Film studios had a wake-up call in 2008. For years, they had been in a creative stupor, commissioning remake after sequel, meaning that original scripts were marginalized to the point that they were seen as unprofitable risks. Then came a seismic volte-face: Samuel L. Jackson popped up in a post-credits scene in the first Iron Man movie and audiences went wild, giddy for the idea that a follow-on movie didn't just have to be the continuation of a plot-thread: it could be something more entirely. The thirst for coherent, inter-locking threads that built up to a bigger picture started here.
The difference between a mere sequel and the beginning of a movie universe is vast; whereas a sequel will continue the narrative for a popular character, a universe is entirely more enriching, creating a non-linear narrative that branches off into entirely different forms of story-telling while offering constant references to what has come before...and is yet to follow. Marvel Studios are fantastic at pulling off this trick, with a universe that comic book fans and casual cinema-goers alike can follow with ease. But is their position as the dons of universe-building under threat? As studios wise up to playing the long game with their releases, more universes are cropping up, many of which threaten to bring in more bucks than Marvel.
We shall examine ten of the most exciting and ambitious proposed movie universes, taking in studios that are both looking to the early days of Hollywood for inspiration and companies that are looking to build up a fanatical following from scratch. While there is an obvious risk of over-saturating a market and relying too much on audience loyalty, it's hard to believe that the following universes won't deliver some serious profit margins for their backers.
10 The Ghostbusters Universe
9 The Lego Universe
8 The Jump Street/MiB Universe
7 The Valiant Comics Universe
6 The Transformers Universe
5 The X-Men Universe
4 The Star Wars Universe
3 The Classic Monsters Universe
2 The Stephen King Universe
1 The DC Universe
Quite simply, it is impossible to see the shiny new DC universe failing at the first hurdle. Or rather, the second - Man Of Steel was retroactively decided upon as the start of the shared universe, as the sequel was announced to be the superhero mash-up, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Interest in the latter is so fierce that it will take catastrophic reviews to dent the box office takings, meaning that DC/Warners should make good on their ambition to deliver the slurry of related movies that they recently announced would take them up to 2020. Alongside a separate Batman trilogy, fans can look forward to Green Lantern TV shows and a full film, Wonder Woman, The Flash TV and film, Cyborg, Aquaman and the team series of both Justice League
and Suicide Squad. The smart money is on the darker, grittier DC universe being one which could outshine that of Marvel.
Sources: denofgeek.us, cinemablend.com, screenrant.com, io9.com
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