How to make a franchise

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May 4th 2012 will continue to be a memorable day in Franchise history as this marks the opening day of the Avengers movie. The movie opened with a record $207 million. Using six of its characters, Marvel was able to produce one of the biggest franchises of its time.

This mouth watering success wooed other studio into trying to create their own franchise, Disney with Star Wars and DC Comics with Superman and Batman. But despite all attempt by other studios, none was able to do it as good as Marvel did. Marvel was not only successful with The Avengers movie, but it also raked in several billions on all 16 movies centered around its comics characters.

The success that Marvel movies experienced can be attributed to a lot of the brave and smart decisions it made early on in its franchise life. Some of such decisions came in the franchise first movie; The Iron Man, the movie that turned Robert Downey Junior into a megastar. As at the time of the movie, Robert was known more for his substance abuse problem and was very far off from being a star.

Iron man was the first feature film from an independent studio and directed by Jon Favreau who was known more for comedy than action. The script of the movie was not even finished as at the time of the filming as many writers passed it on, afraid that working with it may negatively impact their career. With all these challenges it is almost impossible to imagine success, yet Marvel was able to achieve it. In fact, these challenges were likely what energized the team into bringing out their best, including Robert’s A-game performance.

Marvel is known to prioritize its protagonist. In the Iron Man, the entire film revolved around Robert’s performance. In the first hour of the film only one scene doesn’t star Tony Stark, and the scene didn’t last more than 40 seconds.

The rationale behind this is simple; if the Iron Man is going to be a lead in Marvel’s expansive universe, then his individual film must do everything possible to leave an impression on its audience. Robert Downey was the appropriate character for the role of Tony Stark as his person life and struggle with substance abuseĀ  mirrors that which Tony Stark goes through during the film. The director though he would be able to connect with the internal sadness that drives the character, and he was right.

Unknown to many people, many things about Iron Man was improvised, a good example are the interactions between the leads were created on set. This is so Robert could give his personal natural best. In the original script Phil Colson was not supposed to feature more than a few seconds, but this was later changed and he was included in many other scenes after the director saw the chemistry between him and Stark.

The first phase of the marvel movies was not so perfect, and they probably didn’t start getting things right until almost half way into the second phase. But there have always been a strong sense of character with time devoted to the development of these characters and their lives.

The first phase was a special period in Marvel’s journey, as it gave them time to experiment and correct mistakes. Although Iron Man is not Marvel’s best film so far as they have made more ambitions movies, but the movie may just be the most important moment in Marvel’s history. The movie was Marvel’s first step towards building their empire, which was created through character.

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