This week on the podcast, we saw Watson’s morals crumble under the weight of peer pressure. While I am flattered that an article of mine would attract some attention, I was writing about various Geek Icons, all over 60 years of age, who may or may not be around much longer. Seeing as how the conversation turned to who might die next and how much money might be down on that, I was a wee bit dismayed. And I will not be putting a bet down on Betty White. No. I won’t be. The age thing is why Carrie Fisher was left off, by the by.
But good for Watson for holding out for a little over a minute.
Now I’m going to agree with one of his other points.
Cinematic Universes seem to be the latest Hollywood trend. Marvel Films managed to put together a good one, and I know I for one look forward to the next few movies they have on their docket.
But the trend seems to be making movies that are always connected to other movies. Marvel has done a good job with this, but I am less enthused about, well, every other effort. DC seems to be stumbling towards something on the big screen. The small screen expansion that started with Arrow worked out fine, better I feel than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has turned out, but the fits and starts for the Justice League don’t seem to be working out as well thus far. A quality movie could make me eat my own words here, but while I liked Man of Steel, I did find it a bit dour for a Superman film. Superman had to tell us the “S” meant “hope” on Krypton, because the wide-scale destruction he left in Metropolis after fighting Zod there sure didn’t leave me feeling all that hopeful.
But there are other attempts to create universes. Consider:
- There’s a rumored attempt to make a Ghostbusters cinematic universe.
- Valiant Comics may be entering the fray.
- Universal seemed interested in doing this with their classic monsters, starting with Dracula Untold. At least crossovers between characters were not unheard of for these characters back in their heyday.
- Fox wants to do this with the Marvel properties it already has.
- Sony tried something like this with Spider-Man before joining up with Marvel Films to reboot, and doing the universe with just Spidey-related characters is still a possibility.
- Annabelle was an attempt to create a cinematic universe around The Conjuring.
- Star Wars spin-offs are coming.
Cinematic Universes are different from sequels. These are interconnected movies that feature different characters that may have movies that relate to each other.
What made Marvel successful was accessing the full bench, creating different genre forms with each character or team, and letting most movies stand alone for the most part. Yes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has a deep connection to the events of The Avengers, more so than either Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, but Cap’s adventures can be enjoyed as a solo work. Even The Avengers did not require viewers to see all the other movies, as my dad missed both Thor and The Incredible Hulk, movies he didn’t care to see, and he enjoyed the team movie just fine. Each Marvel movie can and does stand alone, and viewers can and will skip movies, but diehard fans can see fun connections between movies that otherwise are little better than Easter Eggs.
Ironically, it is this very over connectedness that hurt Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The show’s big plot twist was entirely dependent on a plot twist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The show dragged for quite some time until that movie came out.
Marvel basically got it right, and while the house style is probably here to stay, we can be assured that movies like Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, and The Inhumans will show more variety in genre and style than any of the other proposed universes listed above. And that’s a good thing.
Not everything has to be a universe. But if you’re going to do it, do it right.