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Marvel Studios has plans. Big, big plans way beyond anything they or anyone else has ever done previously. If you’re a fan of the recent blockbusters from Phase 1 and Iron Man 3’s Phase 2 opener, you are probably excited. However, might you also be a little concerned?
Since the birth of the comic book film genre, or more specifically, the superhero film genre with 1978’s Superman: The Movie, excitement has been running high. Once we realized it was possible to make a good comic book film, we were hooked. Whether the film one is excited for pleases or disappoints is another issue, but the knowledge of the next big comic book film adaptation is more often than not, like the sweet smell of roses to a fanboy or girl. Fast forward thirty-five years later, our summers are now dominated by the once novel treat that is the comic book film starring your favorite superheroes.
These films popping up every summer like popcorn are mostly coming from Marvel Studios. True, Marvel isn’t the only game in town as evident by the recent successes put out by Warner Bros. and DC with the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy and the Zack Snyder directed, Nolan produced Man of Steel, they are perhaps the biggest game right now. Their move to establish a Marvel Cinematic Universe akin to the universe of the comics is quite unprecedented. To do it in phases seems to have been the right call as it has proven to be successful. The question now is how long will Marvel’s formula continue to work?
The legendary Stan Lee had a saying at the end of every editor’s note or introduction he wrote to a character’s ultimate guide and that was “Excelsior!” It is Latin for ‘ever upward’, and is the motto of the New York State. Lee, who was born in New York, apparently lived by this motto reaching ever upward with each new character he created or co-created during his time with Marvel. There was a point in time where everything he and his trusted team touched was gold. From Spider-Man, to the Hulk, to the X-Men, and Marvel’s first family of heroes, the Fantastic Four and more. He could do no wrong. Could Marvel Studios be living by “Excelsior” as well? With a slate of films planned from now all the way through 2021, they too seem to be reaching ever upward into a new space of success unlike anything ever achieved.
The problem with reaching so far up and actually getting there is of course, if you miss the mark and fall, it is a long, long way down. This isn’t meant to be so melodramatic though, because really, if Marvel were to put out some bad films in the next several years, they wouldn’t be hurting too much in my opinion. Their fan base is just too great. Every film between now and 2021 would have to be horrible for any real damage to be done and Marvel would reassess the track they are on. Based on the massive success that is Phase 1, Marvel will always be given a chance to prove themselves. So what’s the deal with all these Marvel films coming out anyway? Is this time right now (through the next eight years) the comic nerd’s dream come true? Or could this all be an unwitting set up for a huge bad taste in our mouths? Could all this comic book superhero madness be too much?
Personally, I’m of the school that believes all of this is supremely awesome. So far, mostly the right people have been involved on the projects of the MCU’s first phase and the beginning of their second phase to produce massive successes on a consistent basis. That said, I also question the churning out of all these films every year. On the one hand, Kevin Feige is a genius. Why? Well, consider how often comic books series are released. If the idea was for Kevin Feige and crew to handle these movies like visual comic books from every aspect, they are succeeding. Like comics, where we tune in next month for a new issue, we will tune in next year for the next film. It’s never been done before and good for Marvel for pulling it off. On the other hand, my concern is that after three phases of Marvel films (including sequels), at two films every year, there is a high risk of sapping away the feeling of witnessing something special in bringing these characters to the big screen. So it’s cool, but it’s also questionable. Couldn’t they take a break for a bit and then come back later?
It’s no secret that these films are expensive to produce. It’s also clear that there is a huge market for these films. As long as the mighty Marvel machine keeps making money from these movies, the sky is the limit. There is always going to be an audience. My fear is that there is a danger of oversaturation of these wonderful characters and their stories. While I am a fan of these movies and do carry some excitement in all of this, I’m also one who doesn’t want to feel bombarded with one MCU film after another. I see these films as that filet mignon you can’t always get, but when you do, you feel like it was a special treat. It’s so good you feel like you could eat it all the time. But would you really want it all the time? Wouldn’t you eventually get bored? Especially when you consider there are so many other options out there to get into.
Enjoying too much of a good thing. Is it possible in Marvel’s case? Couldn’t they leave well enough alone? Of course not, because the source material for everything they are planning, announced and otherwise, is so vast that there is nearly endless potential to bring another solid character to the screen. Not to mention the obscene amounts of money the films would yield. The bottom line is, it’s happening whether we want it or not. Though I’m not anxious to see all of the upcoming films, I am curious to see what Marvel does next. What do you all think out there? Is Marvel being awesome or as Tony Stark says, “Not Awesome”? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!