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No matter what way you look at it, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not just anomalous within its genre, but more broadly within cinema. Yes, there have been blockbusters before. Yes, there have been long-running blockbuster franchises before (in fact, depending on how you choose to count them, there are over 30 movies within a single Godzilla movie canon). And yes, there have certainly been superhero movies before.
However, there has never been a single entertainment entity that has so perfectly embodied all of these disparate elements before. There has never been a franchise that has so quickly grown to such monolithic proportions before (going on 20 movies in 11 years and currently churning out three new entries annually). Not since Jaws in 1975 (or, arguably, Psycho in 1960) has a single film so immediately, drastically and irrevocably changed what movies look like to the average movie-goer. And certainly none of these movies have maintained such unerring popular and critical approval all the while.
Word - Implies - Movies - Quality - Work
Actually, “maintained” isn’t the right word there. “Maintained” implies that the movies’ plateaued in quality: simply coasting along, producing roughly equitable work corresponding with some arbitrary status-quo. (plus or minus the occasional dip or spike in quality). “Maintained” suggests that these movies have been in a sort of stasis since 2008: that we’ve simply been getting more and more Iran Mans throughout the years.
Because the Marvel movies have not “maintained” a single thing in the decade or more that they have been released into theaters. They have frequently and radically changed between different genres, tones and styles (The Incredible Hulk with horror, Thor with fantasy, Captain America with period war drama, The Winter Soldier with spy thriller, Guardians of the Galaxy with space opera, Ant-Man with heist movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming with coming of age romantic comedy, Doctor Strange...
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"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift