According to the Korean Film Council, Avengers: Endgame (2019) recorded over 10 million viewers in just 11 days, the shortest amount of time since it was released on April 24, 2019. Also, it reached the 13 million viewer mark in 10 years after Avatar (2009), the biggest box-office success in South Korea. South Korea is one of the biggest markets for the Marvel franchise and Marvel has made it a central part of the franchise’s marketing campaigns.
Until the finale of Marvel Studios' "Avengers" series smashing box office records upon its release, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films have been a tremendous success in South Korea, making hardcore Marvel fans since it started with Iron Man in 2008. Responding to this love towards Marvel movies, Marvel has selected Seoul as the host city for press events and they held their Asia press conference in Seoul ahead of the Endgame’s release to promote the final Avengers movie which is the 22nd film in MCU after Spiderman: Homecoming (2017), Black Panther (2018), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
Behind this Marvel sensation phenomenon in South Korea, there are three major factors that make people fanatic about MCU franchise and become avid fans who eagerly await the next film in the series: Building its universe, MUC, distinctive hero’s characteristics & humanities, response to social issues, and viral marketing. MCU is the shared universe, centered on a series of superhero films, independently produced by Marvel Studios and based on characters that appear in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The shared universe was established by crossing over its characters into other films in all 22 Marvel films.
As Marvel created Marvel Studios, it attempted to use various lesser known characters from its comic history and made individual films of each character, creating a shared cinematic universe like Star Wars or Harry Potter. Each tells its own distinct story but also connects with other films in a shared universe MCU. After that, Marvel brought these characters together for the crossover film Avengers series. In MCU films, each characteristic hero interacts with other heroes and sometimes they come into conflict. This organic plot gives a lot of pleasure of watching diverse characters in a scene and finding a new side of each hero in a different time and place. This bold strategy is considered one of the biggest factors for the enormous success of Marvel.
Korean enthusiasts are also lured by new characters being created as each new film comes out and MCU universe keeps expanding. They are attracted at the outstanding feats of superheroes such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America and their distinctive personalities. Also, their absorbing action and spectacular visual effects of heroes are attractive to the audience. However, there is more than this that makes them special and unlike other superheroes. It is their imperfections. Superheroes with flaws and problems are greatly different from an ideal and perfect heroes. They are flawed and heroic all at once; They are complex and relatable characters people can relate to, invoking our sympathies. Marvel Comics’ iconic writer Stan Lee who changed the superhero archetype said, “The characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to.” “They would be flesh and blood, they would have their faults and foibles, they would be fallible and feisty, and—most important of all—inside their colorful, costumed booties, they would still have feet of clay” according to Vogue.
Furthermore, Marvel breaks the tradition of superheroes movie in which white men take the initiative and keeps up with the times, meeting the needs of this age such as race and gender issues. Marvel created first black superheroes in Black Panther (2018) and a first female superhero in the lead role in MCU films appeared in Captain Marvel (2019). Sim Gyu-han, reporter of Cine21, commenting about Captain Marvel said that Marvel has a sense of reflecting the sprit of the age in issues related to women and minorities as well as their achievements in movies. He added that there was no sexual objectification, the way female heroes had been exploited in media and unnecessary romance. There was only an independent superhero. Kim Heon-sik, critic of popular culture, said that Hollywood movies only had entertaining elements in the past, but Marvel films combine these with social value like cooperation between minorities, female and superheroes. In addition, Marvel will release new movies featuring Black Widow as a main character and an Asian hero Shang Chi will emerge as a new superhero.
With all these factors combined, Avengers: Endgame made an enormous success and made a new culture that makes spoilers a social problem, not just simple incident. People shared tips for blocking Avengers spoilers from a storm of spoilers in social media and online website. Also, a man was even attacked after shouting Avengers spoilers in front of movie theater. In this situation, directors Joe and Anthony Russo even launched the #DontSpoilTheEndgame campaign on social media to implore Marvel fans not to reveal key details and ruin the experience for others. This spoiler prevention campaign even worked as viral marketing, increasing the interest of the movie and making those who have not watched Avengers series have interest in the movie.
Though people thought that Avengers: Endgame ends Phase Three and wraps up the series of 22 Marvel films, it turned out not to be the case. As Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige at a recent fan event in Shanghai confirmed that it is not the last chapter in Phase Three of MCU and the upcoming Spider Man: Far from Home (2019) will be the final installment of Phase Three, expectations about upcoming Marvel films is increasing.
*Marvel's plans for its films are structured in phases, with each one usually ending with an Avengers crossover movie.