Wednesday, July 24, 2024
InícioUSER EXPERIENCEUX lessons we can learn from the Marvel Cinematic Universe

UX lessons we can learn from the Marvel Cinematic Universe

UX strategies that shaped the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Tony Stark — Iron Man, 2008

It’s hard to believe, but at its prime, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) not only captivated global audiences but also achieved astronomical box office success; just look at “Avengers: Endgame”, which grossed over $2 billion.

Recently, however, it seems as if the essence that once defined the MCU has diminished — akin to Thanos’s catastrophic snap. This decline might partially be attributed to superhero fatigue, but I believe there are lessons to be learned here, particularly when thinking about user experience (UX).

Crafting a new vision for superheroes

1. User-centricity: solving the right problems

We’re all familiar with the MCU’s journey. It was one that began under constraints that turned into a unique opportunity. You see, Marvel sold the rights to some of its most popular characters, leaving them with less-known entities like Iron Man.

Previous superhero films, though popular, often lacked depth and failed to resonate on a personal level (consider the 2005 “Fantastic Four”). Marvel flipped the script by focusing on more human stories, emphasising relatable characters facing real-world challenges. Iron Man, a hero with no supernatural powers but a sharp intellect and a complex personality, was a gamble that paid off spectacularly. One could argue that this situation mirrors that of a startup — recognising and solving a specific problem.

2. Consistency and hierarchy: laying down a solid foundation

Marvel started to distinguish itself by establishing a consistent tone and quality across its films, which was not always the case in the superhero genre. Each movie built on the last, maintaining familiar elements while introducing new elements to keep the audience engaged. This careful layering of narratives created a structured experience that audiences could follow, reminiscent of well-designed user interfaces that prioritise simple and easy-to-use navigation.

UX principles at play

3. Context and user control: engaging through interactive storytelling

Where Marvel excelled was in offering its audience a level of interaction and engagement not commonly found in cinema. By incorporating end-credits scenes and subtle references to a broader universe, they turned passive movie-watching into an active, engaging experience. This strategy respected user control, allowing viewers to engage with the content at different levels of depth.

Mr Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet. — Nick Fury, Samuel Jackson, Iron Man, 2008

4. Accessibility and usability: universal appeal

The MCU’s focus on character development made its heroes accessible and relatable. Stan Lee famously emphasised that superheroes, despite their powers, should exhibit human worries and frustrations. This philosophy ensured that the films were not just about the spectacle but also about the characters’ humanity, enhancing the narrative’s accessibility and the audience’s emotional investment.

The Avengers Assembled — The Avengers, 2012

The secret sauce

5. Anticipation and user experience

Marvel’s strategy created a sense of anticipation and excitement with each release. The breadcrumb trail not only rewarded loyal fans but also attracted new ones curious about the hype. This approach mirrors effective UX design, where anticipating user needs and exceeding expectations leads to a memorable experience.

6. The narrative web

The integration of characters and plotlines across different movies (often highlighted in quotes like Nick Fury’s speech about the Avengers Initiative) showcases a masterclass in creating a cohesive universe. Each film is accessible on its own, but together, they create a rich tapestry that rewards viewers for their continued investment.

Recent struggles and future directions

7. Challenges and adaptability

Post-Avengers: Endgame, the MCU has hit a bit of a snag, perhaps due to a dilution of the original user-centric focus in pursuit of expanding its cinematic universe. This shift serves as a crucial lesson in UX: Understanding and adapting to user feedback is essential, and losing touch with the core audience can lead to disengagement.

What businesses can learn from the MCU

The MCU’s journey offers vital insights into effective UX design that businesses across sectors can apply. The principles of user-centricity, consistency, anticipation, and engagement are universal. Just as Marvel built an empire by focusing on relatable, human stories within a connected universe, companies can create compelling experiences by maintaining a clear focus on user needs and expectations.

“There was an idea, to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more.” — Nick Fury, Samuel Jackson, The Avnegers, 2012

This philosophy applies not only to the Avengers but also to all of us who design user experiences. By focusing on bringing people together and creating something greater than the sum of its parts, we can inspire and engage users in ways that resonate long after the initial encounter. By understanding and implementing robust UX principles, we can all aim to achieve our version of the Avengers Initiative.

Enjoyed this?

Check out my other articles on design.

RELATED ARTICLES