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Old 08-13-2019, 09:20 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
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So why has this particular period of superhero movies been so profitable. Is anything different


There have been superhero movies, tv shows and comic books for years and years. But it seems like now it has become very profitable, at least for some of them.

Granted there are the batman series as well that go back, the 80s superman movies, etc. But I remember watching a movie about captain america when I was younger and it was campy. I know there have already been movies about the incredible hulk, fantastic 4, iron man, etc before the current incarnation as well as endless TV shows.

Did anyone figure out why they've become so profitable this decade? Is it because the audience is made up of people in their 30s and 40s who read these comics as kids?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:26 PM
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Well, they stopped being campy, for one thing.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:28 PM
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I think you can give a lot of credit to CGI, which has presumably cut down on the cost of special effects while also making the result look more realistic.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:30 PM
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Well, they stopped being campy, for one thing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYaCS4BLhr8&t=0m41s
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:31 PM
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Better writing, casting, marketing. Effects are better and cheaper. And there’s better penetration into the international market, so the investment is less risky. Plus maybe a little bit of technology in general being more popular, and multiculturalism.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:31 PM
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Also, they entered into the MCU with a plan to make a pile of movies, and signed actors to multiple-movie contracts, so all the parts of the organization had a vested interest in making sure everything worked, from the writing to the casting, directing, special effects, continuity... That's also why the LOTR movies worked out so well. They were really one, big, 12-hour movie. The Avengers saga is like one big 24-hour movie.

Last edited by Ethilrist; 08-13-2019 at 09:32 PM. Reason: I like string
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:50 PM
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One thing that's new is the idea of an interconnected cinematic universe. None of the individual franchises within the Marvel universe has had any more movies that other superhero series: There have been three Thor movies, three Iron Man movies, three Captain America movies, and four Avengers movies... but then again, there were also four Batman movies back in the 90s, and four Superman movies back in the 80s. But even though Batman and Superman are both DC, the Batman and Superman movies didn't connect to each other at all (at most, I think there was a passing reference to "Metropolis" in one of the Batman movies). The Marvel movies, on the other hand, have been full of cameos (or larger parts) by the characters from other franchises, and even more offhand references to the other events of the cinematic universe.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:53 PM
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Way out of my depth here, but is it partly because they invested in A-list actors? ISTR a review about one of the Iron Man movies (I think) remarking that this is a great time for superhero fans who appreciate good acting. Having excellent actors like Robert Downey Jr. in the movies probably helps broaden the appeal from "superhero fans" to "movie fans".
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:17 PM
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I think you can give a lot of credit to CGI, which has presumably cut down on the cost of special effects while also making the result look more realistic.
This is what I was going to say. The stories and characters have been there for decades. Hollywood just had to wait until special effects advanced to the point where they can put realistic looking super-hero action on screen.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:46 PM
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I don't think it's CGI, or connected universe, or A-list actors, only because that's all true of other "universes" that aren't doing nearly as well as the MCU. The most obvious example is the DC universe, but there's also the Dark Universe. That was planned to have all of those things but the entire universe died in childbirth when the first installment (Tom Cruise's The Mummy) tanked.

I think it's all about writing and direction. The MCU movies have good scripts and good directors, and when it comes right down to it, I think those are the two most important ingredients for making successful movies.

EDIT: I could also be convinced that the success of the MCU could be fully credited to the vision of Kevin Feige.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 08-13-2019 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:49 PM
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Kevin Feige. Or maybe it’s because of Jon Favreau setting the tone for the MCU in the first movie.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:08 PM
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Way out of my depth here, but is it partly because they invested in A-list actors? ISTR a review about one of the Iron Man movies (I think) remarking that this is a great time for superhero fans who appreciate good acting. Having excellent actors like Robert Downey Jr. in the movies probably helps broaden the appeal from "superhero fans" to "movie fans".
...Favreau had to actually fight with the producers to bring Robert Downey Jr on board. Downey was a risky investment at the time even though he had largely cleaned up his act.

I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that the creative people behind the scenes love comic books and love making comic book movies. Kevin Feige loves the playground he gets to play in. He's bringing in directors and actors and writers that "don't hate" the characters and the universe that they are writing about. And since the exit of "Ike" Perlmutter the creative people behind the scenes have been given a much freer hand to be able to bring about their own cinematic vision.

And with Ike gone, Feige has really expanded the vision of who these movies could appeal too. Captain Marvel and Black Panther showed his bosses that you could make movies with women and black protagonists that would make not just reasonable amounts of money, but big-huges truckloads of cash. We've got Shang-Chi, Black Widow and the Eternals coming up, Natalie Portman's Mighty Thor, we've got two female directors in the next slate (compared to zero right up until Captain Marvel), they are making movies that appeal to lots-and-lots of people.

They are telling stories that people want to see, featuring people that look and act like us, being made by creative people who are excited to make them. Who knew that would be a recipe for success?
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:09 PM
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I give Feige a lot of credit. But he's not solely responsible for the current super-hero genre. He didn't make Spider-Man or X-Men or Batman Begins or Kick-Ass or Deadpool or Hellboy.

I think a great super-hero movie needs some credible super-hero action scenes. And up until recently, that wasn't possible. People making a super-hero movie had to work around it.

Now it's possible to make good super-hero action scenes and that makes it possible for people like Feige to make great super-hero movies.

Even people like Zack Snyder who can't make great super-hero movies are now making good super-hero action scenes.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:45 AM
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Ground them in reality enough so that the characters and situations can be taken seriously by audiences. If you treat a comic book movie as just something out of the funny papers then you lose credibility and audiences lose faith.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:59 AM
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I give Feige a lot of credit. But he's not solely responsible for the current super-hero genre. He didn't make Spider-Man or X-Men or Batman Begins or Kick-Ass or Deadpool or Hellboy.
Well, Hellboy (the Ron Perlman one) flopped, and google serves up countless think-pieces about why Kick-ass and Scott Pilgrim both failed. (You didn't mention Scott Pilgrim, but Kick-ass and its failure to perform is forever linked with Scott Pilgrim.)

Just listing off a handful of superhero movies isn't really compelling anyway, as the same argument could be made decades ago pointing to Christopher Reeves' Superman and Michael Keaton's Batman.

It's pretty clear that while we've had big budget superhero movies with A-list actors for decades, the MCU has put pretty much all other superhero franchises to shame. Kevin Feige has absolutely created something special, something that has no prior analogue in the history of superhero movies.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:23 AM
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I believe there’s at least an element of generational change as well. For many years comic books were seen as a childish interest, and the powers that be treated movies based on the characters as kids movies. As people who’d grown up with them, and still read them, came into positions of influence, they could get these movies made, knowing there was a bigger audience than just kids out there for them.

While the MCU has ramped things up massively, you have to remember the first X-Men movie was released back in 2000 (feel old yet?) and the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man in 2002. Both were Blockbusters. Spider Man in particular raked in $800M. That’s 6 years before Iron Man hit the screens.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:58 AM
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It has little to do with the quality of the movies themselves (not that they aren't good) and mostly to do with the cost of movie tickets. Given the price, people want to see something on the screen that loses something if seen at home. And that means spectacle. Superhero movies, as currently confirmed, give them plenty of big screen action, enough so that audiences will pay to see them in theaters.

As a side effect, action scenes don't need translation, so they do well in non-English-speaking countries.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:15 AM
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It has little to do with the quality of the movies themselves (not that they aren't good) and mostly to do with the cost of movie tickets. Given the price, people want to see something on the screen that loses something if seen at home. And that means spectacle. Superhero movies, as currently confirmed, give them plenty of big screen action, enough so that audiences will pay to see them in theaters.

As a side effect, action scenes don't need translation, so they do well in non-English-speaking countries.
To further bolster this argument, consider the Fast and Furious franchise.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:23 AM
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There are things that you Just Can't Show Batman and Superman doing. Warner Brothers can't show their beloved icons behaving badly. Iron Man, being a little farther below the public's radar, can snort coke off a hooker's ass and it only reinforces what makes him appealing. The only Marvel character as iconic as the DC big three is Captain America, and I don't think his movies do quite as well at the box office as Thor and Iron Man's.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:26 AM
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Well, Hellboy (the Ron Perlman one) flopped,
Neither of the Perlman films "flopped", even by Hollywood accounting standards.. They weren't blockbusters, but that's not the same thing at all.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:46 AM
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A further point about prices: Because of the expense, people are not willing to take a chance on the unknown. Superheroes are a known quantity: you know they'll face a dangerous threat to create mass destruction leading to a massive battle scene (usually with a direct fight between heroes and the Big Bad). As a known quantity, people will go to see it.

The same applies to remakes and sequels. People know what they're getting, so if the movie is even slightly entertaining, they'll be happy to see it in a theater.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:55 AM
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Surely, Spider-Man is at least as iconic as Captain America?

But to say that the Marvel movies are successful because of A-list actors is to put the cart before the horse. Sure, Robert Downey Jr. and the three Chrises and Scarlett Johansson are A-list actors now. But at the time their first Marvel movies were made, very few people knew the Chrises, and Downey was regarded as a has-been, and Johansson was just showing up on people's radars. They're A-list because the Marvel movies were good, not the other way around. Or to look at the other side, while the DC movies aren't doing as well overall, everyone agrees that the best performance in them is Gal Gadot, and nobody at all had ever heard of her before she started playing Wonder Woman.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:58 AM
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Neither of the Perlman films "flopped", even by Hollywood accounting standards.. They weren't blockbusters, but that's not the same thing at all.
Neither of them earned back their production budget with their domestic gross: The first earned $60 million domestic on a $66 million budget, and the second earned $75 million domestic on an $85 million budget. That's flop city.

The new one with the sheriff from Stranger Things was a MASSIVE flop, earning $22 million domestic on a $50 million budget.

I'll grant you the first two were not MASSIVE flops, but they were not successful. The most compelling evidence to that effect was that both Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman were interested in making the third movie, but the backers went another way because the first two films weren't successful.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:09 AM
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But to say that the Marvel movies are successful because of A-list actors is to put the cart before the horse. Sure, Robert Downey Jr. and the three Chrises and Scarlett Johansson are A-list actors now. But at the time their first Marvel movies were made, very few people knew the Chrises, and Downey was regarded as a has-been, and Johansson was just showing up on people's radars. They're A-list because the Marvel movies were good, not the other way around. Or to look at the other side, while the DC movies aren't doing as well overall, everyone agrees that the best performance in them is Gal Gadot, and nobody at all had ever heard of her before she started playing Wonder Woman.
Scarlett Johansson was solidly A-list before she joined the MCU, but otherwise, agreed. I guess maybe Samuel L. Jackson was also A-list? Even then, he was more of a secondary character tying everything together than a star of any particular MCU movie.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:58 AM
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Neither of them earned back their production budget with their domestic gross: The first earned $60 million domestic on a $66 million budget, and the second earned $75 million domestic on an $85 million budget. That's flop city.
US domestic take hasn't been the be-all and end-all of floppitude for years now. I can't find anyone online calling the first film a flop.

Real flops don't get sequels (unless Uwe Boll is involved, but that's a special case)
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:21 AM
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Through the years, comic book companies managed to acquire a couple of tricks to increase sales: the cross-over, for starters, when two characters teamed up (or more probably, fought each other) and the big multi-issue events that affected almost every series and helped sell the idea of a shared continuity.
Marvel, or better said, Kevin Feige, managed to apply said tricks to the big screen. And did so with an iron hand. He even fired directors who weren't willing to toe the line. Then Warner made a half-hearted directionless attempt at it, and it wasn't a complete disaster, but it was a more half-baked attempt at building the brand, and failed.

Add to that the concpet of the Death of the Big Movie Star. In the 20th century people went to see movies based on who the actors were, with occasionally the big draw being the director. You weren't going to pick an unknown Aussie actor and have him lead your big budget blockbuster, so "Marvel-style" contracts with actors signing for 10 movies, not being allowed to take other big projects or meaningfully alter their appearance for more than a decade weren't possible until recently.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:42 AM
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Marvel somehow managed to take 2 dimensional characters from the comics and turn them into real people...and I mean that literally and figuratively. Add in some quality acting, witty dialog, excellent CGI, and a plot most folks can get behind and you have a recipe for success.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:48 AM
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It’s not CGI that’s the big change. Sure, you could never have done Endgame without it, but you can do a good Captain America story just using practical effects. There’s not much in First Avenger or Winter Soldier that couldn’t have been done without CGI.

The reason the comic book movies got good now, is that comics got good in the 80s. The kids who were reading comics in the 60s grew up to make campy movie versions of the campy comics they remembered from childhood. The kids who read comics in the 80s and 90s grew up to make the MCU. This was the era where comics really started to get into long-form storytelling, with stories that lasted across multiple issues. They were being written towards an older audience and including more adult themes. These were stories that could adapted almost as-is, instead of having to cobble together a two-hour plot from an endless collection of six page stories.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:49 AM
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The MCU is the filmic equivalent of McDonald's, people know more or less what they're getting and they like that. Even "outliers" like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor Ragnarok feel like part of the house "style."

And no way is Captain America more well-known than Spider-Man (or even Venom), Wolverine and the Fantastic Four. There's a reason all of them were snatched up by competing studios well before MCU hit mainstream.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:01 AM
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And no way is Captain America more well-known than Spider-Man (or even Venom), Wolverine and the Fantastic Four.
Spider-Man is almost certainly better known but I feel like, growing up, I saw a fair amount of Captain America in free promotional comics and posters about bus safety, oral hygiene and what to do in case of fire. He had the wholesome nature to explain to us kids how to properly wear rollerskates that you didn't get from a claw-wielding maniac or "evil Spider-Man".
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:03 AM
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There have been superhero movies, tv shows and comic books for years and years. But it seems like now it has become very profitable, at least for some of them.

Granted there are the batman series as well that go back, the 80s superman movies, etc. But I remember watching a movie about captain america when I was younger and it was campy. I know there have already been movies about the incredible hulk, fantastic 4, iron man, etc before the current incarnation as well as endless TV shows.

Did anyone figure out why they've become so profitable this decade? Is it because the audience is made up of people in their 30s and 40s who read these comics as kids?
Actually, some of us comic book fans are in our 50's now.

I think there are a number of factors at work, and you can't attribute just one to the success/failure of movies

1) CGI - there's no question effects have gotten better. While you can still have a superhero flop with great effects - this iconic clip that ends with Superman being shot in the eyeball is awesome, fantastic, spectacular.... and not enough to carry an entire movie. But effects of this caliber really do add to the movie experience and are required to really do most "comic book" style stories. Practical effects are still required (in fact, most CGI scenes also incorporate practical effects) but CGI allows things that are simply impossible in live action films otherwise.

2) Good writing. Marvel has decades of storylines to work with, and decades of fan commentary on what did and did not work. They clearly have hired some really good writers/editors to distill these down into movie scripts, including knowing when to stay true to the source material and when to deviate because of the nature of the live-action motion picture medium.

3) Accessible writing. There are a truly awesome number of "Easter eggs", in-jokes, and references in every Marvel movie (I've been a fan since the early 70's and I don't get them all, there are that many) BUT - and this is hugely important - you don't have to know any of that stuff to follow the storyline and enjoy the movie. You don't actually have to see the movies (aside from Endgame) in any particular order to follow the story. I know this because I have taken people who are NOT fans and who have seen only one or two or even none of these movies to see just one and they've had a good time. Just want to see Thor movies? Go ahead - you don't have to watch any of the others to enjoy them. Rinse and repeat for the rest of them (other than Endgame, and even that seems to be accessible to a crapload of casual watchers). You can jump in almost anywhere and get your bearings, enjoying the story happening on the screen at that moment in time.

4) Good actors. Not necessarily big stars at the time they were hired (though some were), although some of them are riding the Marvel movies to a bigger and better career, but people who can actually act the part and make us believe in unbelievable situations.

5) Focus on the story. By this I mean they're interested in telling the story and thus will change certain details to do that better, or not worry about details that aren't as important. This means, at times, unusual casting choices - it turns out Heimdall's skin color isn't as important as Idris Elba's ability to make us believe in Heimdall as a character. You see this even more in the Netflix Marvel series where secondary characters undergo race/ethnicity changes. Costumes don't look the same on the big screen as in the comic books because what looks OK on paper looks ridiculous in real life, so costumes are altered, or maybe just aren't as important or as emphasized. Are Spiderman's web-shooters a mechanical device he straps on or a biological alteration? I'm not sure that matters as much as the fact he has web-shooters and how he uses them.

6) A good balance between drama and comedy. One of the problems the DC franchise has had is how dark, dark, grimdark it all became. That's partly because of the focus on Batman, who tends that way to begin with, but it even crept into the Superman movies. To some extent, this is a literal truth - dark scenery, dark scenes, dark costumes, dark tones.... Wonder Woman has some flaws, but I think one of the reasons it did well was because some of the pervading darkness was relieved: you had many scenes brilliantly lit, people wore colors other than just black, there was a bit of humor here and there... The Marvel movies certainly have their darkness, but every movie also has a decent dose of comedy to relieve some of the tension.

Now, all of the above is a dance between too much and too little. Clearly, you had some very good, insightful people at the helm of the overall MCU. While Stan Lee probably had less direct effect than some think, he was in the comic book/superhero business for something like 70 years AND was quite successful at it, I can't help but think some of what led to the Marvel comic book empire success also helped with the MCU success. That's a LOT of institutional knowledge in one head. The fact that Lee was not entirely in control was also a very good thing - people like Kevin Feige were allowed to make some changes that improved the overall MCU from what it might otherwise have been.

There have been plenty of past flops in Marvel history, and a bunch of movies that while successful were not the massive blockbusters of the MCU (Fantastic Four iterations, X-men, etc.) I think Marvel learned a lot from those prior efforts and were able to put those lessons to good use in the MCU so characters like Iron Man and Thor and Doctor Strange were brought into the mainstream without the baggage of prior failed attempts (or even somewhat successful attempts) haunting them.

I don't think its impossible for DC to replicate some of this - their TV offerings, in many ways, have done so. I think Arrow got too dark for its own good, and the earlier Smallville concentrated a bit too much on melodrama, but the Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow also balance light/dark, drama/humor, and incorporate decent effects, decent writing, and decent acting for a better result than some prior DC movie attempts.

It's not limited to just DC and Marvel - last night I saw Hobbs and Shaw, which is part of the Fast and Furious universe. I have never seen even one of the other FFU movies, but I was able to follow the story/plot, enjoy the humor, get involved with the drama, and I certainly enjoyed the special effects/fight scenes despite the many many MANY violations of the laws of physics. I didn't need to see the other movies (although it was clear there were many references to them and perhaps seeing them would have added to the enjoyment). It's clear why there have been so many installments in that franchise. You could say the same about the Terminator franchise, although I think deteriorating writing/plotting quality and a bit too much grimdark made it less financially successful long term.

So, while currently the MCU seems at the top of the game there are other people doing equally good work, for much the same reasons.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:08 AM
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I think there's been a groundswell in acceptance of "geek" culture in the past 10 years or so, in that stuff that was considered seriously geeky and worthy of derision back in the 80s/90s is now mainstream, including comics, science fiction, animation, etc...

So while we've had successful big-budget superhero movies with well-known actors and directors for a long time now- the various Batman franchises (Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney, Bale) come to mind, as do the earlier Superman films and the early 2000s Spiderman films, what we haven't had was a public that was willing to branch out beyond the "big 3" (Batman, Superman, Spiderman) and be willing to embrace second-tier superheroes like Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and Captain America. Those films paved the way for even more exploration of the MCU and some really obscure superheroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and some of the other Avengers like Hawkeye.

I'm pretty convinced that this isn't due to some sort of cinematic legerdemain on the part of the MCU directors and producers, but rather that circumstances among the movie-going public have changed such that a Thor movie would actually be successful.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:11 AM
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They are successful because when the characters shoot guns, they never have to reload.

Actually, I think it is because the movies are written intelligently. Aside from the (far too many) inaccuracies and logic gaps, all in all they are well written movies, that stand up to repeated viewing. The characters behave like real people would.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 08-14-2019 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Horatio Hellpop View Post
The only Marvel character as iconic as the DC big three is Captain America, and I don't think his movies do quite as well at the box office as Thor and Iron Man's.
Captain America: Civil War outperformed every Thor movie, and Iron Man film except the 3rd one. Winter Soldier outperformed ever Thor movie except Ragnarok.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:14 AM
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Marvel somehow managed to take 2 dimensional characters from the comics and turn them into real people...and I mean that literally and figuratively. Add in some quality acting, witty dialog, excellent CGI, and a plot most folks can get behind and you have a recipe for success.
Marvel took 2D comic characters from the 50's and 60's and in the 70's and 80's evolved them into much more interesting and 3D characters in the comics themselves. They started exploring "serious" topics - as an example the Iron Man storyline "Demon in the Bottle" dealt with Tony Stark going full alcoholic, hitting rock bottom, and having to dry out. That's not such a big deal plot today, but at the time it was quite controversial, the "comics code" approval stamp was pulled from those issues, and so forth. DC, meanwhile, still largely ignored more human relationships/issues its heros had and had them fighting ridiculous, clown-costumed villains. Marvel heroes got to be more interesting, they had flaws, they struggled with mundane stuff like the rest of us even as they flew or punched through walls or whatever.

One reason I think both Lois and Clark and Smallville succeeded (yes, I know, TV rather than movies, but bear with me) was because they fleshed out Clark Kent and made him more than a physical god in long underwear and a cape. They were very different treatments of the same character (and let's face it, one of them definitely veered into "camp" territory) but there was some interesting dimension to the character

One reason I think the most recent Fantastic Four movie crashed and burned was because the characters weren't well written, had ridiculous or absent interactions, and in the end weren't 3D people you cared about.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:23 AM
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Spider-Man is almost certainly better known but I feel like, growing up, I saw a fair amount of Captain America in free promotional comics and posters about bus safety, oral hygiene and what to do in case of fire. He had the wholesome nature to explain to us kids how to properly wear rollerskates that you didn't get from a claw-wielding maniac or "evil Spider-Man".
I never got any of that stuff growing up. I didn't even know that Major Glory was even a parody (same for Valhallen) until I was nearly an adult. Heck, most of Hanna-Barbera's bespoke superheroes were better known to me than Captain America.

I don't even recall a Captain America cameo in the various Spider-Man, FF and X-Men cartoons.

Also, "Wolverine Publicity," bub.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Marvel took 2D comic characters from the 50's and 60's and in the 70's and 80's evolved them into much more interesting and 3D characters in the comics themselves. They started exploring "serious" topics - as an example the Iron Man storyline "Demon in the Bottle" dealt with Tony Stark going full alcoholic, hitting rock bottom, and having to dry out. That's not such a big deal plot today, but at the time it was quite controversial, the "comics code" approval stamp was pulled from those issues, and so forth.
“Demon in a Bottle” was published with a CCA stamp. You’re confusing it with the run in Spider-Man that depicted a friend of Peter’s dealing with heroin addiction, which was published eight years earlier. By the time the Iron Man story had come out, the CCA had already been amended to allow depictions of drug abuse if it was presented negatively.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:34 AM
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Ah, right - my bad. Carry on.

(In my defense those WERE published what, 40 years ago? My memory became hazy.)
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:44 AM
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I've also noticed that of the people who say they're not interested in all the superhero movies right now, a lot of them say that it's because in the end, they all just get resolved by one big punch-fest. But part of what's made Marvel successful is that they don't just do that. The first Guardians of the Galaxy ended with the main character challenging the villain to a dance-off, and then channeling The Power of Love. Captain America: Civil War was resolved when Black Panther chose to not punch anyone, even though he had good reason to. Both Doctor Strange and Thor: Ragnarok had the main characters figuring out how to win by losing very thoroughly. Sure, there are still punch-fests, but that's not all there is.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:02 PM
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A big part of their staying power is that they have moved away from being just "superhero movies" they are world war movies, heist movies, space adventures, spy thrillers, buddy cop movies, highschool drama, 90's retro etc. Next phase they are even moving into horror. The movies star super heroes, but they are as varied as can be.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:21 PM
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...
Even people like Zack Snyder who can't make great super-hero movies are now making good super-hero action scenes.
I think a lot of the credit should also go to the Hong Kong action cinema revolution of the late 80s / early 90s. Even without CGI, fantastic kung-fu and gun-fu superhuman action scenes could now be credibly choreographed and performed in a fluid 'realistic' presentation instead of relying on old unrealistic Shaw Brothers style tropes (e.g. punch, pause, punch, pause, react, punch, pause). Cites like Yuen Woping or John Woo. The doors for Hollywood burst open when The Matrix repackaged this new style for the western market.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:33 PM
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Surely, Spider-Man is at least as iconic as Captain America?

But to say that the Marvel movies are successful because of A-list actors is to put the cart before the horse. Sure, Robert Downey Jr. and the three Chrises and Scarlett Johansson are A-list actors now. But at the time their first Marvel movies were made, very few people knew the Chrises, and Downey was regarded as a has-been, and Johansson was just showing up on people's radars. They're A-list because the Marvel movies were good, not the other way around. Or to look at the other side, while the DC movies aren't doing as well overall, everyone agrees that the best performance in them is Gal Gadot, and nobody at all had ever heard of her before she started playing Wonder Woman.
The very first MCU movie features one of the finest actors alive today, Jeff Bridges. The next one employs two more in Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell....yesss...I know they are horribly wasted, but the sentiment to get the best was there!


Also I think 'has-been' is a teeny bit much. Downey had just made Zodiac after all. That film where he, Mysterio, Stryker and Banner unsuccessfully solve the Zodiac murders.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:41 PM
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Also I think 'has-been' is a teeny bit much. Downey had just made Zodiac after all.
I agree that "has-been" isn't exactly the right description of Downey in 2008, before Iron Man. He had earned a reputation as being unreliable, due to his history of substance abuse. Although he was apparently clean in the years leading up to the first Iron Man film, and was receiving some notice for his parts in movies like Zodiac and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I think Downey was still seen as a poster child for wasted potential before he became Tony Stark.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
I agree that "has-been" isn't exactly the right description of Downey in 2008, before Iron Man. He had earned a reputation as being unreliable, due to his history of substance abuse. Although he was apparently clean in the years leading up to the first Iron Man film, and was receiving some notice for his parts in movies like Zodiac and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I think Downey was still seen as a poster child for wasted potential before he became Tony Stark.
Ha - I remember my roommate at the time complaining about the casting of Downey. He wasn't all that familiar with Stark's character, and my roommate said something like, "why would they cast this brooding drug addict to be a superhero?". Once I told him a little bit about Tony Stark, it suddenly made sense to him.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:27 PM
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Ha - I remember my roommate at the time complaining about the casting of Downey. He wasn't all that familiar with Stark's character, and my roommate said something like, "why would they cast this brooding drug addict to be a superhero?". Once I told him a little bit about Tony Stark, it suddenly made sense to him.
Exactly! When they announced that they'd cast Downey as Stark, I thought it was absolutely brilliant casting, *if* he was able to stay sober and out of trouble long enough to finish filming.

Which is, I think, part of why the MCU movies have done so well (and as has been already mentioned) -- I think that they have done a tremendous job with casting the roles, and finding actors who have really inhabited the roles and made the characters their own.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:43 PM
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Is it because the audience is made up of people in their 30s and 40s who read these comics as kids? 1
I don't think anyone answered your question here directly. If I had to take a stab at it, I'd say no. First, the audience for SH films is all ages. Second, the increase in interest in SH films hasn't been matched by an increase in the actual comic books, as near as I can tell.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:57 PM
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I think a better question is, why did the execs back in the day figure out that superhero movies could be wildly successful? Superman (1978) was a huge hit, but no one thought to follow it up with a Batman or Wonder Woman movie. Instead they just kept making more Superman movies, each one doing worse than the one before it. Same thing with Batman (1989). Huge hit, but they didn't bother to make a non-Batman movie until 1997 (Steel).
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:54 PM
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I think a better question is, why did the execs back in the day figure out that superhero movies could be wildly successful? Superman (1978) was a huge hit, but no one thought to follow it up with a Batman or Wonder Woman movie. Instead they just kept making more Superman movies, each one doing worse than the one before it. Same thing with Batman (1989). Huge hit, but they didn't bother to make a non-Batman movie until 1997 (Steel).
Superman was great in many ways, but it is obvious now that the studio had no idea what to do. They fired Dick Donner and brought in a totally incompetent director to replace him. Superman 2 slid by on Donner's contributions(some of which were duplicated without him). However, the 3rd one was a total disaster due to the idea that it should be "funny". The 4th one was sold-off and made by another company.

What helped with the marvel movies is that they:

- Made an excellent first movie. I re-watched Iron Man recently and forgot how good it is. (they.....almost ruined Iron Man 2....yikes)

- Planned out in advance having all the heroes meet up in Avengers

- Hired Joss Whedon to make Avengers. A hugely important and correct decision.

- Gradually rolled out new heroes after Avengers, including the amazing Guardians movie and a few other good ones as well.

- they course corrected. Captain America 2 and 3, Thor 2 and 3, and Iron Man 3 all course correct errors with the previous movies. Yes, I like Thor 2 more than Thor 1.

- struck gold by getting the Russo brothers who actually turned out to be brilliant directors in this area

- casting, casting, casting. Almost every single hero is correct cast. I would not replace anyone except maybe Hawkeye and Falcon, who are played by "generic dudes" in my opinion.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Mahaloth View Post
- Made an excellent first movie.
Incorrect, Iron Man was not the first MCU film. That distinction belongs to the second Incredible Hulk film (and even then that particular film vaguely implies the first one sorta maybe counts).

Which figures, as Hulk was Marvel Studios biggest name they still had film rights for. No doubt the live action TV show played a major part in cementing Hulk in pop culture consciousness.

People tend not to realize that pre-MCU, Iron Man was B-tier Marvel at best.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:19 PM
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Trancephalic:

Quote:
Incorrect, Iron Man was not the first MCU film. That distinction belongs to the second Incredible Hulk film
Iron Man: opened May 2, 2008
Incredible Hulk: opened June 15, 2008

sourceL IMDB
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