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Commentary: How much gas does Marvel have left?

With the completion of their Infinity Saga, a 23-film storyline stretching from the release of “Iron Man” in 2008 to the release of “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU’s) lifespan has come into question. 

The MCU is both the largest and most popular film franchise in modern history. With the release of “Spiderman: No Way Home,” the MCU officially expanded to include 27 total films. 

The longevity of the MCU is no doubt impressive, but skeptics are questioning just how long the MCU can soldier on for. 

Creative bankruptcy is an obvious candidate for the MCU’s kryptonite, but a plethora of comic book source material that some estimate could hold up the franchise for multiple decades further says otherwise. 

On the other hand, some critics argue that the repetitive nature of the MCU formula — quick & safe superhero action flicks — will eventually tire out the MCU’s fanbase. While new fans continue to flock to the MCU, these critics are quick to point out that the MCU is making life for new fans. 

The ever-growing count of Disney+ series and feature length films needed to understand the context of their films have steered some moviegoers away from Marvel, as watching 27 films for context purposes is a disinterest for many. 

Even with this, the MCU’s continuously record-breaking box-office receipts are currently proving these concerns blatantly wrong, and they’re not alone. 

Take a franchise like “Mission Impossible” for reference. The franchise only has six films in its catalog, but they date back to the mid-‘90s. Despite their longevity and objectively repetitive base formula, they continue to increase their box-office returns and audience ratings at an impressive rate. 

The release of “Mission: Impossible” in 1996 garnered over $450-million in box office returns and a 66 percent rotten tomatoes score. Their most recent release, 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” garnered over 750-million and a 97 percent rotten tomatoes score, proving that longevity does not always lead to creative bankruptcy. 

A film franchise like “Fast and Furious” tells a different story, with many critics calling the franchise’s latest installment the worst yet. 

The difference between the two, and also the reason the MCU and “Mission Impossible” franchises aren’t going anywhere any time soon, is a brilliant combination of reliability and uniqueness. 

The MCU has access to arguably the greatest gold-mine of action film source material known to man, whilst the “Mission Impossible” franchise has Tom Cruise. These franchises know who they are, and they don’t try to fly outside of that airspace. 

This leads to loyal, returning fan bases who constantly race to buy tickets at the sound of a new release. 


Because they know exactly what they’ll be getting, and they absolutely love it.


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