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On the eve of the release of Avengers: Endgame, there has been a lot of looking back at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Over the last 11 years and 22 movies Marvel Studios has done something nobody has ever done before, bringing the cross-title continuity of comic books onto the silver screen. In addition to simply succeeding in that effort, the movies have been incredibly successful. But how will history judge this incredible accomplishment? The original six Avengers and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige were recently asked that question and they had a lot of feelings on the topic. Jeremy Renner, for one, wonders how the MCU's success could potentially change the industry decades down the road...
I wonder what the ripple effect of it will be in 30 years. 'Look what Feige’s done!' How do you do a series of films? Twenty-two films! How do you do that?
It's very likely that we will see a ripple effect down the line, considering that we largely already have. Following the beginning of the MCU, we saw Warner Bros. and DC follow suit with their own collection of comic book heroes. We've also seen a cinematic universe spring up around Godzilla and King Kong and an attempt at launching one around Universal's classic movie monsters, who arguably invented the concept back in the 1940s.
While other cinematic universes have met with varying degrees of success, and none have been as successful as Marvel, it seems unlikely that nobody else will ever try to launch one again. The opportunity for gain is simply too great. The cinematic universe gives the impression that otherwise unconnected stories need to be seen by fans who don't want to miss any elements of the larger storyline. This means that even when two and three films a year are released, fans are off to see them in the theaters, even if they don't necessarily focus on characters that fans care about.
Of course, just because other studios will almost certainly continue to try to emulate the success of the MCU, doesn't mean they will be successful. Chris Evans tells EW that what Kevin Feige and Marvel have done is something that nobody will be able to do again.
I’m always amazed with the ability that Kevin has had to house this giant tapestry of all these woven plotlines. I just don’t think it’s ever going to happen again. I don’t think anyone has the ability to launch all these different rockets, and then years down the road have them all explode at once. It’s just the planning and the care and the subtlety to it.
That's really the question. Can something like this happen again? Can even Marvel Studios do it again? While Marvel movies will continue after Avengers: Endgame, we have no idea what they will look like. Endgame is designed to be and endpoint of sorts. How much of the story will continue, how much the focus will shift to other characters or stories we still don't know. The MCU won't be starting at zero but it may very well be starting fresh, meaning even Marvel may have difficulty emulating its own success.