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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The War of the MCUs

http://cdn.screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/Marvel-Characters-Movie-Studio-Ownership.jpg
I love this info graphic from the geek twins

Marvel as a studio has gained great recognition for how it has grown its cinematic universe. By interconnecting its movies and having them effect each other they pioneered a new way of telling stories. Through the interconnected universe Marvel movies seem to help each other, grow each other, and the brand itself is like a launch pad.  Even previously unknown Marvel characters can find massive success on the silver screen.

Marvel's success has not gone unnoticed.  Longtime rivals of Marvel in the print world DC Comics plans to create its own interconnected cinema universe.

What perhaps is more interesting is the reaction from SONY and FOX who both retain their own Marvel franchises.   The Studios are eyeballing ways of making the most of their franchises and one of the best ways to that is to mimic the Marvel Universe.

Fox is eyeballing ways of uniting all of its X franchises as well as uniting them with the Fantastic 4 for a mini Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sony is trying to figure out how to do the same with its Spider-Man licenses.  While Spider-Man is the most popular Marvel character left by himself he is worth much less.

While there is nothing set yet, both studios could unite and bring the Spider-Man Film Verse together with the Fox properties.  While this universe would have far less characters than those owned by Marvel, it would still be very significant.  Traditionally, the 3 most popular characters at Marvel were Spider-Man, Wolverine and the Hulk.  This universe would thus include 2 of the top 3 characters.   Spider-Man and X-Men (In its various guises) are typically at the top of the sales charts for Marvel month over month. 

On the hand Marvel seems to want nothing more their attempts to fail.  It was recently announced that Marvel would ending the Fantastic 4 comics, 2 months prior to the release of the upcoming Fox film.  X-Men merchandise also seemed absent from the toy shelves during the recent release of X-Men Days of Future Past.

How did Marvel find itself in this cumbersome position of having to fight its properties?

1996 Marvel Goes Bankrupt
In the late 90s Marvel found itself in dire financial straights and one of the ways it was able to escape was by licensing out movie rights.  The Spider-Man and X-Men movies produced by the studios at the time were the most successful Comic Book Movies to date.  Marvel did not have the ability to fund its own studio.

2008
2008 over a decade since going bankrupt Marvel has finally begun to piece meal a studio together.  There first film done jointly with Universal was the Incredible Hulk.  It did alright at the box office but was hardly the smashing success that Marvel was hoping for.

Marvel's big studio break came later in the year with smash success of Ironman.  Ironman hidden after credit scene where Nick Fury shows up ignited the connected Universe frenzy that has allowed the studio to dominate until this day.


Today
Today Marvel has been Uber successful but with a new DC universe coming out Marvel needs to find a way to get its old licenses back.

The worst case scenario is for Sony/Fox to unite and create their own united Universe.  This Universe could with the huge characters included (Spider-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, Silver Surfer, Fantastic 4) create a new and massive competitor to their universe. 

It should also be noted that the Fantastic Four license of Fox includes some very important alien races like the Skrulls and the Badoon who have been featured in countless cosmic stories.  As Marvel tries to expand its cosmic Universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy they run into a natural road block by not controlling these races.

What should Marvel do?

When DC is close to launching their universe I think Marvel is in a dangerous position of losing market share if they do not find a way of bringing together their major characters together.  Having 3 or two Marvel universe is also much more complicated and confusing to consumers, than a single shared universe.  If they must battle their own properties it is almost like a civil war where in the end Marvel's intellectual property loses value.

Marvel's options as I see them:
1) Hope that Fox/Sony forays with the Marvel characters fail.  Then they can snatch them up.
2) Buy the licenses back at massive cost.
3) Work with SONY / Fox to create a fully interconnected universe across the 3 studios.

What do you think Marvel should do?
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