Fast Company

MARVEL RULES THE UNIVERSE

EVERY COMPANY WANTS TO DOMINATE ITS INDUSTRY THE WAY THE SUPERHERO FACTORY HAS TAKEN OVER HOLLYWOOD. A GUIDE TO FINDING YOUR CAPE AND TAKING FLIGHT.

A giant squidlike creature commands the screen and breathes fire. “The fate of the universe lies on your shoulders,” a voice-over intones, and for the next two minutes, viewers of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teaser trailer are treated to a mashup of exuberant space battles, cool gadgets, and comic vignettes, set to the 1975 power-pop anthem “Fox on the Run.” Marvel, the studio that created the Guardians franchise, posted the trailer online in December, five months before the highly anticipated sequel was due to hit multiplexes. Within 24 hours, the clip, featuring the film’s ragtag superhero vigilantes—a foulmouthed raccoon, a baby tree, and the hunky-but-relatable Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt—racked up 81 million views. Even the song hit No. 1 on the iTunes rock chart. Hearing the news, James Gunn, who cowrote and directed both the first, $773 million–grossing Guardians and its sequel, jumped on Facebook to exclaim, “Holy crap!,” adding that the trailer was “the biggest Marvel Studios Teaser ever! No kidding—I’m, like, floored.”

For Marvel, though, outdoing itself has become something of a regular occurrence. When Guardians Vol. 2 hits theaters on May 5, it will mark the studio’s 15th movie since it started making its own nine years ago, and each one has been a hit. Just as impressive as Marvel’s box-office record (these films have grossed more than $10 billion globally): the billions more in revenue it has generated from toys, merchandise, fragrances, and even cruises (yes, there is a Marvel Day at Sea). Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion, has seen

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