Monday, May 15, 2017

Musical Monday - Iron Man Theme

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 was released just a few weeks ago and has been raking in cash at the box office. It was the fifteenth movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be released, and we are going to get two more - Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok - before the end of the year, with several more scheduled in the next few years. The combined gross box office of the series is somewhere slightly north of eleven and a half billion dollars thus far. At this point, it is reasonable to expect that we will see movies set in this shared cinematic universe released for the foreseeable future.

It is almost hard to believe, but the movie that started this all, the first Iron Man movie, was only released nine years ago, in May of 2008. And while in retrospect it seems inevitable that the sprawling Marvel movie franchise would emerge from that beginning, at the time it was very much a risky gamble. One has to remember that before 2008, Iron Man was considered to be one of Marvel's less marketable heroes - they only owned the rights to Iron Man (and the rest of the Avengers) because no one was interested in buying them when Marvel was offering the live action rights to their various characters at fire sale prices in the 1990s. There were probably a fair number of people who had heard of Thor and Captain America, but does anyone really think there was a crowd clamoring for movies about them to be made?

Not only that, the notion that these movies would all be connected was almost radical in conception. Sure, there had been movie series before - the Star Wars movies all followed on one another (or in the case of the prequels, happened before the others), and the Lord of the Rings and X-Men movies has also been successful as movie series. Plus, there is the incredibly long-lived Bond movie franchise as well. But all of those movies told the story of more or less the same group of people in their continuing adventures. Every Bond movie features Bond, and for most of their run, the same M, Q, and Moneypenny. The Lord of the Rings movies all tell the story of a single group of people as they fight a war against the forces of evil. And so on. The Marvel movies, on the other hand will focus on one character and their supporting cast for a movie, and then skip over to an almost entirely different set of characters in the next, and yet a third group in the next, only every now and then having everyone get together for a big joint adventure and go their separate ways. Even though they are part of this "shared universe", the Guardians of the Galaxy have now appeared in two movies, and have yet to join up with anyone else in the movie series yet, and we probably won't see them do so until after the next three movies. This is a style of movie making that really has never been tried before, and the fact that it worked so well kind of serves to obscure just how unprecedented it is.

And it started with Iron Man. A movie about a character who was decidedly second-tier in marketability and starring an actor who was a bargain to secure because of his own issues. From this unlikely seed grew the juggernaut that we see today. Did anyone predict this back in 2008? Could anyone have predicted this in 2008?

Previous Musical Monday: Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass
Subsequent Musical Monday: Avengers Theme

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