Summary

  • Marvel Studios has produced some of the highest-grossing films ever, including
    Avengers: Infinity War
    ,
    Avengers: Endgame
    and
    Spider-Man: No Way Home
    .
  • Marvel Studios has influenced Marvel Comics, with characters and storylines from the MCU being incorporated into the comics.
  • The MCU no longer has central characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, but has the opportunity to bring some of Marvel Comics’ A-listers into the MCU.

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Since the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2008, Marvel Studios has been through some massive and sometimes-surprising changes. Marvel Studios was first created in 1996, a new corporation under the Marvel banner that sought to independently adapt characters and storylines from Marvel Comics into live-action films and TV shows. Despite being established in the 1990s, Marvel Studios wouldn’t produce its own self-financed project until 2008’s Iron Man, having licensed various properties to other studios beforehand, but Iron Man would mark a milestone for the studio that would go on to create the most expansive and successful superhero franchise of all time.

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen some turbulence in recent years, with projects such as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Secret Invasion and The Marvels marking disappointing performances for the MCU, Marvel Studios is always learning from its mistakes. The MCU continues to grow, as a variety of projects both in film and TV have been announced to release up until 2027, though many more MCU projects are yet to be revealed for the years following Avengers: Secret Wars. Marvel Studios has grown exponentially since 2008’s Iron Man, and the company has been through some of the biggest changes out of any franchise in modern day cinema.

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10 Marvel Studios Created Some Of The Biggest Box Office Events Of All Time

Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame & Spider-Man: No Way Home Are 3 Of The Highest-Grossing Films Ever

The Avengers in Endgame poster

Marvel Studios achieved a great deal of success with its early projects, but not all were positively received. A major shift began to happen fairly quickly, however, as Marvel Studios began to produce some of the highest-grossing films of all time, with The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron quickly crossing $1 billion at the box office. 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame broke huge records for Marvel Studios, slipping over the $2 billion threshold, with the latter becoming the highest-grossing film ever before Avatar’s re-release in 2021. 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home achieved similar success, making the MCU the highest-grossing film franchise in history.

9 Marvel Studios Has Been Changing Marvel Comics In Significant Ways

Marvel Comics Stories Have Changed To Reflect The MCU

Marvel Studios’ early projects had very loose connections to the storylines of Marvel Comics, simply adapting the comics’ narratives rather than having any impact on them. Before too long, however, Marvel Studios’ live-action adaptations began to affect Marvel Comics, with many characters having their backstories retconned to mirror the MCU, as well as MCU original characters such as Phil Coulson, Erik Selvig and Layla El-Faouly, a.k.a. the Scarlet Scarab, being introduced into Marvel Comics. Some characters were redesigned, such as Nick Fury Jr., Killmonger and the Guardians of the Galaxy, while groups such as the Inhumans and Eternals were put in the spotlight to boost excitement for their MCU debuts.

8 The MCU No Longer Has Central Characters

Iron Man, Captain America & Thor Led The MCU’s Infinity Saga

Thor, Captain America and Iron Man in Avengers Endgame

Back in the MCU’s early days, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor spearheaded the franchise, being dubbed the “Big Three”. Despite being surrounded by a variety of other heroes, the Big Three led the MCU’s Infinity Saga, and while Thor continued in the Multiverse Saga, Iron Man and Captain America retired during 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. This left the MCU without a group of core characters, as Phases 4 and 5 have introduced many new heroes to the franchise, but have neglected to bring together a new “Big Three”. This has expanded Marvel Studios’ storytelling ability massively, but has also led to some criticism.

7 Marvel Has Become One Of Disney’s Biggest Properties

The Walt Disney Company Bought Marvel Entertainment In 2009

Natasha Romanoff in the ruins of the Red Room in Black Widow

Marvel Studios was founded in 1996 and began devising ideas to self-finance its own projects in 2004, but the landscape of the corporation changed significantly after The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009, following the release of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. The MCU’s Phase 1 projects, except for The Avengers, were distributed by other studios, but Disney has distributed every Marvel Studios project since then. While Disney owns iconic franchises including Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Avatar, Marvel Studios is by far Disney’s largest, most profitable and most successful properties.

6 Marvel Studios Now Has Most Of The Comics Characters Film Rights

Marvel Sold Many Characters Film Rights In The 1990s, But Several Have Since Returned

Back in the 1990s, Marvel was nearing bankruptcy, but in an effort to get some extra cash, the company sold the film rights to many of Marvel Comics’ characters to other studios. 20th Century Fox got characters including the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and the X-Men, Sony purchased Spider-Man and his related characters, and Universal Pictures got the Hulk and Namor, while other studios also got involved. After the film rights to Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor and Black Widow reverted to Marvel Studios in the 2000s, the opportunity was created for Marvel Studios to develop their own live-action film franchise, birthing the MCU.

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In recent years, the tide has turned even further, as while the distribution rights to the Hulk and Namor still remain with Universal, Marvel Studios owns the film rights. Marvel Studios and Sony entered into a deal in 2015 allowing Spider-Man to be integrated into the MCU, following two attempts at bringing the wall-crawler to the big screen. In 2019, Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox was finalized, returning the rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men to Marvel Studios, making their future in the MCU inevitable and incredibly exciting. The huge wealth of characters at Marvel Studios’ disposal now makes the future of the MCU very bright.

5 Marvel Studios Became An Academy Award Winning Franchise With Wins In 2019 & 2023

Black Panther & Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Broke MCU Records

Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa as the King of Wakanda in 2018's Black Panther

Following the 2018 release of Black Panther in the MCU’s Phase 3, Ryan Coogler’s debut MCU project became the first superhero film in history to be nominated for Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards. At the ceremony in February 2019, Black Panther became the first MCU project to win Academy Awards in several categories, including Best Costume Design, Best Original Score and Best Production Design. This was repeated at the 95th Academy Awards ceremony in March 2023, which saw Black Panther: Wakanda Forever take home the award for Best Costume Design, with the legendary Ruth Carter earning her second Oscar out of four nominations.

Costume designer Ruth Carter was also nominated for Academy Awards for Best Costume Design for her work on 1992’s Malcolm X and 1997’s Amistad. Carter was the first African American to be nominated for and to win the Oscar for Best Costume Design, and the first Black woman to win multiple Academy Awards in any category.

4 Marvel Studios Started Without Its A-List Characters

Some Of Marvel Comics’ Biggest Properties Will Soon Be In The MCU

Since Marvel sold the film rights to many of its most iconic heroes and villains in the 1990s, Marvel Studios didn’t have access to some of its heavy-hitters when developing the MCU. A-listers such as the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man weren’t able to spearhead the franchise. This meant that Marvel Studios had to use lesser-known and lesser-liked characters such as Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor and Captain America, but these heroes soon became famous thanks to the MCU. Marvel Studios has recently regained access to Marvel Comics’ A-list heroes, so this is set to change very shortly, with mutants and the Fantastic Four debuting in the MCU’s Multiverse Saga.

3 Kevin Feige Has Become A Household Name (& Other Studios Want Their Own)

Kevin Feige Has Been The President Of Marvel Studios Since 2007

Kevin Feige in front of the Marvel Studios logo

After being hired by Marvel as a producer on 2000’s X-Men, Kevin Feige’s intimate knowledge of Marvel Comics led to him becoming an associate producer and later second-in-command at Marvel Studios. In the mid-2000s, Feige began to devise a plan for a shared universe, and after being named President of Marvel Studios in 2007, the MCU was free to be developed. It’s rare that producers achieve as much fame as a franchise’s actors, but Feige has certainly achieved this level of success over the years. In 2019, Kevin Feige was named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Comics, Marvel Television and Marvel Animation, expanding his role even further.

When overhauling the DC Extended Universe in 2022, Warner Bros. went on the hunt for their own version of Kevin Feige, landing on new DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, who immediately set plans in motion to reboot the DCEU into their new DC Universe franchise.

2 Marvel Studios Has A More Long-Term Plan For The MCU’s Future

Kevin Feige Announced The Multiverse Saga’s Entire Story In One Go

Thanos and Iron Man fighting on Titan in Avengers Infinity War

Right at the beginning of the MCU, Marvel Studios had a plan to form the Avengers in Phase 1, but the grander scheme featuring the Mad Titan Thanos wasn’t on the cards. The Infinity Saga storyline developed over several years, paying off teases from The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Conversely, the MCU’s Multiverse Saga storyline has already been clearly laid out by Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige, with many projects in the Phase 4, 5 and 6 slates being revealed at SDCC 2022, including Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. Marvel Studios has a much more solid plan for the future now, and this will surely continue.

1 Marvel Studios’ MCU Is The Biggest Film Franchise Of All Time

Marvel Studios Has Released 33 Films, 11 TV Shows & 2 Special Presentations

MCU collage with many Marvel Studios heroes and villains

It’s difficult to ignore the fact that, since kicking off with 2008’s Iron Man, the MCU has become easily the largest film franchise of all time. MCU projects have not only collectively garnered the biggest box office total ever, but also contains the highest number of projects across film, TV and animation. As of January 9, 2024, Marvel Studios has released 33 feature films, 11 TV shows and two Special Presentations set in the MCU, far surpassing Fox’s 13 X-Men films, the DCEU’s 17 projects across film and TV, and the 25 films in the James Bond franchise, making Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe the biggest franchise in cinema history.

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