Ever since the release of Marvel’s The Avengers, many individuals in Hollywood want to create a cinematic universe of their own. This is not solely limited to Marvel’s rival company DC; there are rumors circulating of the creation of a Tom Clancy cinematic universe. Point being, cinematic universes have become a hot property. By taking a look at Marvel’s playbook, let’s figure out what goes into making a successful cinematic universe.
The first thing that is needed is a series of interconnected stories, either with adaptations of known franchises or a meticulously planned series of original stories with characters that audiences can latch onto and follow. In the case of Marvel and DC, no explanation is needed.
The second thing that’s needed is someone to oversee the creation of said films, much like how comic companies had editors-in-chief. Not only do you want to avoid conflicting events in your universe, you also want to make sure that the films in that universe have a similar feel to them so that it feels like it’s a part of the brand you’re creating.
In the case of Marvel, that person is Kevin Feige, president of production at Marvel Studios.
In the case of DC, the public hopes that the responsibility will fall to Christopher Nolan, even though the filmmaker has gone on record saying that The Dark Knight Rises would be his last superhero film; yet, he stayed on as the producer of Man of Steel.
The third aspect that’s necessary for the creation of a cinematic universe is a character who can start things off, one who can carry a film and lay solid groundwork for expansion and continuation. For Marvel, that character was Iron Man, and for DC, they first attempted this with Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern) but now hope that character will be Superman.
The fourth thing that one needs to successfully create a cinematic universe is a character to link the separate stories together, one that goes from film to film, either as an Easter egg in a teaser scene or as simply a recurring member of the supporting cast. Nick Fury and Agent Coulson were those characters for Marvel, as they began appearing in The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2.
For DC, people speculate that the character that could be used for such a role would be Amanda Waller, a recurring villain/antihero who has been branded in the New 52 as DC’s answer to Marvel’s Nick Fury. She appeared in Green Lantern and is also set to appear in Season 2 of DC’s television series Arrow, as well as being rumored to appear in an upcoming Green Arrow film.
The primary reason for such speculation was that the character played a similar role in the DC animated universe of the 90s and early 2000s, linking Justice League Unlimited to Batman Beyond.
Finally, you need something for the films to lead up to, the culmination of all the plotlines and stories you’ve been releasing to audiences over the years. This is what essentially rewards the viewers for their loyalty to your brand. For Marvel, this was The Avengers. DC is hoping to create the same lightning-in-a-bottle effect by leading up to a Justice League movie, which is rumored to be in the hands of Zack Snyder if Man of Steel proves to be successful. David S. Goyer, writer for Man of Steel, has been confirmed as the screenwriter.
It’s undeniable that many studios will attempt to create their own cinematic universes and branding, especially since the worldwide cinema market has become more lucrative over the years. Whether or not these companies will be successful is another story entirely, as only time and money will tell the story of triumphant success or abject failure.