The creator of the Cosmonaut Variety Hour YouTube channel, Marcus Turner, loves Spider-Man. So, he re-watched the Sam Raimi trilogy to see how it compares to the latest web-slinger movies, starring Tom Holland.
“These do not hold up,” Turner says in an episode of his video series. “It annoys me that people look at the first two as some sort of superhero Holy Grail when they’re not like really that good anymore.”
That video has 4.8 million views and counting.
The 25-year-old has spent six years building an audience for his channel, where he points out the flaws or overlooked qualities in fictional worlds from popular culture. His two-part series on Spider-Man, for example, has a combined 9 million views. By taking a dive into what viewers love, Turner can provide the type of granular analysis that traditional critics shy away from. In the review of the Raimi trilogy, he pokes fun at everything from the facial expressions of extras in the background to overarching plot themes, all with a deep knowledge of Spider-Man lore.
“I want people to look at the things they think are flawless and be able to laugh at them,” Turner said. Unlike a more traditional review, Turner assumes the people watching are fellow fans. He’s able to discuss spoilers, nitpick on tiny details and engage with his audience on a more informal level. The second part to Turner’s review exploring the Andrew Garfield-era web-slinger has nearly 19,000 comments earnestly discussing the movies.
Turner is still in school while running the channel. After finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida, he’ll focus full-time making videos for Cosmonaut. The channel doubled its number of subscribers in 2018, according to data from Tubular Labs, with well over half a million subscribers to date.
“I did not mean for my channel to blow up as fast as it did while I’m still in school, so I have to kind of juggle that,” Turner said.
Turner published those two Spider-Man videos last spring right as fans were preparing for a golden year in the franchise with a triple-A video game release and two blockbuster movies. He knew people would be hungry for more on Spider-Man, and those videos are now the most popular on the channel. Turner said the channel already had a sizable audience, but he thinks the videos are the biggest reasons the channel grew so much last year.
Turner works with his two friends, Dan Goldberg, 24, and Meghan Sweeney, 24, to operate the channel, talk with fans and brainstorm ideas for videos. Goldberg started working with Turner on the channel in 2015 when they became roommates. Early videos often featured Goldberg and Turner playing video games together as they narrated what was happening, similar to channels such as Lets Play and Videogamedunkey.
Goldberg said he remembers watching a video they did together rack up views while he was on a trip to Europe. In that moment, he said he realized the channel could be a success.
“I was just having a good time playing games with Marcus,” he said. “And, it never really stopped being that.”