The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a shared universe that is centered on a series of superhero films. Over the years MCU has grown into a billion dollar franchise which toppled the $12 Billion figure this year within a span of just 15 feature-films. The comic-book superheroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, etc. have come to life on the big screen from the thin comic-book pages and have become billion dollar franchises in themselves. It is great to see how a marketing masterstroke such as MCU has descended in the pop-culture and now is a subject matter of speculation, criticism & appreciation on a level that few of us could have imagined.
The concept of a shared universe, where all superheroes can co-exist was developed way back in the Marvel comics of 1960’s. But MCU as we know it, started in the year 2008, with the release of Iron Man, which reinvented the superhero genre, made its actors over-night stars while setting up future films, team-ups & numerous spinoffs. As an aftermath of success of MCU, many studios decided to build their own cinematic universes like DC Extended Universe of WB, X-Men Universe of Fox studios, Dark Universe of Universal studios, etc. many of which have not yielded the same results as that of MCU. The fact to be noted here isthat MCU’s timeline began with notable standalone movies before teaming all the superheroes in The Avengers in 2012. To cash in on the popularity the studios tend to team up its characters without even setting them up initially. The perfect example of the same is the DC Extended Universe which teamed up iconic characters like Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman in its second film itself without exploring the characters in standalone films. As a result of which DC Extended Universe has been met with lukewarm response worldwide. This goes on to prove that the success of MCU is not just a formula which can be replicated to mint money. It is the detailed characters in the MCU movies which makes Marvel so successful and dear to its target audience.
But all the spotlight does create limitations for the MCU as its every conference, every poster & every teaser is source of scrutiny, backlash and whatnot. The added pressure on the MCU is to stay true to its characters & origin stories which have been already published in the form of comics back in the time while being critically & commercially viable for its producers.
In the end I would call MCU - A studio which drunk on its own power. Why? When a studio can make a film with a tree & a talking raccoon and still make it a compelling watch while minting more than $700 million at the box office worldwide, what else would you term it?