From Underdog to Superhero
2 minute read
Prior to 2008, Marvel Studios was the underdog. Big time. They had just begun producing their own films instead of licensing out their characters to other production studios. To say they were on rocky ground was an understatement. And there was a lot at stake — they had to leverage several characters from their catalog in order to secure a bank loan. So much was riding on their approach to the films. Superheroes like Superman and Batman were highly consumable by audiences, but would they be captivated by lesser-known protagonists like Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and Ant-Man?
The future was uncertain, but Marvel Studios had a strategy. An endgame. And it has worked brilliantly.
Instead of approaching the films as stand-alone heroes with subsequent sequels, Marvel Studios with president Kevin Feige at the helm, planned their films out as a “cinematic universe,” wherein a set of characters from one movie franchise could face off or team up with the protagonists of another.
For the past 11 years, Kevin and team have been working their way through the Infinity Saga storyline, exploring the backstories of relevant characters and intertwining their narratives, all the while peppering each film with pieces of the overall puzzle. “Iron Man” kicked things off in 2008, making way for “Captain America”, “Thor,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and culminating to the latest film in 2019, “Avengers: Endgame.”
That all sounds impressive. And slightly geeky. Have audiences cared about this overarching storyline enough to keep returning to the theater for 23 movies, or did Marvel get stuck in the comic book weeds?
It's clear from the animation that the “cinematic universe” strategy has blessed Marvel Studios with superhuman commercial success. Not one movie in the saga has lost money, even in a time when theaters are struggling to fill seats.
And even the state of Georgia got to play a role in that success, with 8 of the 23 movies being filmed here. Last year alone, the peach state hosted 455 movie and TV productions. In 2016, it was number one in the world for feature film production, many of which were of the Marvel variety.
"Endgame" has already shattered box office records, making $2.19 billion in worldwide ticket sales in the first 11 days. Previously, the fastest a film had ever surpassed the $2 billion mark was 47 days for "Avatar" in 2009.
With courageous leadership and a future-looking growth strategy as their guide, Marvel Studios rose from underdog to superhero. What a marvelous transformation.