The Problem With Cinematic Universe Building

It seems like every movie studio these days with a big franchise is trying to turn that franchise into some sort of interconnected cinematic universe. Universal is trying build a movie universe based off all of their monster properties, Warner Bros is doing it with their giant monsters, DC is creating a universe out of their superheroes and even Star Wars is doing it with their spin off series. 

Marvel showed us that this was not only possible but very profitable as well. So it’s really no surprise that so many studios have begun adopting this tactic with some of their properties. But there are many issues that follow when trying to create a cinematic universe. Anybody remember the Amazing Spider-Man?

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Back when Sony still had hopes and dreams, they were planning a fully fledged cinematic universe based on Spider-Man and his many villains. They wanted to make a Venom movie, a Carnage movie, a Sinister Six movie and another sequel to the Amazing Spider-Man. And it was this “ambition” that caused the downfall of their future cinematic universe, they essentially turned the Amazing-Spiderman 2 into an ad for all the other movies they wanted you to buy tickets for in the future.

Unsurprisingly, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a flop and it would take a deal with Marvel to fix any damage done to the character in the eyes of the public. But Marvel isn’t exactly perfect either when it comes to creating a cinematic universe. Iron Man 2 is another movie people criticised for being too focused on building up other films. Sacrificing story and plot to shoehorn in out of place scenes with Nick Fury and Black Widow. And they even did it again with Avengers Age Of Ultron’s Thor scene that only served to further tease the Infinity Stones.

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No one likes paying money to see a movie only to realise that they have to see another movie to get the full story. It’s the same reason why some got pissed when the only explanation for the opening scene of Age Of Ultron was in Agents Of Shield. The movies need to be mostly stand alone if they want to be enjoyed by the wider movie going audience. A few characters and references to other movies is fine but having parts of the plot be unexplained unless you’ve watched something else is where it goes too far.

The movies also have to be consistent with one another, which I know can be hard with so many different movies and directors but it has to be done if they want their shared universe to actually be shared between all the characters.

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But this also ties into my next point of cinematic universes often being limiting for writers and directors. Since they are tied down by the constraints of the previous films. This is what happened to director Edgar Wright on Ant-Man, where he ended up leaving the project because Marvel wanted a version that fit better into the universe and also tied into the other movies.

Shared and cinematic universes are something that we’re bound to see more of in the future. Will every studio that attempts one succeed? No. But hopefully the few who do succeed go on to create movies just as good or even better than what we’ve already seen from Marvel. And plus, King Kong VS Godzilla sounds awesome.

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