MARVEL-MCU VS. STAR WARS: A battle over cultural relevance
In a recent podcast on the Raw Live Unedited Network (rawlivepod.com) one host (Rich aka. El Sinestro) declared that the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a cinematic universe that has yet to hit it's teenage years, was more culturally relevant that Star Wars, the nearly 42 year old pop-culture juggernaut. As a huge fan of both I was torn... wait, who am I kidding? There is no competition.
Avengers Endgame was a MASTERPIECE. Without a doubt, a cinematic marvel (pun intended). The culmination of a well-thought out, (nearly) perfectly executed plan that has financially taken down nearly every movie record made ($2,294,806,419 as of May 9, 2019) with the ease of a snap from Thanos's gauntlet adorned hand. THAT is a staggering number.
This is a fact that is not being questioned. It will be incredibly difficult for any movie to top that... not impossible... but difficult. None of this is in question. Endgame is the reigning box office champion. However, does the culmination of 11 years of great storytelling and a massive box office haul equal superior cultural relevance? In this nerds humble opinion: "Oh, hell no."
Star Wars is ingrained into the very fabric of pop-culture. Everyone knows the black masked and helmeted visage of Darth Vader; the gentle, furry giant Chewbacca, and the cinnamon roll haired Princess Leia Organa... from the smallest child to the oldest adult, male AND female.
Quotes and references from the Star Wars saga have permeated our culture (not talking China, that's a different story altogether) from movies: Ant-Man, Armageddon, Back to the Future, Captain America (BOTH Civil War and The Winter Soldier), Deadpool, etc. (an extensive list can be found here); to television series: A-Team, Lost, The Office, NCIS (which you KNOW your grandmother watches which means even she probably understands those references)... hell there are too many to list so I'll just say click here to get the full picture. These references and quotes are in such abundance that I had a hard time deciding what to list.
Why is this? Why is this cultural phenomena still going strong after 42 years?
I think there are several reasons:
It's an epic heroes journey tale of a family told over several generations guaranteeing that if you fell in love with the characters you WILL tune in to see what happens to their kids (or parents in the case of Anakin's tale).
The Star Wars saga broke technological ground in movie making, from sound effects to special effects.
Toys. Think about it. Star Wars created the 3.75" action figure. The kids that grew up playing with Luke Skywalker action figures are now making the movies we love. Some of them are now making Star Wars movies... but most are making Marvel movies (just by sheer number - there have only been 4 Star Wars directors since the Disney purchase compared to the 18 or 19 directors that have touched the MCU). I'm sure they were also reading comics... but for this kid - that did both: picking up the Millenium Falcon and flying it through my neighborhood, pretending I was Han Solo, beat reading the adventures of the X-Men and Spider-Man hands down every time.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. I've heard the argument that yes, Star Wars has been relevant for 40+ years, but Marvel Comics have been around - in one for or another - since 1939: It started as Timely Comics in 1939 and did not become Marvel Comics until 1961. 58 years of Marvel as we know it is nothing to scoff at... it's an impressive number... but not years without peril with a near-catastrophic bankruptcy in 1996 to plummeting sales in an over-saturated market. Luckily comic sales in general have been steadily rising in recent years from approximately 805 million in 2012 to over 1 billion in sales in 2018; A significant number of those sales from digital downloads, which - doing nothing for your local comic book store (R.I.P. QBC Comics & Toys in Victorville, California - you are greatly missed) - at least has kept your favorite comic company in business (Marvel's Star Wars line gets the majority of this boys money). Either way the might house of mouse gets all the money!
But, I digress... At this point, in this boys heart, as well as millions of others, Star Wars retains the crown of cultural relevance, which is not to say that in another 31 years, perhaps "I love you 3,000" will be the next "I love you" - "I know."
Somehow I doubt it, but time will tell.