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Can Valiant Entertainment's Cinematic Universe Really Succeed?

The potential of the Valiant Entertainment Cinematic Universe may all hinge on one film.

The upcoming Bloodshot movie has a lot riding on its potential success, namely an entire universe full of other characters. Initially meant to be the second movie in a cinematic universe based on Valiant Comics characters, it's now the first, with any potential for continuation resting on its performance. The long-planned connected universe does have things going for it in its favor, such as an alternative tone compared to its direct competition, smaller budget necessities, and narratively diverse characters. Other things may hold it back, however, namely the inability of most other studios to create successful movie universes. With all the weighs for and against it, where can the Valiant Cinematic Universe land when compared to other similar but failed ventures?

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Where Valiant Can Succeed

As shown in the trailer for Bloodshot, many of the more popular Valiant characters are a lot harder-edged than, say, Captain America or Spider-Man. This would make the universe stand out compared to Marvel Studios' tried and true, more family-friendly formula. Though this is already how Valiant characters are in the comics, the general audience sees these characters as fairly blank slates. This would also deter the tonal backlash received from initial entries in the DC Extended Universe, in which characters such as Superman were placed in far darker stories than usual. This could make the films for the characters a good alternative, and broaden the scope of the superhero movie genre, similar to the recent Joker.

The characters themselves also offer more of this tonal variety. Characters such as Bloodshot and Ninjak lend themselves to hardcore, pulse-pounding and (possibly) graphic action. Harbinger would offer more traditional superhero stories, while Quantum and Woody could go the comedy route. There's also the epic fantasy adventure of X-O Manowar, and the supernatural horror of Shadowman. While Marvel arguably also has a similar diversity in the genres of its characters, they have typically failed to capitalize on this, leading to their accusations of being cookie-cutter. Though the set pieces for Valiant movie adaptations would be by no means cheap, they'd also more than likely be far less costly than larger Marvel blockbusters, meaning that they'd also require less of a profit to be successful.

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How Valiant Could Fail

Hellboy (2019)

 

There are still several factors that could keep the fledgling cinematic universe from growing to its full potential. For one, very few studios have been able to replicate the success that Marvel's shared cinematic universe has had. And direct rival DC/Warner Bros. is only now steering its cinematic ship into generally well-received waters, and seems to be backing somewhat off of a gung-ho shared universe, anyways. Similarly, attempts such as the Godzilla based Monsterverse, and to a much greater extent, Universal's Dark Universe ranged from disappointing to outright failures. There's also the recent Hellboy reboot, which was a monumental flop and failure, canceling any and all plans for the teased sequel. The Valiant Cinematic Universe may share a similar fate, especially given its more direct competition with Marvel.

There's also the rights situation. Initially, the Valiant Cinematic Universe was to be heralded by a Harbinger movie, with Bloodshot coming second. Those plans changed, however, and to make matters worse, Harbinger recently switched distributors from Sony to Paramount. This means that even if Bloodshot is successful, tying it together with another studios' movie would more than likely not sit well with the bean counters. The aforementioned Monsterverse is mostly distributed by Warner Bros., but Kong: Skull Island was distributed through Paramount. This shows where different studios, namely Paramount, would be willing to work together to bring these characters on the screen, but it is still a wrench in the machine.

Having characters that the general audience has no preconceptions about could work in the Valiant characters' favor, but it may also be a deterrent. Audiences may not feel like putting proverbial effort into following another connected universe, especially one with such relatively no-name characters. It may come off as a cheap attempt to ape Marvel's (and to some extent DC's) success, riding the current wave of comic book movie hype by using comparatively cheap properties for a quick buck. A connection to Bloodshot may generate extra interest, but only if that movie is successful first. For such a relatively street-level anti-hero, it seems that the fate of the Valiant Cinematic Universe is truly resting on Bloodshot's shoulders.

Directed by Dave Wilson (VFX Supervisor for Avengers: Age of Ultron) with a script by Eric Heisserer (Arrival) and Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare), Bloodshot stars Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce and Toby Kebbell. The film is slated to arrive on February 21, 2020.

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