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The first trailer for Spider-Man: Far from Home has been released. It’s already amassed millions of views and comments, praising the fun atmosphere and appearance of Mysterio. I can’t tell you much about Mysterio. Usually, when a new character appears, I try to look them up a little bit to see what they’re about. That way I can see the direction the movie may be headed in, and what the character’s powers are. However, after getting a little excited while watching the trailer, I quickly forgot about it. I’ve had zero interest in looking up anything to do with the new Spider-Man movie.
Partly, this is because I have Spider-Man fatigue. We’ve had three different Spider-Men within 17 years who all have sequels. We just had Into the Spider-Verse, a great Spider-Man movie on its own. Not even a year later, we have this one happening. The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to see that after Avengers: Endgame, Marvel may lose some of their momentum.
There are a lot of reasons why the MCU may be in trouble in the coming months. One of them is the obvious ending to the storyline they’ve been building for 10 years. We’ll soon be done with Thanos, and the logical way for things to go would be for a new big bad guy to eventually lead to another climactic confrontation in a few years. It’s not that the MCU has a shortage of villains. They have yet to use great villains like Galactus, for example. However, the film world has some differences that don’t exactly translate from comic books. The biggest would be the reincarnation and reboot of characters. How can we have another Iron Man after Robert Downey Jr.? Will it really be as satisfying to watch Bucky and Sam after Steve is gone? The chances are, most if not all of our original Avengers will die. In a majority of TV and movie films today, killing main characters are a big no-no. It can kill the fanbase and make people less invested. Even introducing new main characters to take over doesn’t necessarily work. The Walking Dead is an example of this, as they’ve gotten less popular in the past year with the original cast dwindling to nothing.
The MCU isn’t immune to this problem. For me, I find it harder to care about a coherent storyline without Thor and Captain America. They’re two of my favorites and I’ve been invested in them for years. The new characters have been introduced so quickly in ensemble movies that they don’t quite have the same gravitas yet. Ant-Man is fun, but he isn’t a huge draw as a character. Dr. Strange is literally Iron Man with magic, down to the story beast in his solo movie. Spider-Man is cool and his movie was great, but again, we’ve had so many Spider-Man movies it’s hard to keep going. The Guardians of the Galaxy only has one more movie, but they feel played out at this point. The second wasn’t as good as the first, and they’re overdoing the jokes with all the characters in that franchise. It’s a toss-up as to what Captain Marvel will offer. I’m excited for it because I love Brie Larson and I trust her as an actress. In the grand scheme of the Marvel universe, I don’t know how exciting it will be. Sure, she’ll help in Endgame, but introducing her a month before it comes out doesn’t bode well for making people fall in love with her to care how she’ll save the day. It runs the risk of feeling like a rushed ex-machina to help our Avengers win the day.
Then there’s Black Panther. The only one I’m truly invested in is the Black Panther. He's probably the only MCU character post-Endgame that I’ll be there for on opening night. He was so well-established in his own movie and worked separately from the MCU. It’s my favorite Marvel movie ever, both within the MCU and out of it. There hasn’t been a superhero movie like his before, which is why his movie made a ridiculous amount of money while also being a great film. Without the original characters, people who have already been with the MCU may not have that same investment anymore. Maybe they will, but there’s no way to know until we see where Endgame leaves us.
Another factor to think of is the rise of the DCEU. It sounds a little far-fetched at this point with the content DC has been putting out the past few years. However, Wonder Woman had a nice solo movie. Aquaman’s movie, though not my favorite by any means, made a lot of money and got a lot of fantastic reviews. Shazam is next up for the DCEU and he looks like a lot of fun. It gives me hope that the DCEU is in for better things. DC was actually the one I was in love with as a child. I watched Batman: The Animated Series religiously. The Justice League cartoon was awesome. I’ve always loved Superman and Batman, and the Teen Titans. I want to see them excel. I want to see my favorite superheroes from my childhood get the movies they deserve. The day I get an updated Superman movie that makes me as happy as the Christopher Reeve version is the day I can safely say DC has won me back over. They haven’t exactly figured it out yet, but they’re obviously learning from Marvel. Once DC figures out their formula, Marvel will finally have a rival. DC has some of the more popular heroes with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. If they get a coherent universe, we’ll get competition, which will hopefully give us better movies.
This leads me to a point I’ve found from retroactively watching a lot of Marvel movies: Marvel needs to up their game. I’ve thought long and hard about it from discussing these films with other people, and a sad pattern comes to light. It’s clear where they’ve gotten complacent with their movies as opposed to when they think outside the box. Movies like Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok are my favorite Marvel movies for a reason. They had directors who were totally out of the norm. Who would’ve expected Ryan Coogler, who did movies like Creed and Fruitvale Station, to do a big budget superhero movie? He kept things real and relevant while delivering on all the superhero action. Taika Waititi from Thor is delightfully off the wall. He isn’t afraid to do weird or daring things. Chris Hemsworth finally got to flex his comedic muscles and it paid off with incredible results. Each of these movies had their own styles.
A chunk of Marvel’s other movies haven’t quite measured up in the same way. Movies like Ant-Man, Iron Man 2, the Guardians franchise, Dr. Strange, Thor: The Dark World, Civil War, and Age of Ultron have the same feel. They get a little serious, but are all the same kind of witty comedy. Having all your movies be lighthearted is fine, but when they all take similar comedic pauses and techniques, have music that you can’t differentiate from the others, and they follow the same story beats and character developments, you have to start putting in more work. To bring up DC again, their big three heroes have wildly different tones. Batman feels different from Superman. Wonder Woman is different from both of them. If their movies were to be distinct, that would make them coming together more interesting. The first Avengers worked well because Thor was theatrical, Iron Man was snarky, and Captain America was noble. They were different in music and character development. Blending them together into the Avengers worked wonderfully. Sadly, they took the tone from Avengers, and blanketed it over a lot of their other movies. It can be too coherent at times, to the point where I want to have a tone difference between Dr. Strange and Spider-Man. It makes ensemble movies feel less special because we’ve already seen the same tone from the individual movies.
Something that isn’t exclusive to Marvel is the general superhero fatigue happening right now. Marvel puts out about three movies a year. Then there are the TV shows like Agents of SHIELD, and the incoming release of Disney+, Disney’s streaming service which will include Marvel exclusive content. It’s a lot to juggle, especially when there are other mediums also in the superhero space that are doing new and inventive things. Into the Spider-Verse used inventive animation. Even in anime, shows like My Hero Academia and One Punch Man do fun and subversive things in the genre that attract viewers like crazy. The CW has managed to own the TV medium with shows like Black Lightning, The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl amassing a large following of supporters. The room is getting crowded, and the genre is well past oversaturated. Having a plotline across multiple movies as a draw isn’t going to cut it anymore. With “universes” becoming a coveted and sought after venture in film, that won’t be a way to stand out anymore. Marvel has to firmly establish their new line of characters to ensure their fanbase grows.
Which brings me to my last point: I don’t believe Marvel has set up well to continue after Endgame. To look at the timeline for this year, we have Captain Marvel at the beginning of March, Endgame at the end of April, and Spider-Man: Far from Home at the beginning of July. That’s three movies in the span of four months. They usually do three movies in the span of a year. This kind of cramming is insane. It exhausts me just thinking about it. There’s no need to rush. The emphasis on Captain Marvel and the release of a full Far from Home trailer before a full Endgame trailer is baffling to me. It makes it seem like Endgame is an afterthought; how can it be such a serious movie with high stakes if we know Peter is alright and having a great time in Europe? If we're losing all these characters we've been with since the original Avengers film, why do they have to rush into a lighter film as if that doesn't matter? It seems like a desperate plan to get people back to the theatre. If Thor dies in Endgame, I'm not looking to see another Marvel movie for some time. They gave us a lot of time after Infinity War to collect our thoughts, and they could've and should've done the same for Endgame.
Far from Home could be pushed back. Captain Marvel was originally scheduled for 2018, but had so many delays they had to push it to the month before Endgame, even though she’s supposed to be a key character. She deserves more than being pushed to the latest possible date in order to insert her into the final Avengers movie. It makes her feel rushed rather than important, and I don’t want to have that feeling walking into Marvel’s first female-led film. On the topic of female-led films, I think an indicator as to the state of the creative department is the announcement of a Black Widow solo movie. That movie was in demand back in 2012. By this point, she’s been in multiple movies and has run her course. Her story ends with the rest of the Avengers in Endgame. So the new movie means she either lives and has another story that won’t feel as effective as it would’ve six or seven years ago, or she dies in Endgame and we get a prequel that has no bearing on the universe at all. It’s suspicious that she gets a movie announced after the success of Wonder Woman and the announcement of a Harley Quinn solo movie that people are eager for.
Regarding the set up of characters, it will also be less cohesive with the heroes we have. The new big heroes aren’t all together in an Avengers compound. We’ll have characters like Scarlet Witch and Falcon in upstate New York, Dr. Strange and Spider-Man in New York City, and Black Panther across the ocean in Wakanda. The new heroes are physically far from each other and haven’t interacted before. They’ll most likely rely more on solo movies, leaving more room for fans to fall off the main storyline and branch out into the solo heroes, as I see myself doing.
I don’t know what Marvel has planned. All I can say is that I need Black Panther 2 to come out ASAP.