At the end of Dracula Untold, the setting shifts from the fantasy plains of Transylvania to the streets of modern day society with the main character, Vlad, dressed to the nines in a suit and chasing a woman who looks just like his deceased wife. As the vampire walks away with the girl, his master looks on coyly before getting up and announcing, “let the games begin.”
This seems to be the phrase that is setting up future cinematic universes for multiple studios after the mass appeal and success of Marvel’s The Avengers and the movies that both led up to and followed this film, all intersecting in both small and large ways.
This trend of studios looking to find the “next Avengers” seems to be sweeping with the latest example being the scene mentioned from Dracula Untold, which is set to begin the Universal monsters universe that includes Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Wolfman.
With the news on Wednesday that following the release of Batman v. Superman in 2016, DC and Warner Bros. would be releasing two films a year for the following four years, including standalone movies for Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and the ultimate Avengers team-up lookalike in Justice League.
While not entirely relegated to superheroes, as seen through the monster movies, it seems like this trend isn’t set to go anytime soon. Sony recently announced that they would be making a cinematic universe entirely about Robin Hood and his merry men.
But are the studios truly following the mold set by Marvel and their league of superheroes? The original model used a host of directors, writers, and the mind of Kevin Feige to create a shared vision and build each character with personality while tying together the story in order to make each hero function within each other’s universe without actually having to show up in their movies.
Feige allowed minds like Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston, and eventually Joss Whedon to create the characters that would eventually lead to the team-up in The Avengers, which would go on to become one of the highest grossing movies of all-time.
But does that create an immediate translation to success for the other franchises?
That question is still open to interpretation. DC and Warner Bros. are putting a lot of stock in their cinematic universe that actually could include more diversity than Marvel’s. With a Wonder Woman and Cyborg standalone movies, and a reboot of Green Lantern, DC could be set to have a female-led and two black actor-led franchises with Marvel having an all white male slate as of right now.
While DC could have the closest thing to The Avengers set, Sony struggles with their cinematic universe and prized hero Spider-Man. With the poor critic and audience reaction on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was supposed to be the catalyst for their new shared universe, Sony realized that maybe creating a world created around one character won’t work.
Now rumors say the studio will focus on Sinister Six while keeping their prized hero on the back burner until 2018 or even longer. While a loan with Marvel could be in order, the studio can’t follow the mold that the former company set with their own heroes.
The trend to make a shared universe comes from the long form comic book stories that made tying characters together something incredible, but it doesn’t seem like something that is translating well to film. But some of these worlds are still in the early stages and the pull to gain money over creativity continues to fuel the minds of those behind these choices.
I guess that means buckle in for a standalone movie on Friar Tuck. Maybe they can convince David Fincher or Edgar Wright to direct it to make it interesting.
– Zach Dennis