As we enter the dawn of the 2014 Blockbuster Season, we can take a moment to think about what it’s turned into. Spielberg revolutionised the Summer Blockbuster twice – once with Jaws in the 70s and again with Jurassic Park in the 90s. He invented the mania of the box office and the big film, spreading shock waves through a period that boomed alongside technological innovation during the Noughties. As the summer industry continues to grow, one can earmark a third revolution: The Avengers Movement.
Marvel’s serial model, similar to the original comic books, of annual instalments has not only innovated commercially but also artistically. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America releases built up into the critically-acclaimed Avengers movie in 2011. This creation of a superhero world that builds piece-by-piece and year-by-year has grown the worldwide box office and reinvented the framework of sequel cinema.
In 2007, Spiderman 3 sparked the biggest seasonal worldwide box office growth for a decade – a 12.8% increase from 2006 ($3.7bn to $4.2bn). The Marvel movement begins.
Since the introduction of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, the following three Marvel instalments (Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron Man 2) and ultimate The Avengers round-up grossed nearly $3bn (£1.8bn) worldwide – more than the whole summer season in 1998. The success is extraordinary – and they’re not stopping.
Iron Man 3 blew 2013 out of the water with a $1.5bn worldwide gross, Thor: The Dark World trumped its prequel’s box office by 50%. Captain America: The Winter Soldier releases this week and the second round-up (or second sequel amongst sequels), The Avengers: Age of Ultron is set to sweep 2015’s summer business.
Consumers are clearly in love with Marvel’s maturing world and Batman scribes, DC Comics, are trying to imitate their lucrative model. While some would argue Nolan’s Batman trilogy would be part of this growing serial, last year’s flashy reboot of Superman, Man of Steel, is probably a more realistic earmark. It ran away with a $668m worldwide gross – an exceptional result.
In the same way that Marvel have the Avengers series to aim to, DC have a 2017 Justice League film to build towards. They’re targeting outlets across the entertainment landscape to get fans’ attention – from TV with a Flash series in the works to the big screen with a 2016 Batman Vs Superman film. Before that, we may even see a Wonder Woman film.
Time will tell whether DC can match the runaway success of Marvel – but this treatment of the summer as a springboard to build a movement is one of the great innovations of the film industry in recent history. Let’s hope these superhero flicks can continue to deliver the quality that got them to such a high pedestal.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is showing in 3D, 2D and Studio 5 NOW. Check times and book your tickets now: www.genesiscinema.co.uk.