MCU Copycatting #5: Valiant Entertainment

Recap:

Marvel revolutionizes the superhero film genre with their shared cinematic universe. They make great, big, heaping piles of money. Everyone else wants to do the same thing now. Thus, copycatting. The superhero race was already long running, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe made everyone change their game, sometimes mid-step.

Now we have Marvel leading the pack from way out in front, while Fox is surging forward after lagging behind for awhile, Sony is still lagging but has hitched onto Marvel’s coattails, with DC far behind them all, but Universal is still back at the starting line, and facing backwards, so definitely in last place.

What’s there to add to that messy melee?

Well, there are comic book studios who deal in superheroes besides the two titans, Marvel and DC. They may be often overshadowed, true, not dissimilar to small David standing before Goliath. This does not make their heroes and stories any less valid for the big and small screens.

For instance: Valiant Entertainment.

Valiant_logo_newFirst thing I want to say about Valiant: I know nothing of them. I don’t recall reading or even seeing any of their work anywhere, though I’m certain I must have at some point. The most I can vaguely recall is hearing a name, a title, here and there. I know they’re successful, that they had a great deal of notoriety in the 90’s, and I read that they have a library of over two thousand characters, which is no small thing. Also, they were apparently begun by a former Marvel editor-in-chief, so it’s no surprise they want to get in on the cinematic universe business.

Now, Valiant’s biggest advantage is the same as their greatest weakness. Being less renowned in the mainstream media and spotlight, they have something none of the big-time powers have: a blank slate. They don’t have to erase anything that’s happened like Fox did in Days of Future Past, or risk overpopulating a franchise with reboots like Sony and Spider-Man, or work against a history of lesser works like DC (I am, of course, exempting the Dark Knight trilogy and the original Superman movies from that statement). For most of the world, we are being introduced to their characters, their world, for the very first time.

That is a powerful advantage.

As an amateur storyteller and critic, I know the benefits of a clean slate, but I also know the danger. All of the above once had clean slates, and not all of them did a particularly good job with them. Now, however, they have an audience of fans awaiting the next adventure in rapt anticipation. In entering the race, Valiant is making to make their debut in direct competition with the established big boys on the block. That is a bold, aggressive move. It may also be a little insane, but there must always be a little madness to the method, ya know? Else what is life for? 😉

"Sanity is overrated."

“Sanity is overrated.”

So, to make the most of this advantage, and to cultivate a loyal fan base virtually from scratch, Valiant needs to keep tight control of it’s properties. The last thing they want is to make Marvel’s ancestral mistake and let multiple competing studios have a slew of their characters and then do a crappy job with them! From what I’ve gleaned off the internet, that tight control seems to be part of Valiant’s plan.

Which, I believe I’ve mentioned, multiple times, the importance of having a plan. Not a bunch of things thrown together by the marketing department. An actual, concrete plan. This is what Marvel did right in launching the Avengers into the movies, and this is what no one else has done right. If Valiant is working so hard to keep control of their work, this tells me they are thinking of the future, and of making money in the long term, which bespeaks a plan at work. There is method to their madness, then, and this makes me more optimistic from the get-go.

Also, while I mentioned competing directly with the big boys, they seem to be doing so on different terms than usual. While the heroes of Marvel and DC are shining around the world, there is no doubt that they’re American creations, crafted to appeal to the crowd at home and then shipped overseas. Valiant intends to appeal to the international audience of seven billions people from the very start as well. As ignorant of their cast as I am, I am uncertain of how globally diverse it may or may not be, but one quick Google search shows me that at least one of their foremost heroes seems to be wearing the Japanese flag, much as Captain America wears ours. This is a promising sign, I hope, of further diversity. I mean, part of why I liked Pacific Rim was how international the cast was in representing all of humanity struggling for survival.

They certainly have a large enough cast for international appeal!

They certainly have a large enough cast for international appeal!

But whether or not the cast is international, Valiant aims to make their cinematic universe be so. Instead of facing the giants at home before going international, Valiant has been busy securing deals with DMG Entertainment, based in Beijing and partially behind Iron Man 3, to create films and television shows intended for global consumption. Not only does this give Valiant a foot in the international door, but an at-home friend for marketing in China and developing interest in their properties amongst a billion potential customers, who are neighbors to billions more.

Random analogy: in demonstrating the vociferous appetite of a school of piranhas, what would have more effect, a group of ten or a school of one hundred?

Not to make it sound as if Valiant were ignoring America. In fact, part of their effort involves partnerships with Sony on multiple films.

Ah-ha! Sony may be hitching onto Marvel’s wagon in order to stay in the race, but they’re working to start up an effort independent of Marvel at the same time! That is a good move, and one which may keep them from becoming a foot-note to Marvel’s success. Universal could learn something from that: if you don’t have any superheroes at your disposal, then go and find new ones!

Between DMG and their various partners, including Sony and the Sean Daniel Company, Valiant is out to produce films and shows for titles such as Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, and probably more. Sony, in particular, will be producing Bloodshot, following a shape-changing super soldier brought back from the dead, and Harbinger, following a young psychic runaway, with the two crossing paths in Harbinger Wars. It’s an effort which should start hitting screens sometime in 2017, and could prove most lucrative.

What DO you call a random group of freaks?

What DO you call a random group of freaks?

However, as I look at the lineup, I see one small wrinkle in Valiant’s plan: I see no single name for any group of them working together. Perhaps I am just ignorant of such, but as the first major crossover film I see is titled Harbinger Wars, this would indicate a lack of any such name.

It’s a small, subtle weakness, but we can conjure up all sorts of associations just by saying “Avengers” or “X-Men” or “Justice League.” The ability to categorize all sorts of different names and titles under one word or phrase which can resonate with the public at large is, I think, a great part of why Marvel and DC became the giants they are. Heck, they’re the two most famous names in comics and superheroes. In fact, Marvel formed the Fantastic Four and the Avengers in direct answer to DC’s formation of the Justice League. That tells me there is a certain power in having a simple name to refer to something large and complex. What are we going to nickname Valiant’s cinematic universe? Harbinger?

That said, and perhaps it’s making a mountain out of a molehill, I am looking forward to seeing what Valiant creates with this all new work of theirs. All things considered, the potential here is limitless. Depending on how they do things, especially the stories they tell, they could very well prove the true dark horse to compete with Marvel! It all depends on how they manage to make use of that clean slate, and hook the audience with their first film!

This could be the beginning of a new wave, of seeing all the independent publishers entering the cinematic spotlight!

"We will pave the way."

“We will pave the way.”

Which, I will muse more about later! 😉

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11 Responses to MCU Copycatting #5: Valiant Entertainment

  1. swanpride says:

    If they don’t have a team up name, they could simple call the movie (or the group) “Valiant”. There, problem solved.

    Like

    • Good thought. I doubt they’ll do that, but good thought. I mean, Marvel didn’t call the Avengers “the Marvels” or anything like that, ya know? Though they and DC do both have “Captain Marvel” characters… hmm.

      Like

      • swanpride says:

        No, but Marvel puts “Marvel” in front of the title of all his TV shows that there is no confusion that they belong to their MCU. Having Valiant in the title would be a good move because I think the name of the company is more recognizable than the heroes in itself, and it sounds good for people who have no idea what this is about.

        Like

      • You know, I really do like having someone I can talk to about, for instance, superhero team names and franchises. Real life example: something MCU related comes up in conversation, and my step-dad is all, “Is that the one with like Iron Man and… uh…” and I provide “The Avengers.” “Yeah.” “Yep.” Or I’m talking DC or X-Men or anything like that, and it’s the same question, same exchange, only with me saying “No, that’s such-and-such.” (insert image of me banging my head against wall) I can only imagine when the Valiant movies start coming out. (hey, “Valiant movies” DOES roll off the tongue! sweet!) I love the guy, and he’s good to my mom, but oy vey! LOL

        Like

      • swanpride says:

        I know that feeling. It is hard to be a geek sometimes. At least I have some friends who do watch the movies, but none of them are as invested in them as I am.

        Like

      • swanpride says:

        You know, you could tell me what you think about this:
        http://archiveofourown.org/works/3452657/chapters/7573451

        I tried to make it as good as possible, but I am not sure if it is possible to follow my reasoning.

        Like

      • This is pretty impressive! Honestly, I wouldn’t have even known where to begin such a cohesive timeline, let alone be able to keep track of so much! Wow!

        There is only one small detail towards the end I’m considering… I’m not sure I’m even remembering this right, but I seem to recall Captain America saying something in Age of Ultron… did he say he was 97 in that movie? I could swear he did, but I’m not sure. That could wrinkle things a bit, as we have a definitive point there where AoS season 2 coincides with AoU right at the end of the season… but, then again, that would also mean more than, say, a year passed between Winter Soldier and AoU, and, thus, more than a year between the AoS season finales.
        And did I make any sense whatsoever there?

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      • swanpride says:

        He mentions his age in The Winter Soldier, and this information I added (it actually confirmed my timeline because it sets the events of The Winter soldier firmly between his birthdays in 2013 and 2014). Honestly, even if there is one tiny detail in AoU which would contradict me, I would still stick to the timeline, because there are multiple moments in AoS which confirm the 2014 timeline, from the mid-terms election over Skye’s age up to Gonzales remarking that Coulson isn’t the same any longer he was two years ago. (I just finished putting together 2014…I didn’t post it yet because I’ll watch Age of Ultron a second time soon).

        Like

      • Dangit! Now you got me doing it! I was just watching Daredevil again, and when Karen says talks about the two years of corruption at Union Allied, I instantly thought, “Is that two years since the events of Avengers?” Of course, you commented on that on your timeline already, but dang! You’re rubbing off on me! 😉

        Like

      • swanpride says:

        lol!

        I plan to watch Age of Ultron again this weekend. After that I’ll post the last part of the timeline.

        If you see something in Daredevil I overlooked, please, tell me. It drives me crazy that I can’t put the events in the regular timeline.

        Like

      • Will do! 🙂 Enjoy AoU!

        Like

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