Why Marvel’s The Avengers Succeeded Where Others Failed

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MOVIE NEWS: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel’s the Avengers was able to do what no other loated superhero franchise could ever do: exceed all expectations and continue the juggernaut of success.

It’s something the X-Men franchise failed to do with X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and the Spider-Man franchise failed to do in Spider-Man 3 (2007) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). While other franchises like Fantastic Four, Batman and Superman deserve mention, we’ll focus on Spider-Man and X-Men.

*Spoiler alerts from here on out*

The success of the X-Men franchise was in large part due to Bryan Singer’s first two films. When Singer left to direct Superman Returns (2006), leaving Brett Ratner in charge of X3. Despite box office success becoming the highest grossing film of the franchise, X3 would rank 58 percent on RottenTomatoes.com, the reviewer aggregation site. Fox reinvigorated the X-Men franchise under Matthew Vaughn with X-Men: First Class (2011) and later Singer’s return to the franchise with X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), which undid the events of X2 (2003), X3 and possibly X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

To explain how bloated X3 was, every single popular mutant that was barely an Easter egg or left out completely was shoehorned in including Beast, Juggernaut (now a mutant) and Psylocke to try to finish the Dark Phoenix Saga. Summary of what went wrong with X3:

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The Spider-Man franchise was helmed by Sam Raimi for his Spider-Man run (2002-2007) and Marc Webb (2012-2014) with his Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Raimi’s Spider-Man series had balanced stories focusing on its characters with one villain until his third movie Spider-Man 3 when Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) had to face not one, but three villains…rather one real villain in the Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church); one former best-friend-turned villain then given amnesia later back to being a dick who later learned the error of his ways Harry Osborn/New Goblin (James Franco); and one villain who had five minutes (maybe) of screen time as Venom (Topher Grace). Venom, whose rivalry with Spider-Man is comparable to what Joker or Bane are to Batman, is reduced to a glorified cameo.

When Webb got a hold of the franchise, he redid the origin story of Peter Parker and added the mystery of his parents. Parker (Andrew Garfield) was given Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), his original girlfriend before Mary Jane Watson, and a villain in the Lizard/Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) in the Amazing Spider-Man (2012). Two years later, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 we had not one, but three villains. The primary villain was Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx), who unfortunately never the threat or developed enough that Spider-Man villains were in the previous films. Electro might as well been a Joel Scumacher Batman villain. Rhino (Paul Giamatti) was essentially reduced to a glorified cameo. The new Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), introduced in this film, became the Green Goblin without that long screen time build up that Raimi did to really show that “friendship.”

Green Goblin or Evil Ed from Fright Night?
Green Goblin or Evil Ed from Fright Night?

What was the fallout from that movie? How about the lowest grossing film in the franchise? Now that Sony’s announced Spider-Man’s release to the MCU, there’s yet another reboot!

So now let’s get to Joss Whedon and Marvel’s The Avengers.

Five movies to build it up with each superhero having his own film with end credit scenes to hype up the film. There were two Iron Man films, released in 2008 and 2010; The Incredible Hulk (2008); Thor (2011), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

You know who were the major villains were in Marvel’s The Avengers? How about Loki and the Chitauri?

Yes the main villain from Thor was also the same for The Avengers. He didn’t just do it all himself, the egos involved with the heroes created their own worst enemies when trying to work together. When Loki wasn’t causing mischief enslaving both Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) with his staff, the Avengers were often at each other’s throats. When they finally came together, you end up seeing moments like this.

Hulk and Loki – Best of Friends!

Really you end up getting is arguably the best superhero movie of all time, but in the very least the highest grossing one.

It gets even better from there, Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), each movie successively getting better and still ZERO reboots for phase two since the Avengers closed out phase one.

Expect more of this in phase three.

Funniest thing is that the Age of Ultron (2015) isn’t even closing out phase two, it’s Ant-Man (2015). Best thing about the Avengers is that they can cycle out and rotate superheroes with phase three to keep things fresh.

What does DC have to build into The Justice League (2017)? Man of Steel (2013)? Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)? They cannot even build off of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy due to its conclusion. They’re introducing Wonder Woman and Aquaman in Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman is slated for a 2017 release and Aquaman is slated for a 2018 release. At least they’re trying?

Marvel’s The Avengers: The Age of Ultron comes out May 1.

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Tom Chang
Sci-fi and technology geek since the NES days, Tom loves everything from the cult classics, the contemporary hits to the beast with two backs that is Disney and Marvel. His life's mission is to be the ultimate nerd savant sitting on the iron throne as CEO of Skynet while masquerading as a vigilante at night wearing hockey pads.
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