What Nigerian Filmmakers Can Learn From The Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 to 3

Feb 19, 2024

After facing bankruptcy in the 1990s, Marvel opted for a fresh strategy—creating movies around lesser-known superheroes, as the rights to their more famous characters were already sold to other studios. This move birthed a series of successful films starting with Iron Man (2008), captivating both critics and audiences alike. Notably, Avengers: Endgame (2019) became the highest-grossing movie until a re-release of Avatar (2009) in China bumped it to second place.

Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios’ president, meticulously planned a cinematic continuity, envisioning the journey up to the fourth Avengers film, Endgame. The question arises: How did Marvel sustain this success without diluting the franchise? There are some lessons Nollywood filmmakers can pick from this story.

 

Character Development

Marvel excels in character development, investing time in unraveling each character’s story. They delve into various dimensions, presenting both heroes and villains as nuanced individuals rather than mere plot devices. This approach paints characters in shades of gray, providing believable motivations for their actions.

Consider Thanos—initially perceived as a genocidal villain in “Infinity War.” However, “Endgame” unveils a different facet, portraying him with reasons behind his actions: to address overpopulation on every planet. Marvel’s writers even approached “Endgame” with the mindset that Thanos was the hero. The lesson for screenwriters is clear: infuse substance into every character, revealing the reasons behind their actions to engage readers.

Marvel Studios Black Panther

Marvel Studios Black Panther (2018)

 

Patience

Marvel spent four years developing characters before launching “The Avengers.” This patience created anticipation, with moviegoers eager to witness beloved heroes unite on screen. As a writer, the MCU teaches the value of avoiding convoluted plots. Some stories span multiple movies, requiring a restrained approach rather than cramming everything at once. Allow the story to breathe, guiding it at its own pace for a more effective outcome.

 

Character Arc

Marvel effectively employs character arcs to enhance relatability. Characters like Tony Stark and Loki undergo substantial transformations across films. Understanding a character’s arc is crucial for impactful storytelling, shaping the narrative in line with the character’s growth.

 

Consistency

Marvel prioritizes consistency, ensuring characters’ actions and lines align with established traits. For instance, Steve Rogers consistently displays resilience and loyalty. This reliability enhances character depth and fosters audience connection.

 

Leaning on Minor Characters

Unlike some scripts where the protagonist monopolizes attention, Marvel distributes meaningful contributions across all characters. Minor characters often shine, contributing significantly to the narrative. In your script, ensure each character brings something valuable to the table, enhancing the movie’s substance.

 

Inclusivity

Marvel’s inclusive approach encompasses various tones and themes, addressing societal diversity realistically. Movies like “Black Panther” and “Ms. Marvel” embrace different social classes, races, and abilities, fostering a sense of belonging for all viewers.

 

In essence, Nigerian screenwriters can draw inspiration from Marvel’s success with the MCU by prioritizing character development, embracing patience, crafting compelling character arcs, maintaining consistency, valuing minor characters, and championing inclusivity. These principles, when applied thoughtfully, can elevate Nigerian cinema to new heights. Share your thoughts, and stay tuned for more screenwriting tips in two weeks!

 

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