The University of Baltimore has decided that there is sufficient demand to offer a film course examining the intricate, interwoven narratives, the skillful marketing techniques and cunning box office strategies based on Marvel Studios’ unified cinematic universe?
It seems that the success of the – until now – relatively unknown box office behemoth Guardians of the Galaxy – which is the biggest grossing film of 2014 – has sparked an interest academically in regards to negating the need to “playing it safe” with stylistically similar films with semi-recognisable characters. Even Iron Man – which was one of Marvel’s first Box Office monoliths, was still considered risky business.
Arnold T. Blumberg – an adjunct faculty member in UB’s Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences – will be teaching the course. Blumberg was noted as saying critically looking at the release strategies and Box Office returns these films, will give a better understanding of the cultural fixation on superheroes. He spoke about the thematic scopes of superhero films and how they incorporate fictional global threats, and other universally novelistic tales that have pressed the comic book-to-film ethos into new territory.
Bloomberg also had this to say about some aspects of what will be involved within the course: “One thing we’ll do is dive into the impact of the Guardians of the Galaxy film, which proved two things: Mainstream movie audiences are not remotely tired of superhero movies; and Marvel Studios can now release a sci-fi adventure that actually features talking trees and raccoons. It’s not that they’re getting away with it—they’ve created a universe in which fans completely accept these developments, and they’re ready for even more.”
Bloomberg also went on to compare the Marvel films to Star Trek and Star Wars, embracing theorist Joseph Campbell’s insight that mythmaking and storytelling are rooted in a fundamental quest for justice, peace, family, and love: “Every generation has a modern media mythology that serves as a framework for entertaining as well as educating about ethics, morality, issues of race, gender, class, and so on,” Blumberg said. “For the past several years, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings have served in that role for tens of millions. When I was younger, it was the first Star Wars series, which I saw in the theater. For me, that saga—along with many other science fiction stories—provided that essential exploration of the hero journey, the struggle of good vs. evil, in a mainstream pop culture context.”
Check the course out at the uni’s site here