Success the Marvel Way
By Resource and Development Coordinator Ray Sophie, Southern Illinois ’08
—Arnold H. Glasgow
I have seen the Avengers twice already, and would not be opposed to a third showing because it was that awesome. And I can’t wait for more. Sequels, spin-offs, deeper character introductions (let’s go Hawkeye movie!).
I don’t want to discuss the virtues of characters or the teamwork they displayed, nor the concepts of good and evil.
I want to dissect how this movie became so successful with so much at stake.
Here’s why Marvel has been successful long-term: they are passionate about their characters, and they’ve built their empire the right way.
Instead of the quick money grab, which Hollywood is so very prone to doing, they carefully built an audience starting with the foundation of passionate comic book fans.
It took them almost five years to build buzz and excitement for this movie, while many studios would have been impatient and made the movie right off the bat.
Although Iron Man created a slew of new fans, there were nuggets and Easter Eggs strewn about that movie to acknowledge the customers that have built Marvel through the graphic novel industry.
After the huge success of Iron Man, each new Marvel movie introduced characters in a satiating and productive way, allowing the audience to further grow and spend less time on exposition later. Each character and his backstory has been cast and illuminated brilliantly, allowing for a deeper appreciation and contextualization during the Avengers.
Then, instead of hiring the hot name to direct their make-or-break, $200 million production, they hired a lesser known TV guy named Joss Whedon. For those who don’t know, Whedon has a very passionate fan base from such creations as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the short-lived Firefly (another personal favorite). Before Avengers, Whedon had only directed one movie prior, a low budget finale to Firefly named Serenity (which I highly recommend).
So why did Marvel trust such an “inexperienced” director? Because he’s smart, incredibly hard working, and all of his fans are also Marvel’s foundation audience. And Whedon delivered in a way that only he could.
So what does all of this have to do with you as a Fraternity Man?
How about recruitment?
Does your chapter painstakingly prepare the whole year by building a core audience or niche?
Does your chapter rely on the “hot ideas” or does it recruit year round with hard-working and less flashy members?
Do you put the right people in place to succeed?
Do you reward those most passionate in your chapter while simultaneously casting your net wider and wider?
Do you actively network with new organizations and build relationships with new people?
Does your chapter want to create “buzz,” but not put in the effort or time to build it (see timeline from Iron Man to Avengers)?
Does your chapter do it the right way, or the easy way?
Don’t be DC Comics. They have been futilely holding onto the Superman movies made famous by Christopher Reeve in the 1970s. Their only saving grace has been Christopher Nolan, who has re-booted Batman with the Dark Knight series. Sorry DC Comics, you’re only cash cow is going to end this summer.
Don’t let your chapter rely on what has always been done, and what was successful more than a decade ago. Don’t rely on your one rock star member to bail your whole chapter out of recruitment because they are lazy.
Because while DC Comics has relied on short-term success, Marvel has built it for the long haul.
Which one do you want to be?