The premiere of a superhero film in 2012 changed the way of making films in this genre. It was also a demonstration of logistics that endures to this day. The Avengers celebrates 10 years of its premiere.
Unlike a select few, most of Marvel’s heroes were virtually unknown. Sure, comics, video games and animations had made them known among some niches. More to say that there was ever a good Captain America movie, it was very unlikely (it is worth mentioning that Cap had his own series with real actors in 1944). And impossible, think of an Avengers film.
In the 1970s, Spider-Man had a television show with actor Nicholas Hammond, but it was canceled after two seasons. The arachnid had some segments within the program The Electric Company, called Spidey Super Stories and even a series in Japan very little like its counterpart.
Another well-known Marvel hero is The Incredible Hulk, thanks to the television show that starred renowned Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner and athlete-turned-actor Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. As a fact, David Banner’s real name in the comics is Bruce Banner; however, he was altered for the television series as network executives believed Bruce sounded “gay”.
Other Marvel heroes who had series or programs with real actors were: Nick Fuyry (with David Hasselhoff), Doctor Strange, the aforementioned Captain America, Fantastic Four (directed by Roger Corman), Howard the Duck, The Punisher (with Dolph Lundgren ), Generation X and Man-Thing. The Incredible Hulk had three television movies with the same cast and production as the show.
Here is a link where we talk about The Punisher, considered a cult film:
For a few years, it was rumored that Tom Cruise could play Tony Stark as Iron Man, but the plans did not come to fruition. The truth is that being part of a superhero movie was not very well seen, since they were considered only for children.
The Spider-Man movie to be directed by James Cameron and with Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter Parker/Spider-Man was also cut short. Soon after, the duo devoted themselves to Titanic.
The studies also did not consider this type of project as something viable due to the high implicit budget. Many times they produced a film just to be able to maintain the rights they had acquired; that was the case with 1994’s Fantastic Four, immediately canned film.
Marvel sold the rights of many of its characters to different film studios in order to get out of the bankruptcy in which it was submerged, but large productions were not expected. Over time, they have been recovering most of the rights, integrating a larger cinematographic universe. A key piece was the purchase of Disney from Fox, through which The X-Men and the aforementioned Fantastic Four were reintegrated.
In other cases, they have been able to make deals with owners, such as Spider-Man and Sony/Columbia. Namor and Hulk are characters that have had trouble making a full return to Marvel.
Marvel executives saw the potential in their characters and believed that to be successful they needed to produce their own movies. The process was long and in 2008 they created the first project. People like Avi Arad and Kevin Feige worked for years to get to that point.
Another of the visionaries was the filmmaker John Favreau, who directed Iron Man with the required seriousness. The selection of the actors was essential to give credibility to the public, such as Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson and even Robert Downey Junior, who was trying to rebuild his career. Favreau’s vision is one that has been characteristic of the Marvel films. The also producer would repeat his success with the television series Star Wars: The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
The co-production with Universal, The Incredible Hulk, was added that same year. Various problems led to this film being practically ignored, although it does exist in continuity. In fact, actor William Hurt, who died in 2022, was rescued to once again characterize General Thadeus “Thunderbolt” Ross.
Some time later, films like Thor and Captain America joined. The renowned British, Kenneth Brannagh, was recruited to direct the version of the Norse god.
Small additional scenes at the end of the movie in each of the films created the notion of a shared universe. The epilogues and post-credit scenes generated expectations of a non-direct continuation in the film of another character.
In the world of comics, shared universes are of utmost importance. Transferring them to the cinema was unthinkable. To carry out a project of such magnitude, people who knew both media were needed, like Favreau himself.
For Avengers, the vision of Josh Whedon, creator of Buffy, Angel, Firefly/Serenity and writer of comics such as Astonishing X-Men and Buffy, was decisive.
As a filmmaker, writer and director, Whedon was aware of the technological advances that were decisive for the translation of comics into film and which is why the old adaptations used to fall short.
The balance in the way of telling the story allows each character to have their moment, nothing easy with such a large cast and 6 main members of Avengers: Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and Hawkeye, in addition to Nick Fury , Maria Hill, Phil Coulson, supporting characters, and the villain, Loki (who, in the 1963 comic, is also responsible for creating the team of heroes).
After Avengers, the cinematic language of superhero movies has changed, as well as the magnitude of the productions. And it is due in part to The Avengers of Marvel, which turns a decade.
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The Avengers celebrates 10 years of its premiere.
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