Written by John Hussey
Oh boy, yet again it seems like I’m shitting all over a billion-dollar company with my tiny words, confused mind, and my inability to not stop fucking analysing things (seriously, it makes just sitting and enjoying something extremely difficult). You’re probably starting to worry (or perhaps getting annoyed with me). After-all, this is my third article in a row now delving into controversial territories, with me simply ranting and raving about Media companies and how they abuse their fans through either being bastards or crafty-manipulators.
But, rest assured that this third (unofficial) instalment within my annalistic series will not be an aggressive one, and instead more passive, and generally more laid-back as I generally ask whether or not the invention of “the shared-universe” has benefitted Hollywood or sent it into a terrible frenzy in which the plains of California is now a “death match” to see who’s characters merge into each other’s films the most efficiently.
Now of course when Marvel Studios even dared to speak about the idea of a “shared-universe” the rest of Hollywood (and the fandom) couldn’t help but to mock them, and tell them that this idea was ludicrous and would simply never work. Upon viewing the post-credit scene at the end of Iron Man (in which Nick Fury appears before Tony Stark to talk about the “Avengers Initiative”) people began to ponder on whether or not Marvel Studios was crazy enough to go through with their schemes, and of course whether or not it could possibly work.
Roll on the next few years and you begin to see the pieces of the puzzle come together. Iron Man receives a sequel featuring Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Black Widow, we see the merging of the mystical side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the arrival of Thor (which also featured a cameo from Hawkeye), and then Captain America himself joins the party to lead his unite into battle. The most surprising element of all was Universal Studios actually teaming-up with Marvel Studios to produce an Incredible Hulk film. And then the grand occasion happened: The Avengers united and it was fucking glorious.
At that exact moment we as a fandom shat ourselves with excitement and pledged to give Kevin Feige free blowjobs for all of his wonderful work. Hollywood also shat their big girl’s trousers, but not out of excitement and rather fear. The idea they happily mocked over and over again, the idea they were certain was going to bomb so hard that Marvel Studios would be forced to sell everything they owned just to assure they had a toilet to piss in, was now earning Marvel Studios more money then they could even comprehend.
Add in the factor of Disney swooping in and pulling them under their wing and Hollywood was now facing two of the most powerful oppositions within the Media Industry (and when Star Wars got involved, well, let’s just say that Disney practically took over the Media Industry). And things didn’t stop there as Marvel Studios became more confident and bold with their decision making, basically saying “fuck you” to anyone who still dared to say, “that won’t work” or “you’re crazy”.
Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man left many people believing Marvel Studios had finally lost the plot, only to be once again completely shocked by the fact that the films were not only financially successful but universally loved. Things were becoming perfectly clear to Hollywood that some sort of action needed to take place in order to win back over some faith in their audience, and to show them that they could still compete. Like all new filmmaking techniques they quickly become a redundant element because everyone wants to get in on the success, thus trampling it to death through overuse.
Warner Bros. Pictures were the first to try and test the grounds of a “shared-universe” by having the balls to state that, “We can not only make a better shared superhero universe, but we’ll actually accomplish it faster.” They played the catch-up game by having one single solo film (introducing Superman) before having a sequel that tried being a solo Batman film, an introduction to Wonder Woman, a sequel to Man of Steel, and a prequel to Justice League, along with being a general kick-starter for the DC Extended Universe. Obviously, things didn’t go quite according to plan and they’ve staggered ever since trying to pick up the pieces before the executives put them out of their misery.
I guess in many ways this is where the negatives started in terms of the “shared-universe” concept because everyone wanted to do it now and the DC Extended Universe didn’t get the duplication process off to a great start, feeling more of a “wannabe” project that was incredibly rushed and not well thought-out. But of course things wouldn’t stay like that for long upon other studios having a crack at this new revolutionary concept. I guess it also helped that when Godzilla came out (setting up the MonsterVerse) we weren’t witnessing another superhero “shared-universe”, instead, a re-imagining of something that’s already been done before.
Godzilla and King Kong had already had their fair share of crossovers, making me consider the possibility that this isn’t technically a “shared-universe” but rather a cross-over, but the fact that instead of just having a one-off film we’re treated to a series of films with an over-arcing narrative bridging the individual films together, thus building-up to the main event. And so far it’s worked incredibly well, with Godzilla serving as a neat stand-alone introduction for the iconic creature, whilst Kong: Skull Island expands upon the universe with new creatures, new characters, and new settings.
Yes, it can feel like it’s just there for the sake of introducing King Kong in preparation for his fight with Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Kong, as well as not feeling like as straightforward reinterpretation of the iconic creature, but you’re aware of its purpose and it does it very well, establishing the elements it needs to, giving us a fresh take on King Kong, as well as being an action-packed thrill ride that leaves you pumped from start to finish (not to mention excited for the franchises future instalments).
I guess the maddest attempt to date has to go to Universal Studios’ Dark Universe (which will probably change its title if Warner Bros. gets there way, petty bastards) in which sees all the classic Horror icons come together (although I am actually fucking clueless as to how this one will work, are they going to have a team-up, I mean, what the fuck is the intention?). It was originally thought that Dracula Untold was the set-up film but has since been swiftly wiped underneath the carpet (never to be seen again) and now The Mummy  (starring Tom Cruise) will take its place.
This one is definitely the middle-ground specimen as it has the potential like the MonsterVerse but also seems to have the same flaws as the DC Extended Universe. It has a creative premise with having the likes of the Mummy, the Wolf-man, and the fucking Creature from the Black Lagoon, sharing films together. But, on the other-hand, it sets itself up too much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Russell Crowe‘s Jekyll and Hyde filling in as Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury in order to bring everything together.
From what I’ve heard The Mummy  is a mixed-bag. On one hand it tells an entertaining story, but on the other-hand the Mummy herself is overshadowed by both Cruise and the constant exposition of world-building. I guess I’m really unsure about this one because not much is known in terms of its trajectory. All we know is it’s a “shared-universe” filled with Horror icons, with a few casting details, along with the next film in the line-up featuring Bride of Frankenstein (but surely you’d need to introduce Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster first?).
Is it going to be like the MonsterVerse in which we’ll end up with a massive death-match or will they team-up to fight a greater evil like with the DC Extended Universe, in which case either answer just means Dark Universe lacks originality and is just trying to accomplish what has already been done to greater success.
So from these three examples it’s clear that Marvel Studios has created the perfect Media formula to follow but it’s still anyone’s game as to who is fucking capable of creating some kind of opposition (if only they simply took the time to establish their universe instead of rushing the development process in a desperate attempt to catch-up because it simply won’t work). But on the other-hand it’s creating a cluster-fuck in which these different studios have simply found a new means of trying to dick the other over (if slightly failing in the process) in which we have a sea of rushed products trying to be Marvel Studios but are usually unable to grasp what made them successful in the first: time and patience, with a sprinkle of love during the crafting process.
I’m not going to begrudge Marvel Studios because I love what they produce, but at the same time I sort of dislike this new age of experimentation because it just feels like every other studio just wishes they were Marvel Studios. Besides the MonsterVerse we haven’t really got a decent comparison. I mean, I’m not really looking for a rival, just another studio that can grasp the essence of a “shared-universe” and follow through on it (like with the MonsterVerse). I guess I’m still hoping that the DC Extended Universe can turn itself round in order to become its own entity instead of a Marvel Cinematic Universe wannabe.
Did this article serve any real purpose. Fuck knows? I feel like I’m just playing the game of Captain “Fucking” Obvious now with these random ramblings about the Media’s current status and how I view it. It certainly has its ups and downs but at the end of the day it’s a messy system that is there to entertain us (for better or for worse). To conclude this particular question, I think with a little bit more time Hollywood may get it right (I mean, like I kept emphasising, MonsterVerse is currently doing alright for itself and certainly has enough contrast from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be its own monumental experience) or it will keep falling flat on its face before one day realising (after its knocked out all its good teeth and given itself brain-damage) that it’s time to call it a day and finally accept defeat.