How Marvel Is Getting Comic Book Movies Absolutely Right – Part 4
Welcome to Part 4 of our look at how Marvel is getting comic book cinema absolutely right. By the time the first Iron Man film was released, Marvel already had plans in place for what they would go on to call “Phase One” of their future comic property films. And the journey they had taken to get this point had certainly been full of plenty of high points; but also, they had learned several lessons on how not to make a successful comic book property film. With the failures of several iconic properties such as Daredevil, The Punisher, and The Fantastic Four, Marvel had finally sifted through the failure rubble and found the keys to success. The result was a well-planned, and better executed, cinematic event that would span multiple films and lead to the assembly of the Earth’s mightiest heroes.
Iron Man, & Marvel’s Phase One Films, Take Flight
In 2008, Marvel’s Phase One of cinematic films was born with the release of Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr. With this film’s debut, Marvel announced to the world that they were here to stay and ready to take over every summer box office for the foreseeable future. Iron Man combined everything Marvel had learned about successful comic book film making in the previous decade and unleashed it all upon the masses with the face of Robert Downey, Jr as the billionaire turned public super hero, Tony Stark. The film would go on to gross over half a billion dollars worldwide.
2008’s Iron Man, to this day, is Marvel’s single greatest origin story film, and one of the all around best super hero films ever created. With the perfect casting of Robert Downey, Jr, who was fresh off relaunching his professional career after years of struggling with personal demons, Marvel took over both the summer box office and the world of comic book films alike. Marvel was able to combine spot-on, Hollywood heavyweight casting with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Downey, Jr, film direction from comic book fan-boy Jon Favreau, and fantastic writing and groundbreaking special effects all into a perfect storm of elements that included the promotion of Kevin Feige to President of Marvel Studios. This ultimately produced a film that provided the foundation for Marvel cement it’s legacy in Hollywood and continue to build upon it for years to come: Marvel’s Cinematic Universe Phase One.
And with that, comic book cinema changes forever:
Phase One: Creating A Greater Marvel Legacy
And so with the launch of Iron Man in 2008, Marvel’s Phase One Cinematic Universe was born, and with it, arguably the greatest era of comic book cinema had begun. Marvel was combining everything they had learned from all their previous successes and failures in comic book film, and brought it all together into one great idea: building towards an Avengers film.
This way of progressive thinking was, at that time, unheard of. You had a film company investing too much money and putting way too much at stake over the course of several films, in order to produce the ultimate team up film where all of their marquee heroes would come together and unite to battle their greatest enemy. With Phase One, Marvel set the bar so high for themselves that critics and fans hardly believed they could ever deliver in the end, which was a final outcome that was still years down the road.
But Marvel did deliver; and in doing so, they changed the way that big box office comic book films would forever be made from that point forward. Marvel successfully launched their Phase One plan by combining, again, big name talent to accompany their big name heroes, with teases of what was to come included in scenes during the post-feature credits of every film they now made. Iron Man teased the formation of the Avenger Intitative, and then The Incredible Hulk film again teased the formation of The Avengers team, Iron Man 2 teased the arrival of Thor, and Thor teased the discovery/recovery of the Tessaract artifact, which then led to a Captain America film.
And following the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, a film in which the title itself teased the eventual Avengers film, all the pieces are then in place, and the final post-credits scene for Phase One shows the Captain arriving in the present day, where S.H.I.E.L.D. needs his help to defeat an approaching global threat.
And at the end of Phase One, the Avengers will assemble and take over all the box office records. Come back next week for Part 5 when the highest grossing comic book film of all time is unleashed upon the masses!
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