Is ‘Shared Universe’ the new go-to idea in Hollywood?
There’s a rumor going around the Internet regarding the future of the Bond franchise. Apparently, the Broccolis are thinking about doing a shared universe for everything surrounding Agent 007.
The rumor started from here:
I’ve heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise… simultaneously.
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) June 23, 2017
Now, it’s not something new the idea of a shared universe. Ever since Marvel made humongous money with its franchise, every Studio is trying to get one going. We have Warner Bros. with the DCEU, The Wizarding World (which will probably turn out as such), and the MonsterVerse with Legendary, Universal with the Dark Universe and Paramount is going to expand Transformers lore furtherly… and probably mixing it with G.I. Joe. And let’s not forget about Star Wars.
The thing is that all those properties make sense to be expanded that way. Maybe Universal’s Dark Universe it still is too far fetched (in concept at least), yet The Mummy showed us the basis is there.
There’s no doubt the idea of Shared Universe might be intriguing for properties that might not have an extended lore. Bond is an example: everything we saw in the 24 movies revolved around him, everyone else was functional to the secret agent. Villains, Bond girls, helpers, allies, sidekicks (if any)… None of the characters, except rare cases, were screaming ‘mythology’ by just looking at them. Yes, you may have a spin-off about Felix (a character played by Jeffrey Wright in the Craig iteration) and American Agents, or you could have a cyber thriller explaining how the MI6 get ahold of Q. But otherwise, there’s very little worth exploring as it is. Granted, you can always invent something interesting or potentially killer if you hire good writers who actually care about making a good movie instead of trying to make a name for themselves. But I prefer to stick with the worst case scenario.
Generally speaking, it’s not easy to do set up a shared universe, even if you a source material that is a shared universe, let alone some source that has nothing to do with it.
So apart from the obvious potential economic return, why studios are actually trying to plan such thing?
Multiple reasons, but my main opinion revolves around one thing: marketability.
If you look at MCU movies, one thing stands out: by the end of 2018, the movies part of the franchise will be 20. Roughly an average of two movies a year since 2008’s Iron Man, the exact definition of overdoing.
The great thing about having a shared universe is that you can make sequels/prequels without calling them as such. For example, did you know that Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place a couple of months after Guardians of The Galaxy and can technically be considered a prequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron? Or that Spider-Man: Homecoming is a sequel to Captain America: Civil War? Ok, this last one was easy, yet no one refers to either movie with terms they would represent them perfectly into the big picture.
Basically: Marvel produced 20 movies interconnected, yet when media refers to the movies, no one considers the actual number of the movie in the franchise. They might refer to them as ‘The third Captain America movie’, but not actually ‘The thirteenth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’. They sure do within the article, but not in the headline (which is what most people read, disregarding the rest, unfortunately).
In an era where Internet promotion is basically everything, this is a good way to skip over numbers, as they could scare the audience off. How many Benedict Cumberbatch fans went to see Doctor Strange even though they never saw any MCU movie? Probably not too much given the franchise popularity, yet think about if the title was MCU 14: Doctor Strange. That would have been an issue to the casual audience.
While Bond never really suffered this problem and some franchises smartly play with it (Fast & Furious), marketing a movie without an actual number to establish its place in the franchise always help with the perception of it, as you can attract non-fans.
Creative-wise, a shared universe, if well planned, can create a cohesive narrative to make you feel like you are watching one, big story, instead of something that is expanded as it goes on (cough-Horcrux-cough), which contributes to the perception of the franchise.
These were my two cents on this Shared Universe matter. Do I agree with it? Not always, but I totally understand why they try to.
What do you think about shared universe? Let us know in the comments!