Marvel MCU Movies as a value creating network

The movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are a great example of how networks (in this case, of multimedia texts) create value.

Iron Man (2008) was a pretty good movie. Hulk (2008) wasn’t bad.

Iron Man 2 (2010) and Thor (2011) were rather silly.

Captain America (2011) was fun – but also a bit silly.

There was a bit of crossover between these movies, but not much, until The Avengers (2012 – pretty good) brought the characters together. Around then we were starting to see a kind of chemistry between the films – the old films added weight and interest to the new ones – and the same thing happened in reverse.

People who enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) or Ant-Man (2015) might well go back to see, say, the first Captain America film, and get drawn into the others.

The network really gained value – and the crossovers increased in intensity – in Phase Three with Captain America: Civil War (2016), Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther (2017) and the rest. (Full list here)

It was only Thor Ragnarok (great movie!) that really made me take notice and watch a few more of the films, and share about them with friends. The addition of Spiderman into the web created even further momentum.

The point is this: a network of films is more valuable than the equivalent number of single films.* This was true of Marvel Comics in their heyday, is true of the work of most best-selling authors today… and is true of blog posts. The wider the network, the more likely someone is to stumble into it and find something they like. The more tightly bound the network, the more likely the same person is to move along to another node within it.

Of course, a network is of little use in the absence of something that people find useful or enjoyable… but it’s also true that the best nodes on the network (the Thor Ragnaroks of this world) sprinkle fairy dust on the rest and add to their value.

See also:

* It’s also true that all films and texts exist in a network with each other, but it’s more diffuse

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