Following the success of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home (FFH), Marvel were incredibly secretive about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Union. What could follow the cinematic event of Endgame, and its epilogue in FFH? The answer, much like Age of Ultron to Avengers Assemble, could only be underwhelming.
The announcement of Black Widow, a film so late that even the Saturday Night Live sketch mocking it is outdated, followed by a host of series’ hidden behind a Disney+ paywall could only underline Marvel’s lack of faith in many of their characters to carry a film. What seemed in Endgame to be a promising future for Anthony Mackie as the new Captain America has been relegated to a streaming show, which given the recent culling of their entire Netflix catalogue does not exude confidence in the character on the part of Marvel.
Watching all these characters get thrown into a format that Marvel have never previously cared for (on a new service with its own costs) uses up a lot of their goodwill, especially with no release date for Disney+ in the UK in sight. While anything with Mahershala Ali is an exciting prospect, unless all you were looking to know about Blade was that it did indeed exist, then Marvel found another way to disappoint. As an opening bid, Marvel hadn’t quite achieved their goal of continuing the hype of Endgame, but they hadn’t entirely failed either.
Their biggest reveal came later, with the news that the new face of Marvel and central figure to the third highest grossing film of the year, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, had been lost. After Marvel’s reported attempt to shift the split in profits of a character they don’t own to be more favourable to them, Sony understandably walked away with Spider-Man and the track record of their own two greatly successful Spider-Man related films from the previous year. Marvel it seemed couldn’t do much more to disappoint. So naturally they released a video in which they treated their audience with more contempt and condescension than a heat warning on a coffee cup.
Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, when speaking to Entertainment Weekly, hit out with incredible statements such as how Spider-Man’s presence in the MCU was ‘never meant to last forever’ and that ‘we told the story we wanted to tell’. This is evidenced of course by their attempts to retain control of Spider-Man, and his presence in five very successful films across the past three years, as well as the two more which reportedly had been in development.
It’s odd to think that less than a year ago, Marvel were adept enough to generate conversation around a film that had neither a title nor a trailer, and now are losing the magic of a behemoth franchise which influenced film more than the splitting into two parts of young adult finales. Marvel needs to realise that they can’t have the best of both worlds – they can’t end a story with finality and expect everyone who turned up to still be invested in the next phase purely because the Marvel logo is slapped on. While of course, Marvel’s goal is profit, it’s sad to see them do it so cynically.
Great power may indeed bring great responsibility, but in this case it is also Marvel’s responsibility to retain and earn their power and image, not to assume that once acquired it can never be lost.
Image Credit: The Walt Disney Company via Wikipedia