Joe Russo, the co-director of the smash hit Avengers: Infinity War has advice for studios interested in created a “shared universe” of films. He said, in essence, “Don’t do it.” That might be strange assessment coming from someone who recently scored such a massive hit. The shared Marvel Cinematic Universe has done nothing but make money. Why would the director make an assessment that A shared universe is a bad idea? Simply put, creating a shared universe isn’t easy And can set the stage for losing a lot of money.
Actually, Russo went a little further in his assessment. He pointed out that Marvel Studios didn’t start out with a massive shared universe strategy from day one. The shared universe developed after the success of a series of films. Also, audiences basically demanded a shared universe. They wanted complex storytelling in new films. They didn’t want to see any rehash. So, a shared universe grew naturally as part of a progression of new films and sequels.
Universal Studios and DC Entertainment both ignored these truths and decided to craft a massive shared universe without ever testing the waters to see if audiences wanted one. No real appetite exists for Universal’s reboot of its classic horror properties. Universal tried twice to launch a pilot for the horror universe and stumbled.
And then there’s the DC Extended Universe. Almost every film produced under the DCEU banner has been a disappointment. This shared universe was also launched without actually determining whether fans wanted one.
Russo understands what fans want from their entertainment experience. At the very least, the fans want to be treated with respect. Rushing to produce a dozen films and throwing them out into theaters doesn’t exactly meet the definition of respect. Audiences become treated as nothing more than commodities. Studios should not be surprised that audience responses to such treatment is cold indifference.