure groan under the weight of all the subplots setting up future Civil and Infinity Wars while simultaneously attempting to tell a complete story arc with 12 main and secondary characters. And now that Captain America: Civil War will apparently have 16 fucking characters, it's impossible to imagine a scenario in which the movie won't continue for the rest of your life and Don Cheadle is your new dad.

And we haven't even begun to talk about the TV shows ...

#3. TV Shows Make Everything Confusing As Hell

Disney-ABC Domestic Television

Age Of Ultron was Joss Whedon's last contractual Marvel film, and he's generally assuming the role of the belligerent ex at Marvel's open bar wedding. Along with venting his franchise fatigue, Whedon recently revealed that Agent Coulson's resurrection on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. pissed off folks on the film side of the universe.

Disney-ABC Domestic Television
"What, so Nick Fury can come back to life like eight times, but I'm not allowed
even one measly resurrection?"

Yes, when it comes to television, we're not dealing with just Marvel anymore; ABC and Netflix are sticking their grubby fingers in the cogs of this money machine. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is apparently constantly fighting the good fight between entertaining an audience and not stepping on the films' toes. The arduous process is a back-and-forth where they pitch ideas to Marvel while trying to ration the amount of superheroes they can introduce.

After all, what good are the Avengers if the TV show is up to its balls in people who can save the day instead? But the real stinger is Netflix's Daredevil, which both recognizes the world of The Avengers films and the harsh mortality of superheroism that Hawkeye and Black Widow are blessed to ignore.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The only mortality they know involves contract lengths.

For comic book fans, this kind of loosey-goosey continuity is commonplace, but the moment studios start dabbling in other genres is when the problem starts becoming laughably noticeable. For DC, the issue is actually the opposite. They have both Gotham and Batman V Superman -- two properties they've had to explain as separate worlds. But of course that's not nearly the biggest problem the Justice League films are facing ...

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