Master of Arts (MA)
Carey L. Martin
cinematic universe, disney, marvel, media franchise, storyworld, transmedia
Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication
Menard, Drew, "Entertainment Assembled: The Marvel Cinematic Universe, a Case Study in Transmedia" (2015). Masters Theses. 354.
As technology has made the world smaller, with media consumption increasing exponentially, consumers expect their entertainment worlds to be larger. With one of the most successful film franchises of all time to its name, Marvel Entertainment is not only a leader in the box office, it is an innovator in its use of world building in storytelling. It is no secret that the films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are set within the same fictional universe. Furthermore, Marvel has incorporated a serial television series into this grand narrative and incorporated secondary elements, including short films and comic books, in order to take audiences deeper. This method resembles an emerging topic of interest in communication studies, that of transmedia storytelling (often referred to simply as transmedia). Transmedia, briefly, is the telling of a story across multiple media channels where each individual narrative has the ability to stand-alone and yet, makes a worthy contribution to the grand narrative. On its own, any transmedia installment may be enjoyed by a casual consumer, however, the consumption of all installments, across media channels, provides a more enriching experience.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which Marvel has applied the principles of transmedia to its Cinematic Universe, to investigate how strongly it tied its various media installments together into one compelling, overarching grand narrative. To accomplish the purpose of this study, as is more robustly explained in the methodology chapter, a thorough evaluation of the MCU's various installments was conducted, searching for an assortment of storytelling elements, as described by transmedia experts as key components of a compelling transmedia venture. These elements serve as connections between the separate installments of a transmedia narrative.
This study found that the MCU is indeed saturated with connections between its individual stories, across all media platforms. This evidences the grand extent to which Marvel has crafted a transmedia universe. In short, this study finds that not only is Marvel a leader in terms of box office success, it is a narrative innovator, a frontrunner in the emerging realm of transmedia storytelling.