Hulk smashing box-office records with an extremely rare A+ rating on CinemaScore, Marvel's The Avengers is the culmination of over six years of unprecedented commitment and risk taking. This isn't a movie review, but I highly recommend you run out and see this thing for yourself.
But it does bring to mind a few things that I believe are important for Eve Online. As we spiral towards a decade of our favorite MMORG, the lessons learned in bringing an entire team of Superheroes to the big screen might be worth taking a look at from our perspective.
This might seem like a reach. But truth happens to be universal ( or in this case Disney). So let's take a look at some of the reasons for The Avengers success in light of New Eden.
I remember walking out of seeing Jurassic Park for the first time with my friends. As usual the immediate conversation was, "how did you like it?" My reaction may have been unusual, "This is going to change Superhero movies forever." In fact, back in 1997 I wrote an essay on the subject for an Internet Magazine I was doing freelance for at the time:
"Just as CGI technology has rapidly changed the face of Science Fiction, Horror and Action genres, another revolution is approaching. And it's approaching faster than a speeding bullet. The next revolution, and the one I've been waiting for since I was 5 years old, will be in the new crop of "SuperHero" films. When the revolution will actually happen, the quality that it will happen at and the product that will carry it into the mainstream, are yet to be determined. What is known is that it is here. It is here in it's infancy, it's pure beginnings, but it has started."
The technology simply wasn't available before to tell a true SuperHero story. We were stuck with two guys in tights slugging it out, suspended from wires and trapped in limited thinking story lines that never approached the ones in the actual comics.
Jumping the shark on technology is dangerous. As we all saw last Summer, the same holds true for Eve. It is important to utilize the state of the art when and where it is appropriate, but only doing so when the time is right. Taking the time to build up to it is critical. Imagine how silly The Avengers would've been if it had been released just ten years ago.
2. Passionate Creative
The inescapable truth is that genre works only when people that care and are passionate about the material are in charge. And not just the Director or a few others, but the entire chain of command. Marvel's success came about because Marvel took control of its own properties, put people in charge that gave a shit about the material and then hired the right people for the right job. It hasn't been perfect, nothing ever is, but it has been successful.
The lesson here for CCP is clear. Keep the people that care about the property in charge of making decisions about the property. The fire mustn't be replaced by a "just business" attitude. Certainly business decisions play a role, we are not simple-minded, but passion about the material is critical to long-term success.
3. Focus on your Core
Christopher Nolan understands this. So does Joss Whedon. Keep the focus on the core elements that make your creative product successful in the first place. The Avengers succeeds because people want to see their SuperHeroes being super-heroic. The film is unashamed of its own inherent silliness. Take for example the Heli-Carrier. It would have been an easy call to settle for changes when it came to this bit of insanity, a FLYING Aircraft Carrier? C'mon. No one would have blamed them for removing this from the film. But they didn't. They embraced the silliness because it is in the comics, it represents the inherent silliness of the material. It is core.
What is core to Eve? Internet Spaceships. As we've seen since last Summer, when CCP focuses on its core, the results are nothing less than impressive. Certainly more will be coming from WiS, but the focus needs to remain on this core material.
There are other lessons as well, but best to keep this post manageable. The Avengers is truly the first real Super-Hero movie in which SuperHeroes were allowed to be Super, to inhabit a story as big as they are. In many ways, Eve is also a story about Super-Heroes, about eternal beings with amazing powers. Except in our case, those special beings are us.
With great power comes great responsibility.