More often than not, the idea of a crossover is more a cheap gimmick than an actual artistic decision, aimed to capitalize on the popularity of various media characters or properties by lazily combining them into one as some kind of television or film “event.” While they used to be reserved for old Saturday morning cartoons, the old crossover concept has made its way into cinemas in recent years, with cinematic “universes” like those from Marvel and DC Comics.
But some crossovers have been more successful than others. We’ve compiled this list of crossover films that managed to transcend their gimmicky conceit, as well as those that simply fell victim to it.
1. Best: The Avengers
The film that sparked the current crossover craze, The Avengers, is the crowd-pleasing blockbuster that the Marvel cinematic universe was an experiment that worked out, both in terms of content and cash. The film raked in a record-shattering $1.5 million worldwide. Meanwhile, director Joss Whedon brought valuable experience writing for ensemble casts of television characters, using a MacGuffin and a strong, if basic, script to shove all the disparate members of this superhero team into one room and force them to bounce off of each other.
Though many of the CGI-fueled action scenes are indeed thrilling, the key to the film’s success lies in its ability to channel the personalities of all the individual characters (okay, maybe not Hawkeye), making us care about them and laugh with them even in such a relentlessly busy, fun film.