As well as being one of the biggest comic publishers in the world, Marvel are a major player in the film industry. Bringing us some of the best superhero films ever made, its easily one of the biggest and most lucrative film franchises of our time.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding daily, with many of our all-time favourites jumping from the printed page to the silver screen. Luckily for us, we have years of upcoming movies to look forward to, with their latest film release schedule spanning over four years (from now until 2020)!
In 2009 The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment, LLC (Marvel’s worldwide parent company), for a massive $4 billion. Whilst Disney have helped Marvel continue to grow as a massive player in the entertainment industry, with their huge presence in the comic book, TV, and film space, it’s easy to forget that Marvel have actually been established (in one form or another) for over 70 years.
Where it all began
As the popularity of comic books featuring superheroes soared, it was in 1939 that Martin Goodman (former publisher of Pulp Magazines) created Timely Comics, publishing their first issue, Marvel Comics #1, in October that year. It was over the next few years that they began making a name for themselves in the industry and during the 1940s 'Golden Age' of comics, Marvel introduced many new characters, some of which - such as Captain America and Black Widow - endure to this day.
In the early days it was Jack Kirby creating most of the characters, but Marvel also had among their staff a talented young writer and artist by the name of Stan Lee. By the 'Silver Age' of the 1950s and 60s, Kirby and Lee had created some of Marvel's most enduring characters including Hulk, Thor, The X-Men, Iron Man and Spider-Man. In 1961, Marvel's characters converged in a single reality and the Marvel Universe was unveiled.
Introducing Marvel Studios
Whilst superheroes often team up on the pages of comic books, movie licensing deals limited specific characters to certain studios for particular franchises. But after Marvel Comics became increasingly dissatisfied with the way its characters were being portrayed on-screen, Marvel came up with a plan to start making its own films with the characters it owned the screen rights to. A subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, Marvel Studios (originally known as Marvel Films) planned to produce a number of films, based on the characters we met in Marvel Comics.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe
During the making of the films, the studio decided to replicate the unifying comic book concept that was first introduced back in the 1960s by Marvel creators Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee; the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born.
Like the Marvel Universe in the comic books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a shared fictional world that is centred on a series of American superhero films, based on the extensive back-catalogue of Marvel characters that appear in publications by Marvel Comics.
The first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Iron Man. Whilst Iron Man may have changed the game for Marvel movies, Marvel already had a long history of movie-making almost as old as the comic company itself. However, it was the introduction of the MCU that helped take the company to another level. Although many MCU films generally work as stand-alone adventures, fans’ viewing experience is enriched as they feel more immersed in the universe as a whole.
Not only have Marvel Studios helped reinvent the superhero film genre, it has to some extent helped reinvent film franchises altogether, which have only ever dealt in sequels and prequels, rather than 'shared universes'.
21st Century Marvel
Marvel Studios hit a home run in 2008 with Iron Man and, so far, have released 14 movies in the space of nine years. Each year, they’ve introduced something bigger and better into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Built on a strong foundation of originality, imagination and innovation, Marvel Studios is now a major cultural force that makes headlines with every film release. 2012’s The Avengers became the highest-grossing film of the year, and remains the third-highest-grossing film of all time (after taking $1.5 billion alone). The series has collectively grossed over $10.2 billion at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing film franchise in history.
There’s much more still to come…
Half the fun of the MCU is anticipating what’s coming next, and it’s clear that there are big plans for the future. To keep you all excited until the next release, we've laid out the next few years' worth of Marvel Studios films.
- Black Panther – 16th February, 2018
- The Avengers: Infinity War – 4th May, 2018
- Ant-Man and The Wasp – 6th July, 2018
- Captain Marvel – 8th March, 2019
- Untitled Avengers: Infinity War Sequel – 3rd May, 2019
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