By Andrew Coulthard (Account Director – Media)
Marvel Studios have just celebrated ten years of their Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the release their most anticipated film yet, Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Bringing together an extensive ensemble of characters from the MCU, Infinity War pits our favourite heroes against Thanos, a villain who first appeared in the end-credit scene of The Avengers (2012).
Who, you may ask? Well, Infinity War gives Thanos more screen time than any other character to answer just that – one could even go so far to say that this is his movie, and not the Avengers’ after all. This surprising narrative focus gets to the heart of what the MCU movies have done so well all along: build character. The majority of Marvel films have focused on one character, or at least a small group (such as in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)), creating a catalogue of diverse characters across genres who appeal to all audiences. This is the secret to Marvel’s (already remarkable) success with Avengers: Infinity War.
No other Hollywood film franchise has so successfully embarked on such a quest, creating a series of movies which are as closely connected through characters, plots, and locations—whether blatantly, or teased through so-called ‘Easter eggs’, especially through the famous post-credit scenes. In fact, Marvel’s use of the post-credit scene to expand its universe by building excitement for upcoming films has created audience expectations for other film franchises to do the same (I’m looking at you, DC).
Marvel isn’t the only comic book franchise to attempt cinematic domination. X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and DC’s Justice League have all recently been competing for the audience dollar. However, Marvel Studio’s ongoing success has made a serious impact. Sony Pictures cut a deal to bring Spiderman back into the fold, and the recent confirmation of Disney’s buy-out of 21st Century Fox assets will likely finally bring the X-Men (a Marvel property) into the MCU.
Avengers: Infinity War smashed records at the 2018 NZ Opening Weekend Box Office. According to Val Morgan, the film took in $3.8 million over opening weekend, setting it on track to become the highest-grossing film of all time. In an age of increasing audience fragmentation, advertising clutter, and ad-skipping across video platforms, these results highlight cinema’s continued position as a high-impact channel, able to deliver brand messaging in an environment of premium content that people have paid to watch. What’s more, with 22 of the top 100 highest grossing films of all time being comic book movies, there’s no doubt that the film industry will be riding the superhero wave to infinity.