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Where Do the Limits Lie on the Comic Book Multiverse?

The MCU might have lifted the bar for great comic book adaptions, but at the same time, it opened more than a few cans of worms. To further a mixed metaphor, the double-edged sword of the extremely popular shared continuity comes with the inevitable raising of the stakes. It makes sense that each hero has to save the world, but to keep viewers engaged, each new major challenge needs to be at least as dangerous as the last.

From threats to the planet come threats to the galaxy, the universe, the timeline, and the multiverse. Both the Marvel and DC properties have taken this route, and in doing so put themselves in a precarious situation for the future. So what are the advantages of taking this approach, and what trouble could it introduce in the long term?

A United Love

The most obvious strong point of taking the multiverse route is that it gives comic book properties room to explore so many forms of media. Comic books are a landscape filled with different iterations of characters, from DC’s continuous reboots like the New 52 to Marvel’s multiverse with additions like Ultimate Marvel and even Marvel Zombies.

The wider the spread, the more fans get to embrace and love, and this ties into films too. Spider-Man: No Way Home brought back Toby Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-men, and The Flash returned Michael Keaton’s and George Clooney’s Batmen into the limelight. Paid the proper respect, it lets us recapture the love we have for these properties.

Outside of passive media, this constant reinvention and exploration of new versions also lend comic books well in more interactive forms. As we become familiar with the base ideas of a property, it becomes easier to put a spin on old ideas, and other industries have shown off how well this works.

The online casino industry, for example, has found considerable success in putting new spins on well-known existing formulas. Online slot games are the most famous examples, with titles like Declaration of Independence and Bass Boss contributing to a simple formula that finds freshness through exploring new ground. On mobile or desktop, like films on movies and TV, taking up different mediums further increases just how much experimentation can be made, and the lifespan media experiences.

Finding Future Fatigue

The more popular a media property is, the more that big studios will want to embrace it. Earning more than $28 billion, the MCU finds itself among some of the most profitable of all time. Fans love it, and studios love to make money, which drives the inevitable problem of fatigue. There reaches a point, eventually, where the constant high stakes and similar formula will begin to wear on us. This problem could be most pronounced in the MCU, as it reaches further into more niche characters as the former main actors increasingly pass on the more famous roles.

All Marvel Cinematic Universe Teaser Pos” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by AntMan3001
Ultimately, the line of when a series becomes a complicated and inappreciable mess will vary by individual. Some of us have already reached that point, while others never well. For the moment, at least, most of us can still find enough to love about comic properties, both in visual media and beyond. As for when the evitable next series of reboots will occur, that much is just a question of time.

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