Shared Universes Crossover to Mainstream

As the popularity of comic book franchises rise, so do their practices. The concept of a shared universe used to string together multiple franchises together is reaching a phenomenally high level of popularity, as more and more forms of entertainment try to cash in on the trend.

From a writing standpoint, crossovers are great scenarios in which characters bring out unique aspects of themselves by interacting with others. The familiarity to the audience but the alienation of these universes provide an interesting and almost ironic experience to viewers. For so long, properties are recognized as their isolated selves, where the universe revolves around them.

In a way, crossovers also make the universe feel more dynamic and realistic. For example, when Iron Man saves New York City, one can’t help but wonder why Spider-Man can’t jump in and help too. Especially in comic book franchises, where the fate of the entire world is at risk, it seems almost unnatural that only one person is doing anything to try to save the day. Crossovers give a sense of unity between franchises, and constant interaction is what allows it to thrive.

It’s no surprise that crossovers make money. According to IMDb, Marvel’s “The Avengers” grossed $623,279,547 at the box office, literally twice the amount of money “Iron Man” brought in and more than four times the amount “Thor” made.  The crossover event of CW’s “Flash vs. Arrow” had 4.3 million viewers, a million more viewers than an average episode of “The Flash.” The “Super Smash Bros” series is consistently one of the best selling games over every Nintendo system. Crossovers are a fantastic business practice for entertainment.

It’s easy to rely on established franchises to carry the lesser knowns in the crossover. By having two properties mix, it not only brings in fans of the first property, but also gets them interested in the other parts of the crossover as well. America had no knowledge of “Fire Emblem” but because of “Super Smash Bros Melee,” which popularized the characters “Marth” and “Roy”, the next installment of “Fire Emblem” was localized to America.

However, some crossovers lead to disappointment. The “All-Star Team Up” episode on “The Flash” was not so much a crossover, seeing as only two characters from “Arrow” even appeared. Crossovers also limit the amount of screen time for characters. One major example is “Hawkeye” from 2012’s “The Avengers,” who had a whopping 12 minutes of screen time, nearly half of other heroes. And then there’s the debate about the continuity and canon of each franchise, as many logical fallacies can occur in the translation of one character to a different universe. However, “Steven Universe” remedied this in its crossover with  “Uncle Grandpa.” As the two shows carry distinctly different tones, they were allowed to stay without restrictions when the extremely self-aware character “Uncle Grandpa” acknowledged the fact that “none of this is canon.”

Crossovers are even more prevalent in “fandom” culture. Many fans create their own crossovers through fan art or fiction, without having to deal with the mess of ownership or rights.’s crossover section is just as expansive as its general content. When content creators make crossover content, their work can appeal to multiple “fandoms,” thus having their work seen by more people. Specifically, the popularity of “Superwholock,” the crossover of BBC’s “Sherlock”, “Doctor Who” and the CW’s “Supernatural” has grown to almost unhealthy obsession, spreading throughout the entirety of Tumblr. The creators of “Supernatural” have acknowledged this large following, and have placed small “Doctor Who” Easter eggs in recent episodes of the show.

As shown through its popularity, the concept of crossovers are overall well received by audiences everywhere. With the rise of crossover approval, franchises will only become more and more ambitious in their projects. It’s an exciting time for mainstream entertainment, and with crossovers in the mix, it will only raise the dynamic nature of media as a whole.