The Reign of Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios is the dominant player in Hollywood and global pop culture, having generated almost $30 billion in revenue and remade the entire business of movies and mass entertainment. Yet its origin story is as unlikely as that of any of its beloved superheroes. How did Marvel conquer the world? And will it be able to survive its own outrageous success?
In MCU, culture writers Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards draw on more than a hundred original interviews—with everyone from studio head Kevin Feige to producers, directors, movie stars, writers, and even Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation—to present the definitive chronicle of Marvel Studios and its sole, ongoing production, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They demonstrate that, from the first Iron Man, which released in 2008, the genius of Marvel was its resurrection and modification of Hollywood’s old studio system: it signed up actors for long-term contracts, cultivated trusted staff writers, and brought on a small army of visual artists who sometimes determined the look of a movie before a director was even hired. The result was a string of hits without parallel in the annals of moviemaking. Each film had its own tone and tenor—Marvel played with genre, from the space opera Guardians of the Galaxy to the political thriller Captain America: The Winter Soldier—but each was also part of a larger narrative mosaic. Bought by Disney in 2009, Marvel Studios expanded into TV with the creation of the streaming service Disney Plus—its ambitions onlygrowing.
Spanning the early 1990s to the present, MCU relates many never-before-told stories, including the high-stakes Mar-a-Lago lunch where the idea of Marvel Studios was first pitched. It reveals that, for all its outward success, the studio was forged by near-constant conflict, from the contentious hiring of Robert Downey Jr. to the bitter, internecine battles with the so-called Creative Committee in New York City to the disappointment of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and shocking departures of multiple Marvel executives in 2023. Dishy and authoritative, MCU is the first book to tell the Marvel Studios story in full—and an essential, effervescent account of American mass culture.