I’m not sure if I still have a good buzz going from last weekend’s C4 (that’s Central Canada Comic Con for you non-geeks), but I can’t be the only one who is excited that Thor: The Dark World opens tonight! The latest live-action movie from Marvel Studios sees Thor “fight to restore order across the cosmos… but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.” Also, puny god Loki is in the movie. Yay!
The past few years have certainly been good to Marvel Studios. As comic writer and all-around genius Gail Simone (@GailSimone) tweeted this morning, “Marvel has made almost zero missteps in their live action stuff, they’ve been nothing short of brilliant.” I have to agree – Marvel Studios has definitely accomplished something rarely seen; they’ve built a shared cinematic universe with a series of interconnected films beginning with 2008′s Iron Man and big screen team-ups like 2012’s The Avengers.
When the comic book movie craze was starting out in the 1990’s, Marvel had licensed its characters out to various studios. Blind vigilante Daredevil fought crime in Hell’s Kitchen but was stationed at Fox; The Hulk was detained at Universal; and Spider-Man swung through New York City but always came back to Sony. After the success of the three Spider-Man movies, Marvel started to develop the characters that it still retained the rights to (second-stringers like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor), in house. This is when things really started to take off.
There are a large number of good decisions behind Marvel Studios’ success. IMHO, their best decision was to bring the right directors and actors to the project. These people weren’t picked for their A-status, but because they turned out to be real fans who really understand the characters. Best decision number 2? Marvel Studios made sure that they had a plan. That’s how Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger were all able to connect into The Avengers, which then connects to Iron Man 3, and will continue to connect to Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series!
Speaking of television, their new Joss Whedon co-created drama, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., got a full-season order at ABC. Yesterday my fellow comic book nerds rejoiced with the landmark announcement that Marvel will develop at least four original series exclusively for Netflix, followed by a miniseries for the streaming service. The series will be focused on Marvel heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, in that order. Will they glut the television market? Only time will tell, but I don’t think so. We’ll continue seeing the flipping images of Marvel’s title sequence for a number of years now.