Epic Superhero Adventures!
A book called “Marvellous Blockbuster Maker: Creating Epic Superhero Adventures!” instructs budding authors and storytellers on how to create engrossing superhero tales. The book offers a step-by-step manual for designing intriguing characters, fascinating stories, and exciting action scenes. It addresses crucial storytelling components like character development, world-building, and pacing.
Additionally, the book explores the financial aspect of writing by offering advice on pitching and selling stories to publishers and production companies. “Marvellous Blockbuster Maker” is a priceless tool for anyone wishing to produce epic superhero adventures that captivate readers and viewers alike. It was written by seasoned writers and editors in the comic book and entertainment industries.
Choose Experience Over Inexperience
In films, a huge factor in what you get is who you hire. And as the adage goes, “Past performance is the best predictor of future performance.” Marvel Studios ingeniously flips this axiom on its head by employing directors who have experience in fields outside of those in which Marvel is an authority.
Only one of the 15 MCU directors has experience with the superhero subgenre (Joss Whedon had contributed to the X-Men script and had written a critically praised Marvel Studios comic book arc). They were rather well-versed in other genres, including Shakespeare, horror, espionage, and comedy. They frequently originated in the indie scene. Due to their experience, they were able to give each movie a distinctive vision and tone: Shakespearean undertones may be seen in Thor.
The Dark World, while Ant-Man is a heist movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a spy thriller, and Guardians of the Galaxy is an exhilarating space opera. Additionally, the majority of the directors were accustomed to working with limited resources because their pre-MCU film budgets were only roughly one-seventh as large as their MCU budgets.
A good example is the first film produced by Marvel Studios, Iron Man (2008), which was a double wager on director Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr. Swingers, Elf, and Zathura: A Space Adventure are just a few of the small-budget, critically praised films Favreau has worked on in the past. He was renowned for his witty banter and his capacity to create compelling characters.
He had no prior experience working on visually stunning blockbuster superhero action films. Although Downey had proven himself to be a wonderful actor, probably most memorably in Chaplin, he was also well known for his drug relapses and had never been chosen as the star of a major action film.
Each person brought their own expertise and inexperience, and as a result, according to Iron Man co-star and seasoned Hollywood actor Jeff Bridges, the production occasionally felt like “a $200 million student film.”
But the mixture was effective. The experience component of the equation was best explained by Roger Ebert in the following way: “Tony Stark is constructed from the persona Downey has fashioned through many films: irreverent, quirky, self-deprecating, wise-cracking. It was a brave move on the part of director, Jon Favreau, to enable Downey to think and speak the way he does while sporting all that technology.
The advantage of Favreau’s lack of expertise with superhero films was further highlighted by Ebert, who stated that “a lot of big-budget f/x epics seem to abandon their stories with half an hour to go and just throw effects at the audience.” This one has a plot so clever that it holds together despite the loud impacts and massive explosions.
Similar decisions have been taken by Marvel studios for its earlier films. James Gunn, who gained notoriety for his work on low-budget horror films, directed Guardians of the Galaxy. Chris Pratt, the self-described “pet fat guy” from the TV comedy Parks and Recreation, was cast as a superhero by Gunn, who also based the soundtrack on songs from the ’70s. Thor: Ragnarok was directed by Taika Waititi, who had no prior experience in the superhero genre and had a background in absurd humor and character studies.
Marvel Studios: Superhero films Used to Be the Death Knell for Actors Who Wanted to Pursue Their Artistic Goals
Directors are given a lot of freedom by Marvel Studios, especially in areas where they have expertise. Waititi, Favreau, and Gunn all talk about how they were granted a surprising amount of creative flexibility. In a 2008 interview, Favreau said, “There’s a real sense of freshness and discovery in this project. We could sit in the trailer with the Marvel studios guys, with the producers and the actors, and talk about what the scenes should be based on, what we’ve shot, and what we’ve learned.”
The movie industry is not the only one to use this strategy: In order to progress towards sustainable energy solutions, energy businesses hire meteorologists; hedge funds recruit top chess players with exceptional pattern recognition skills; and consulting firms update their products by hiring anthropologists and fashion designers.
As its creative director, Cirque du Soleil selected Fabrice Becker, who had won a gold medal for France in freestyle skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympics. In a 1992 profile in Inc., the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, stated, “I’ve found that rather than bringing in businessmen and teaching them to be dirtbags, it’s easier to teach dirtbags to do business.”
For Patagonia, the “dirt bag” experience—frugally and passionately engaging in outdoor sports—provides a deep understanding of customers, goods, and strategies for persuading others to adopt a sustainable perspective.
Outfit7, one of the world’s fastest-growing global family entertainment enterprises and a company started by eight Slovenians, serves as a suitable illustration. It is most known for the global sensation Talking Tom, whose apps have nearly 10 billion downloads and currently sits atop the global charts.
The company was purchased by a consortium of Asian investors, who named the 32-year-old ziga Vavpoti as board chairman. Vavpoti claimed to have never downloaded a video game before joining Outfit7 in 2014. He did, however, have extensive experience working with social entrepreneurs and in NGOs.
Utilize a Stable Core
Marvel Studios keeps a limited percentage of the same cast members from one film to the next in order to balance the new talent, voices, and ideas it introduces to each film. Marvel Studios is able to develop a community that is appealing to new talent and maintains consistency across products because of its stability.
The core creative group, which normally consists of 30 people for each picture, had substantially greater overlap between films than the entire crew (which totaled roughly 2,500 people). A core group’s average overlap between films is roughly 25% (with a range of 14% to 68%), and the total crew’s average overlap between films is 14% (with a range of 2% to 33%). Naturally, series films show more core-group overlap: For instance, it increased by 68% between Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, and by 55% between Iron Man and Iron Man.
In retrospect, it may not come as a surprise that these actors were drawn to the wealth and scope of the most popular film universe in the world. However, the gravitational force appears to have existed from the beginning. Paltrow claimed to have “signed in blood” for three films when questioned on the first Iron Man set, something she had never done before.
In interviews, actors like Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, and the Guardians of the Galaxy cast members have echoed her justifications: They experience an open invitation and freedom to “do their thing,” to experiment and work together to create complex and compelling characters. Brie Larson, another Academy Award winner, agreed to play Captain Marvel in seven films.
Even partners who may have had a bad time with Marvel studios seem eager to work with them again. The well-known screenwriter Zak Penn, who co-wrote Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, serves as an example. He was hired to write the script for The Incredible Hulk, but he and the movie’s star, Edward Norton, ended up fighting about who should get the screenwriting credit.
The Avengers’ screenplay was later written by Penn over a period of years, only for Whedon to take over as director and completely rewrite it. After such situations, many artists would decline to work together again. Penn, however, is supposedly working on a top-secret Marvel Studios film script.
The finest football teams competing in the UEFA Champions League over the previous ten years have thrived using a similar strategy. Barcelona maintained continuity during its era of global dominance (2008–2015) by developing young players from its own academy, preserving the team’s center line year after year, and adding new talents (Luis Suárez, Neymar) to bolster the core group.
Traditionally, Real Madrid had paid a lot of money to sign superstars or galácticos. As the club frequently struggled to advance to the Champions League finals after 2003, this plan backfired. The team then adopted a strategy like Barcelona’s, developing a core of young players blended with stars and intermediate players, as well as a reliable management group headed by former player Zinedine Zidane.
Real Madrid eventually won the Champions League three years in a row (2016-2018), which is unheard of. It was the most consistent elite club in all of Europe since its starting lineup was practically identical every season. Both clubs were better able to absorb new supporting players because of stability.
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Continue to Challenge the formula
Often, businesses are reluctant to give up on the qualities that let a creative product succeed. However, each of the directors for Marvel Studios has expressed a readiness to let go of what made the previous MCU films successful. In 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp director Peyton Reed discussed how his film differed from those that came before it (Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War).
With regard to structure, we sought inspiration from works by Elmore Leonard and films like Midnight Run and After Hours and wanted to [be] in the crime genre. We have always known that after Panther and Infinity War, we will come out. Each of us thought, “Okay…While being in sharp contrast to what came before, this feels natural to what we were already doing.
We examined all of the MCU films to see if there was any proof of their formulaic nature in order to assess whether this was more than just lip service. Were individuals really merely repeatedly viewing the same movie?
The answer initially appeared to be affirmative. The third act of every MCU film features climactic conflicts that frequently heavily rely on computer-generated VFX, superheroes, and villains. Additionally, the late Stan Lee, who penned many of the original comic books, makes a cameo appearance in each film. But a deeper look showed that there was more going on. In addition to the visual story they present, films also create drama that we experience.
We used a computerized text analysis of each film’s script and a visual study of its visual elements to comprehend those dimensions. We also looked at the components that top critics identified as either challenging or reinvigorating the superhero movie genre. Our objective was to examine more closely if the dramatic, visual, and narrative components of the films varied.
According to our screenplay research, the emotional tones (the proportion of positive and negative emotion orally expressed by the characters) in Marvel Studios films vary. For instance, there is a humorous moment in Iron Man 2 where Nick Fury begs Iron Man to leave a giant doughnut that serves as a sign for a diner, “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to exit the doughnut!” The following film, Thor, on the other hand, is darker and more depressing as it focuses on Thor disappointing his father and being banished from his presence.
The aesthetic styles of the films also differ. The most significant modifications come from Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The first and third films’ stories take place on Earth, whereas Guardians takes place in space and on otherworldly planets.
Furthermore, the films with the highest critical (and audience) ratings are the ones that are viewed as violating the superhero genre: The Incredible Hulk and the first two Thor films are variously described by critics as “boringly formulaic” and “only involving the very young”; the audience is “hammered with one cliché after another” and with an exhausting “visual extravaganza.” Homecoming for encouraging fantasies of neighborhood responsibility rather than interplanetary ultraviolence, and Black Panther for its social criticism and politically conscious protagonists.
Not only do audiences appear to tolerate Marvel’s Studios incessant experimentation, but it has also become an essential part of the MCU experience: fans go to the next picture eager for something new.
Take, for example, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It received critical accolades for its visually striking differences from previous films in the franchise, as well as its willingness to deviate from the previous films’ plot arc. Long-time admirers of the brand, however, considered these infractions as unacceptable—even sacrilege. As a result, almost 100,000 of them joined a petition on Change.org requesting that Disney remove the film from the Star Wars canon. Some of the new characters’ actors have been ridiculed and tormented online.
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Encourage Customer Curiosity
Marvel Studios, at its best, arouses passionate interest in characters, plotlines, and totally new worlds. Its entire universe has the feel of a puzzle that anyone can solve. Moviegoers are transformed into active participants in a broader event.
Marvel fosters curiosity in a variety of ways. One method is to indirectly engage customers as coproducers through social media interactions. This technique is steeped in a long Marvel tradition of encouraging the establishment of fan communities by providing letter columns at the back of comic books, for example.
Fans may perform in public, and creators could respond to fan feedback in the columns. In keeping with this history, Favreau and other Marvel directors make a point of using social media to stay in touch with comic book fans, gathering insights from chat rooms and message boards.
Marvel Studios promotes anticipation for upcoming films by including “Easter eggs” in current releases that hint at a future product without giving away the plot. The most prominent example is the film’s well-known post-credits scenes. The first of them was featured towards the end of Iron Man, when S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury, played by Samuel L.
Jackson, is introduced, implying to viewers that Iron Man is part of a bigger world. The films also feature semi-hidden onscreen features and references that only die-hard fans would detect, as well as story threads and character development that span multiple films and merchandise.
The Staff of the Living Tribunal, a similarly important weapon, was casually presented in Doctor Strange and may foretell the introduction of a new character dubbed the Living Tribunal in future films. A chalkboard is loaded with equations in Thor: The Dark World, one of which parallels a comic book arc about Doctor Strange catching the Incredible Hulk, potentially predicting a plot surprise.
Devoted comic book aficionados will notice numerous such nods, as well as hidden and overt connections to other films, both internal and external to the universe. Critics and analysts are eager to point out the obvious ones, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Maltese Falcon, and Star Wars references in Guardians of the Galaxy and several allusions to James Bond films in Black Panther.
There are dozens of these websites dedicated to Black Panther alone, where viewers discuss everything from comic book imagery, an obvious nod to the self-lacing trainers from Back to the Future Part II, allusions to African culture, and the significance of the opening scene in Oakland (where director Ryan Coogler grew up and the Black Panthers first formed) to more subtly (or not) veiled references to Wales’s independence and Trump’s wall against Mexico.
The majority of strategies for maintaining innovation and creativity center on establishing a culture or adhering to a method. These methods are helpful, but they overlook a crucial fact: In many situations, a successful product places restrictions on what could come next. The four Marvel Cinematic Universe principles will aid businesses in overcoming those limitations, but they must be used collectively.
Without a strong, ongoing commitment to challenge the formula (principle #3) and a steady core team (principle #2), selecting for experienced inexperience (principle #1) will only result in people who are unable to perform the tasks you need them to. The possibility of encouraging customer curiosity (principle #4) will also be hampered by a lack of commitment to challenge the formula (principle #3):
The best easter eggs won’t make up for a formulaic film or a lifeless product line. A corporation will create a sustainable and continuously renewing innovation engine if it is successful in firing on all of these cylinders at once.
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