Hide your cherished movies, books, TV shows, and toys. Hollywood has caught universe-building fever. And no franchise is safe.
Ever since Marvel made billions of dollars building interwoven film franchises that brought together dozens of its comic-book characters, movie studios have been keen to copy the blockbuster-movie model.
The 64-year-old James Bond film franchise maybe the latest to be re-invented in Marvel’s image. Jeff Sneider of the Hollywood-insider site The Tracking Board recently tweeted that the Broccoli family, which produces the James Bond films, is thinking of delving into other parts of the 007 universe.
That means we could see stories about other 00 agents, or characters like Bond’s pal Felix Leiter and nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, as the Playlist first reported. There are plenty to choose from, from author Ian Fleming’s numerous 1950s and ’60s-era spy novels and short stories about 007, to the 25 films that have been made about the MI6 agent.
It’s been two years since the last Bond film, and no new movie—or Bond actor—has yet been announced.
Spectre, the most recent Bond movie starring Daniel Craig, made an attempt to extrapolate on an ancillary character’s backstory. It exposed Blofeld as Bond’s foster brother and linked him to the villains of the previous three movies. While it did open up the possibility that “it’s all connected,” the tweak to the decades-old character made the Bond world seem oddly small. The Broccolis would be wise to avoid any attempts at world building that center too much on Bond and his past.
Universe building came naturally to Marvel. Its characters already had their own cascading comic-book franchises and rich backstories to draw from. The same goes for the DC Extended Universe of films that followed, which includes Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, and the forthcoming Justice League. And, to some degree, for Star Wars, which was expanded upon in comic books, cartoons, and novels—though much of that lore has been scrapped from the theatrical canon.
But other franchises that were not built that way have still gone—or are now trying to go—the Marvel way.
There is a live-action Transformers movie-verse, based on the popular children’s toy, that’s been especially successful abroad in places like China.
Warner Bros. and JK Rowling are in the midst of creating a cinematic universe set in Harry Potter’s magical world, starting with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The movie, based on a textbook that the Hogwarts students used in the original book and film series, is expected to have four sequels that will take place throughout the broader wizarding world and chronicle the early lives of the textbook’s author, Newt Scamander, and familiar characters like Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald.
Universal is also using its The Mummy reboot, starring Tom Cruise, to kickstart a Dark Universe based on legendary Hollywood monsters, like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, and Van Helsing.
And Nintendo plans to make movies around its popular video-game franchises, like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers. (It has not said which characters it will adapt for the big screen.)
Whether they can all achieve the same success that Marvel has had remains to be seen. US audiences have grown tired of certain mega franchises, but Wonder Woman, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the Rogue One standalone movie set in the Star Wars universe are proof that the right movie can pull through.
And the beloved Bond franchise has proven time and time again that it can find an audience.