I have been a fan of Marvel as far back as I can remember. However, unlike most fans of Marvel I didn't discover it though comics. In fact I can honestly say that I have only ever read four or five comics. With this being the case, I guess you are wondering ‘how did I become a fan of Marvel?’. And the answer, as strange as it may sound, was Saturday morning cartoons.
I still remember the childhood thrill of waking up early to watch great shows like 'Spider-man', ‘X-Men’, ‘Fantastic 4’, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Iron Man: The Animated Series’. What attracted me to these shows was that while they still had action and super heroes, that wasn't the sole focus. They focused on the problems these powers brought into their lives, and the complications that arose whilst living with them. This was something that was never addressed in other shows that I was watching.
As time went on; I found myself moving away from cartoons, to computer games and movies. Marvel was not something I found myself thinking about until the release of the first ‘X-Men’ movie. I remember thinking at the time how amazing it looked even if the plot was… well lets not talk about that. This film started a resurgence in superhero movies after the initial surge created by Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ in 1989… and the fall caused in part by ‘Batman & Robin’, a film that was disliked by fans and critics alike.
The following years saw a stream of films based on Marvel characters - such as ‘Spider-man’, ‘Fantastic Four’,’Hulk’ and a collection of sequels. What wasn’t well known at the time was while these films included Marvel characters, they were made without any control from Marvel themselves. As a result of deals made when Marvel was in financial strife.
That all changed in 2008 with the release of ‘Iron Man’, a Marvel film finally made by Marvel. This was made possible by the founding of Marvel Studios. Marvel use the rise of superhero movies, many of which included their own characters, to launch themselves onto the cinematic stage with characters they still had the movie rights too.
What made this moment so monumental to me was that these films were so much more like the cartoons I loved as a child. The characterization was better handled, the plots followed the stories I remembered and were in most cases better written. This could be best seen when comparing Universal Pictures ‘Hulk’ to Marvel’s ‘The Incredible Hulk’, which had vastly different takes on the character.
On the back of this success Marvel planned one of the biggest gambles in cinematic history: The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Commonly known as the MCU.
The MCU was a plan to bring the linking characters and stories of the comic worlds into their cinematic universe. This was amazing because now not only did each film have a well thought out and structured plot, but built on and expanded an overarching story.
This lead to what has now become one of my favourite movies of all time, ‘The Avengers’.
‘The Avengers’ saw Marvel take it to the next level. All the main characters from their previous MCU films coming together to defend the earth from invasion, and yes it was as amazing as it sounded when the news first broke.
So now after being on the brink of bankruptcy Marvel find themselves as one of the leading forces in films. And it looks like they are sure of their future as they have released the title and release dates of all the films remaining in the expansive overarching story they have created, and I for one am really looking forward to seeing them.
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