Why Seth Rogen Sees Marvel as His Biggest Competition: ‘That Is the Benchmark that People Expect!’

For nearly two decades, Seth Rogen has been a consistent presence on the big screen. First as a supporting player in movies such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the actor has become a writer, producer, and director. So he knows a thing or two about making hit comedies. Now Rogen has surprisingly called out the Marvel Cinematic Universe as his main competition.

Seth Rogen at the 33rd American Cinematheque Award Presentation
Seth Rogen at the 33rd American Cinematheque Award Presentation | Amy Sussman/FilmMagic

Seth Rogen keeps making comedies amid the genre’s perceived struggle

Hollywood is a very different place than it was in the early 2000s. Sequels, reboots, and shared universes have conquered the industry. Amid the turn toward big-budget tentpoles, comedies have been relegated to streaming services. Yet, Rogen has stayed as busy as ever. In a recent interview with TotalFilm (via GamesRadar), he opened up about his process.

“What’s funny is, I’ve been told for the last 10 years that mid-size comedies are dying,” Rogen said. “Yet, throughout that time, luckily we’ve been able to release enough mid-size comedies that have done well that they keep allowing us to make them. … But then every once in a while we’ll have a Neighbors that does really, really, really well.”

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Why Marvel has changed the way Rogen makes his own movies

Considering the type of movies Rogen makes, most moviegoers might not initially consider the MCU to pose much of a threat. But as it turns out, Marvel often works within the very same genre as Rogen hits like This Is the End and Long Shot, Rogen told Total Film.

Something that me and [producing partner] Evan [Goldberg] talk about a lot is how Marvel movies are comedies. Thor: Ragnarok is a comedy. Ant-Man is a comedy at its core. … There are $200 million comedies out there, and so that’s something, as a comedic filmmaker, to be aware of. That is the benchmark that people expect! If you’re going to make a big huge comedy, just know that your competition is like Marvel. Not to say you should not make those types of films, but know that’s what audiences are seeing, and that, when you see those movies in theatres, they are playing like comedies. They are legitimately funny and star comedy stars.

Rogen certainly has a point. The MCU has always skewed toward being light entertainment. Even movies like Avengers: Endgame with more dour moments make time for character-based comedy. Given the mainstream popularity of the Marvel movies, it’s a fair conclusion that audiences are getting their comedy fix with their superhero epics.

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What is the future of comedy movies in a world dominated by streaming?

Moreover, Rogen’s point about the MCU being his main comedy competition raises the question of what the future of comedy will be. For Rogen, he consciously aims to offer a different experience for audiences that is “gratifying in another way.”

Recent Rogen productions such as Good Boys and An American Pickle don’t feature superheroics. But Rogen hopes they resonate in a more relatable way with viewers. Perhaps such a grounded approach will become even more prevalent comedy filmmakers adjust to the rise of streaming services.