Why Marvel Studios Needs to Pay Up

I like superhero films. As such, I definitely appreciate that the genre is going through a good patch where budgets allow for some pretty impressive representations of what happens on the page. A sign of this change in focus has been the creation of Marvel Studios – for years Marvel was content to sell their IP rights to all and sundry who could pony up a bit of cash (this being a time when Marvel thought selling comics was the way to make money) and promise to make a film that might vaguely be linked to the comic book.

This led to some awful, awful Marvel films.

More recently, Marvel Studios have stepped up to develop their own Marvel character films that have a much tighter focus on quality and have been pretty successful overall and there are lots of plans to build some big movie franchises over multiple movies.

Now, what could Marvel Studios be doing to mess that up?

Sowing The Seeds Of Your Own Destruction: Priceless

Marvel Studio’s biggest problem appears to be its willingness to try to screw those involved on their salaries. These are generally actors that Marvel Studios wants to have around for a while – all those sequels and franchise films and so on – which would seem to make the process of underpaying people a poor choice.

Scarlett Johannson and Black Widow

How could they pick Johannson as the Black Widow when her hair colour is clearly wrong? Epic phail.

Here’s the history that’s in the public domain:

And that’s the ones that have made it to the public arena.

I do get it from Marvel Studios point of view – they are aiming to make expensive, blockbuster movies with ensemble casts which is expensive, so let’s keep the salaries under control. However, this doesn’t really help them keep those ensembles, which is kind of the point when trying to merge a number of franchises into one film, which is the aim of “The Avengers”. It doesn’t really help them with future hires either – for instance, I’m sure that if Marvel Studios wants Ryan Reynolds in a “Deadpool” film, they’ll have to deal with what Johannson has told him about her experiences.

So, the alternative is hiring up-and-comers or those with the potential to possibly deliver, who may work cheaper… but also may not be able to execute things as well as those with a bit more experience. Case in point is “Thor”‘s Chris Helmsworth. Is he going to be able to carry an entire film as the main character? Plus it gets harder to cry poor as Marvel films increase in their success – everyone knows there is money there and goes for a bigger piece of the pie if a Marvel Studios film rakes in the cash (as it did for “Iron Man”).

For all the fan excitement over the potential of “The Avengers”, it remains to be seen if it will actually appear on screens. With “Thor” and “Captain America” still to be delivered, there is a solid chance that if Marvel Studios isn’t careful, they will end up with new actors for established parts in every film they release. You can make up your own joke about Marvel, comics and their respect for continuity.

UPDATE 30 Mar 2012: Dear lord, the spelling here was bad. Obviously it was one of my very late at night efforts.

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