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NEWSLINE

Business Strategy ‘Marvel’ous

22 consecutive blockbusters in 11 years –
Not just good movie-making, Marvel’s strategy is sheer business masterclass.


HEAD SHOT

  1. Marvel went almost bankrupt in the 90s and sold the rights of most of its star characters to major studios.
  2. The turn around started a year before the first release Iron Man in 2008, when comic book fan Kevin Feige took charge.
  3. The MCU Infinity Saga has grossed over $19 Billion in box office success from 22 films.

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Marvel’s Superhero Arsenal with Somic industry legends Stan Lee and Kevin Feige in the middle. | Credits: Reddit

What the folks at Marvel banked on, and perhaps DC never completely understood, is that Superhero movies make profit, period.

Edging towards bankruptcy two decades ago to producing an unprecedented $19 billion commercial box office success, Marvel has come a long way from being the second fiddle in global comic culture.

What has supposedly finished with Avengers: Endgame – unprecedented 22-film movie saga. A swashbuckling Robert Downey Jr. redefined a B-grade comic book superhero in 2008 to the coolest Iron Man. The Marvel Cinematic Universe flagged off a strategy that will probably become an model for entertainment business strategies in future.

A few great movies, but a collection of blockbusters

The MCU movies, officially known as the ‘Infinity Saga’, is a well-thought out long-term business plan. One which doesn’t just rely on creating cinematic masterclasses, per say, it creates a cinematic experience like no other.

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Having invested over $4.5 billion in the making of the 22 films, Marvel has churned a remarkable almost $20 billion in profits from Box Office around the globe. | Credits: Reddit

Three films under the Infinity Saga series of the MCU rank among the best rated superhero movies of all time on IMDB. (excluding Endgame)

On the contrary, the series claims eight spots among the top ten highest grossing superhero movies of all time. (including Endgame)

With eight movies grossing over a billion dollars, all twenty-two box office hits and billions of supplementary profits merchandise, Marvel hit a jackpot.

In 90s, Marvel gave away rights to almost all of comic book A-list characters including Spiderman and X-Men to other studios. But then came across a Comic Book fan who redefined the art.

Kevin Feige aka Stan Lee of the Superhero Movie era

Feige was made head of production after he impressed Marvel Studios executives with his knowledge of comic books. A year later, Marvel released the first of its 22 consecutive successes.


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Kevin Feige, a comic book fan himself, came to the helm at Marvel Studios in 2007, before starting at a decade long journey of success.

The Infinity Saga is Feige’s own comic masterclass that creates a universe that is such an engaging cinematic experience and such great business viability – that it continued and grew stronger and stronger over a decade, encapsulating audience the world over.

Jonathan Kuntz, a lecturer at the UCLA school of theater, film and TV, had once described Feige to TheWrap:

“Kevin Feige is doing the same thing Stan Lee did for the comic books in the ’60s; he keeps everyone on the same page,”

The model that defied an old Hollywood myth

Historically, movie franchises have been reluctant to go over trilogies. The reasons is audience losing interest in the repetitive nature of characters. But Marvel, with its bagful of superheroes, carefully ensured that the movies retained a certain freshness and also a recall factor for the audience.

Pulling inspiration and sometimes exact lines directly from the comics, Feige & co. put in a conscious effort to not just make movies but create a continuous journey of experience and intrigue for the fans. As Feige has once explained during a conference for ‘Avengers: Infinity Wars’:

“It starts with the comics and us getting to rip pages out, put them on the walls and start to be inspired,”

Unprecedented cinematic journey – from one movie to another

Marvel’s strategy revolves around creating imperfect comic book universes where its characters interact with each other over the film series. The Infinity Saga spread across three phases, each having a flagship Avenger story line complimented by movies presenting the background stories of individual heroes. That set the tone for an ever-growing global fan base which left one movie speculating about the next one.


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Marvel Cinematic Universe delivered 22 movies planned over three phases from 2008 to 2019. | Credits: Reddit

Characters that are human – flawed, complex but righteous

The MCU movies draw their colour from stories written more that 50 years ago when Stan Lee started picking out his protagonists as humans who accidentally find themselves in the business of saving the planet.

Marvel’s characters have their internal struggles, a moral code and more often than not, a funny side. Those characters came together in vibrant collation of universes over decades of cannons. Marvel leveraged those characters, with A-list actors, stunning CGI and hilarious dialogues. This strategy helped Marvel match up to hype created by DC legends like Batman and Superman in mainstream media.

A plan independent of Box Office Fortune

Marvel never sways from the course and film schedule based on box office results. Feige had once said that the box office doesn’t dictate how MCU future films are planned. Launching its superheroes carefully through individual movies, Marvel captured the essence of multiple characters. This justified most of the actors used in the showdown Avengers movies.



The MCU plan has seen box office success unprecedented in the history of entertainment industry. Feige set out to create a Da Vinci-esque masterpiece entertainment product, and he’s unquestionably succeeded.


PARTING SHOT

  1. Three films under the banner rank among the best rated superhero movies of all time on IMDB.
  2. On the contrary, the series claims eight spots among the top ten highest grossing superhero movies of all time.
  3. Kevin Feige had once said that the box office doesn’t dictate how MCU future films are planned.
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