Is Universe Building Ruining The Art of Film?
Ever since we saw Tony Stark talking to General Ross at the end of The Incredible Hulk back in 2008, something happened to cinema that has now changed films forever. This was the start of building a movie universe, where characters from one film would crossover into another character’s film, making it look as if everything that was happening in these individual films was all part of this single world.
I was 15 when this all started, and I was completely sold on the idea. The thought of my favourite characters coming together could only be a good thing, and it was. The films still felt solo, but always teased the bigger picture, which in Marvel’s case was The Avengers film. I was a huge fan of The Avengers as it was a great climax to what they were building, but ever since I have felt the universe building has started to become more of a priority than creating a good film from beginning to end.
The main problem I have with creating a cinematic world, is that every studio has decided to jump on this bandwagon, as they have seen the incredible success Marvel have had, with the main culprit being Warner Bros and their DC films. Instead of creating solid, in depth films about the incredible characters they have, they’ve just decided to skip straight to the universe part, throwing Batman into Superman’s film and then making a film about Batman’s villains, with Suicide Squad, before we have even seen them in a film with Batman yet. On top of this, they have created a Justice League film without even having any story-building films for half of the team, therefore already getting off to a bad start. DC have some incredible characters and are now suffering because WB want to make lots of money, fast.
Not only have Warner Bros started to get involved in this Universe building, but Lucasarts are doing something similar. Sure, Star Wars is pretty much a living, breathing universe already, but the way they are composing their films is the issue. I always find myself having someone reply to me that “all will be explained in the next film” when I talk about my gripes with The Force Awakens, which I just feel is a bad excuse for a poorly executed film. Going to see a film at the cinema is not cheap, therefore I want to go and see a full story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, leaving the picture with some sort of closure, not coming out with more questions than when I went in. I do not believe this is what cinema about.
I now feel that even Marvel have become a bit out of control with what it is they are doing, creating films you need to have seen the ones prior to understand, as well as taking the shine off some incredible characters, because they know having other characters in their film will help it sell. For example, Tony’s role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. There was a day Spider-Man used to be able to sell a film himself, and we all used to love it.
I worry that, due to the amount of money this style of filmmaking is generating, it is just going to take over the industry, and, in turn, kill purely creative stories. Universal have not long announced their “Dark Universe”, which I feel is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope that we do not lose the art of storytelling, and not rely on building a universe to make money. I fear that this will not be the case.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below...