By now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nearly a $22 billion franchise for Marvel Studios and to be frank, there's likely no end in sight for Avengers and other MCU-based properties. The question remains — why has the MCU been so popular? Is it because of Marvel Studios' continued dedication to its source material? Is it because the production house has taken one calculated risk after another? One recent scientific study appears to have unearthed the answer.
Essentially, it all boils to fans being attracted to the best storytelling, versus a larger cast or dazzling visual effects.
"At a deeper level, stories are so important for humans," researcher Matthew Roughan told TechXplore. "It is fair to say, I think, that stories are what make us human; what differentiates us from the rest of the natural world. We would really like to make a contribution to understanding how and why that is so."
Roughan worked with his colleagues Lewis Mitchell, Tobin South, and a team at the University of Adelaide to use ecology-based methods to come up with a result. As Roughan points out, the movies with the biggest casts have made Marvel Studios the most money, though he and his team are cautious to directly attribute the film's larger profits to sprawling casts.
"The biggest surprise for us was that the effective cast size is correlated with the profitability of the movies, with a bigger role-call translating in bigger profits," Roughan said. "However, you have to be very careful about such results. What we observe is only a correlation—we can't get causation from that. We think the true reason for the correlation isn't just that audiences like bigger casts. The real reason is part of the uniqueness of the MCU."
"I think we are just scraping the surface here," the scientist reflected. "What makes a movie or a franchise work is tremendously complex, and you cannot undervalue the contributions of the brilliant directors, actors and other artists who created these movies. Historically, media analysis has been in the hands of social scientists, who analyze the human pieces of the puzzle, identify tropes, and describe how we feel about movies."
What's your favorite of the four Avengers movies? Share your thoughts on the comments below or by tweeting me at @AdamBarnhardt to chat all things MCU!
Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home are now both currently in theaters while Captain Marvel is available wherever movies are sold.