The Marvel Cinematic Universe popularly known as MCU is an American media franchise and shared universe of superhero series produced by Marvel Studios. The franchise today is among the leading studios in the world. The superheroes come directly from comic books published by the Marvel comics. Famous for promoting characters like Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor, Marvel studio is a definitive approach of centralizing Marvel Universe of the comics into live-action entertainment. But how did the Universe started? Not many fans know about the making story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Making of Marvel Cinematic Universe
The superhero saga begun with Marvel cinematic Universe- today spans over 23 movies and above 50 major characters. Won around three Oscars, the most fabulous thing about Marvel is – IT HAPPENED. Nothing could be more attractive for any superhero nerd than a newly launched marvel movie. But the heart of success lays in two names – Jack Kurtzberg and Stanley Martin Lieber aka Stan Lee.
The writer nerds by nature, both Lee- Kirby productions gave us memorable characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and X-Men. Jack Kurtzberg alone created characters of DC comic, Harvey Comics, and Timely- Atlas Comics. And with Lee, the marvel comics were created. The Lee–Kirby titles garnered high sales and critical acclaim, but in 1970, feeling he had been treated unfairly, largely in the realm of authorship credit and creators’ rights, Kirby left the company for rival DC.
By 2005, Marvel Entertainment had begun planning to produce its own films independently and distribute them through Paramount Pictures. They recognized that the rights of various characters including Spiderman solely remain to Sony and Fox, the rights of core members of the Avengers remained with them. But still, not many major movies were individually produced by them.
The initial superhero movies released by Marvel were box-office disasters which included Ben Affleck’s Daredevil and Elektra. However, Sony released Spiderman movies were a massive hit and Tobey Maguire’s character become a household name. 1990 released Captain America starring Matt Salinger was in all sense iconic, yet the low-budget film heavily impacted the audience, and the movie flopped. It was when in 1998 ‘Blade’ was released, a high budget film, it performed well at the box office and earned a modest $45 million making the studio understand that more than the character, the audience love the movie.
In 2006, Marvel made its first panel debut at San Diego Comic-Con. However, they did not have any scripts, upcoming movies, no cast, and most importantly no Iron Man. Thus, it was a heck of a lot of a journey waiting ahead of Marvel!
It was in 2007 when 33 years old, Kevin Feige was named studio chief. To preserve its artistic integrity, Marvel Studios formed a creative committee of six people familiar with its comic book lore: Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada, writer Brian Michael Bendis, and Alan Fine. At first, the studio was in the partnership of Walt Disney Studios but now the bigger hand lies with Feige.
Fantastic Four established Marvel and revolutionized comics but still, they didn’t buy much fame as first anticipated. During this phase, the studio also suffered bankruptcy but still managed to recover the losses with the huge risk of launching ‘Iron Man’. The making of Iron Man itself was a challenge for Feige, as casting Downey for the role was not approved by the Paramount Pictures who were to distribute the movie. The initial choice was of course Tom Cruise; however, he never made it to the audition due to prior commitments. Several other actors too auditioned for the role but after much of a debate, the role finally went to Downey. Robert Downey Jr. was born to be Iron Man!
Marking A Marvel Era
In October 2014, Marvel Studios released the names in Phase Three movies. Iron man was the first movie with actor Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role. The film was a major hit that somehow managed to re-establish Marvel back in Hollywood. The film also provided a comeback to the then struggling actor RDJ. And this was just the beginning of the world of superhero chronicle with Marvel assembling its team.
In the beginning, they didn’t plan to integrate the universes but later the movies were released under the same series. Iron man was the first movie released in phase one following Iron Man 2 which is set around the same time as Thor as mentioned by Nick Fury. With these, Captain America- the first avenger, Hulk, and Avengers were released under the same phase. All the movies were block-buster and grossed over millions of dollars.
In phase 2 Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man were released. In order to simplify the in-universe timelines, the phase two movies were released in partially similar timing as that in the universes. In phase three the timeline was exactly the same for the movies as in the universe. Spiderman- far from home, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Ant-man and the Wasp, Thor Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, and Avengers- Endgame was released marking an end to several of the initial characters.
Multiple television series included the “Marvel Heroes” series–Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , Agent Carter, and Inhumans -aired on ABC; the “Marvel Knights” series–Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the crossover miniseries The Defenders, and The Punisher, Runaways and Cloak & Dagger and Helstrom was originally intended to be the start of a planned “Adventure into Fear” franchise.
In December 2017, The Walt Disney Company agreed to acquire assets from 21st Century Fox, including 20th Century Fox. With this, the rights of Deadpool, the X-Men characters, and the Fantastic Four characters were returned to Marvel Studios. X-Men marked Kevin Feige’s first on-screen credit.
Marking the beginning of phase four, Marvel studios series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and ‘What If…?’ are released so far. The scheduled miniseries include Hawkeye, season two of Loki, Iron Heart, Secret Invasion, Armor Wars, Moon night, and She-Hulk including 11 feature films in which ‘Shang Chi- the legends of the ten rings’ being already released. The scheduled feature films aim to include a new range of superheroes in the universe against a huge threat to the universe raised first since we were introduced to the superhero saga.
It is the mystic of marvel movies that the fate of several actors transformed. Today the names of the actors have become a synonym to the characters they played. For instance, whenever we hear Captain America we subconsciously recognize him as Chris Evans. That’s the fervor the Marvel Cinematic Universe had created.
It still has a long way to go with miracles happening every day round.