I understand it’s a dream of most Marvel fans to see all of their characters in one universe. As a comic book fan I get that, truthfully I do. At the same time, I don’t mind having separate universes for the different Marvel superhero characters, because that means we just get more superhero movies. At this point, it’s the popular thing to have cinematic universes (even “Ghostbusters” wants to do that!). Yet I think there is a benefit to having them separate. Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe took the world by storm no one seemed to care if the universes were separate or not. Then, movies like “Iron Man”, “Incredible Hulk”, “Thor” and the “Avengers” dropped an atom bomb on our pop culture. Now everyone has to get into the cinematic universe game. DC would end their highly successful “Dark Knight” series and give their universe a brand new jump start with “Man of Steel”. Fox Studios over went some changes to their “X-Men” universe, now giving out solo movies to certain characters like Gambit and Deadpool to have their own cinematic universe. Sony laid the groundwork for their own cinematic universe with Spider-Man (which did not end up materializing). Marvel fans want all their properties back yet isn’t there a big benefit to having them separate?
Think back before the popularity of the MCU. People may have heard of “Iron Man” but he certainly wasn’t a popular character. If Marvel had all of their properties would they have led off with arguably is now the MCU’s most popular character? More than likely they would be making Spider-Man, and X-Men movies. You can forget about “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Ant-Man”. There just wouldn’t be any room in their slate.
One thing many people forget about is Marvel is a company too. They only have so many resources to produce so many films a year. This means as a company they do have to make a profit(s) (all the evil things that Warner Bros and Fox supposedly do as well, attempt to make some money) to make more movies. So, if they had all their properties we would never see some of the lesser known characters. Instead of taking risks on smaller properties they would be focusing on their juggernauts. Fans are always clamoring for a new Spider-Man movie or a new Fantastic Four so Marvel would be making those movies instead of maybe even “Captain America: The Winter Solider”. The slate of films would be so different that we’d miss out on some great films that Marvel is doing. You know how people want a Black Widow movie? Well even without all their properties (like X-Men and Fantastic Four or even before Spider-Man (sort of) came back) they still don’t have room for it.
This is a situation where a great and well-known character like Daredevil only gets a TV show instead of a movie. Don’t get me wrong I am excited about the show but that’s only because I have been missing the character on the screen for some time now. I would love to see a Moon Knight movie, but sadly I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Plus the more properties Marvel get back from other studios, the less likely it will be to get movies based off a comic like Moon Knight (or a Punisher movie). DC has all their properties but I’m more than likely not going to see a Justice League Dark and certainly not a Vigilante movie (I grew up reading the run that started with Marv Wolfman in the 1980s). I would like to see a string of Green Lantern movies where all the different Green Lanterns get introduced but I know that’s not going to happen for a while either.
Many people are upset that Fantastic Four is in their own universe. Yet, there is a benefit to having them on their own….you get to focus strictly on them. Would adding Superman to “The Dark Knight” trilogy make it any better? No, it was great on its own and could it’s focused on the character of Batman and his story. Director Christopher Nolan didn’t have to worry about setting up for a Justice League movie or worrying about how the relationship of Batman and Superman works. I know this is becoming a relic of a different era, but I think there are benefits to it.
Of course, this is a double edge sword because perhaps if the rights weren’t split up we wouldn’t get movies like “Spider-Man 3” or “X-Men: The Last Stand”. Or would we? Marvel studios (as much I love them) has made a few missteps themselves. “Iron Man 2” is the biggest glaring mistake; “Captain America: The First Avenger” wasn’t that good and “Iron Man 3” has its fair share of major problems. Then again if the rights weren’t split we wouldn’t have “X-Men: First Class” or “X-Men: Days of Future Past” or even “Spider-Man 2” for that matter.
Recently though the movies (from just about all studios) have been generally good. Plus with so many studios producing their own movies, it breeds competition. What does competition breed? Well, excellence. Every studio has to step it up if they want to compete in this superhero movie game. I believe we’ve been seeing that much more recently. Ever since “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” help redefine the genre, the genre as a whole just kept getting elevated. Were there some misfires? Sure there were! (“Green Lantern” anyone?) . But, the difference is, there was far less of them then back in the early 2000s after the comic book genre exploded once “X-Men” was released. So as much as I love to have cinematic universes and Marvel Studios, there are benefits and novelties to them being split up. Which, is why I think the possibilities of the new “Fantastic Four” reboot are exciting.