With the Marvel Cinematic Universe dominating the box office for the past decade, creating a shared universe has become the number one priority for many studios. And it’s clear why: a cinematic universe can provide fans with multi-layered looks at their favorite characters, with arcs spanning over multiple movies. The possibilities seem endless, with filmmakers given large scope to explore the universes they’ve been given the reigns to.
Sadly, however, every franchise can’t be the MCU, and often times these attempts fall flat on their faces. From not understanding the roots of the franchise, to just straight overconfidence in the IP, there are many reasons why so many studios can’t seem to get their cinematic universes off the ground. Often times, a lack of understanding why the MCU works so well in the first place is the issue, with studios so eager to have their very own Avengers, they skip over the important stepping stones to get there.
Some of the attempts on this list do have successful and solid movies in their line-up, but we’re not looking at the quality of specific movies. Rather, we’re looking at the feeble attempts that these studios took to establish a cinematic universe without precedent or need.
10. The Amazing Spider-Man
Oh boy, what were Sony thinking? It may be hard to believe, but back before Tom Holland was a staple of the MCU, Sony were trying their hand at creating a cinematic universe off the back of The Amazing Spider-Man movies. The plan was a mess from the get-go. Sony planned to release The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to critical and box office success, and after this, get to work on a sequel and a movies centered around the Sinister Six, Venom, and Black Cat. The catch: they could only use the Spider-Man characters they had the rights to.
If this sounds crazy to you, you’d be right. Sony, however, felt the opposite. They had so much confidence in the plan that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 essentially became one big advert for the next few films, with sub-plots established that saw no pay off. Fans were promised that after TASM2 they would be treated multiple sequels and spin-offs that would explain all the loose ends established by the movie.
Of course, they never would. TASM2 became both the lowest grossing and most critically derided movie featuring the character. Turns out that creating a film that has no identity of its own and is just all set up doesn’t work, who knew!? On shaky footing with the license, Sony saw no other option than to allow the character to be featured in the MCU, and the rest is history.