Comic Con Has Been and Gon(e). Marvel had a big presence there. They launched Phase 4. Or as I like to call it, Phase ‘yawn’.
Am I being negative here? Am I dis-regrading the will of the masses and the extensive work invested by great artisans? Um, No. To quote a great movie pundit: ‘all film is subjective’. I am as entitled to my opinion as are you or anyone else. And in the grand scheme of things: Marvel, especially, will continue to run and run. Forever! No arguments, there. Fine. Having said that? I was just not ‘wowed’ by the presentation or announcements. Nothing here gets my adrenaline flowing or teases and tantalises my appetite for more Marvel movies. Sorry. Nah, not sorry. In fact, I can explain my position. Here, as follows. Feel free to disagree (just don’t be nasty, please: I’m very sensitive) 😉
They Announced and yet..Did not Announce..Stuff?
FANTASTIC FOUR! BLACK PANTHER 2! CAPTAIN MARVEL 2! GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3! ALL sort of announced. But with ZERO fanfare? THESE are the MAIN EVENTS. The BIG GUNS. the movies that SHOULD be centre stage of any presentation, moving forward? But no. Instead we got LOTS about what are, for the most part, subsidiary television projects. Granted: the mega fans will LOVE it ALL! And yes, this is only the next two years rather than the entire Phase 4 slate.
And yep, sometimes best reserve the big hitters, keep some powder dry etc. I do understand, completely. But sometimes: just as less is more, so more..is MORE! The sheer volume of spin offs and cast members announced was..well..almost infinite and cosmic in its sheer ambitious proliferation. So they could and should crown that with just a BIT more emphasis on the properties that propelled the last few years of spectacular success.
Also: Brie Larson is a massive star. Use her more, Marvel. Bring her EVERYWHERE. A real world Goddess: She’s your new talisman, charm, protector. And yes, FAR FROM HOME still in cinemas and a new deal with SONY over rights contingent on that movie’s final box office take..but come on..a third ‘MCU’ SPIDER-MAN movie NEEDED some sort of HINT, at least here, surely?
Cumberbatch aint Downey
Yes, time moves forward and so must we as audiences. I get it. Yes, the pseudo-erudite scope of ENDGAME makes perfect sense with the (spoiler alert) death of one of the heroes forming some kind of thematic arc reactor for audiences to ponder. Those Russo Brothers are SO subversive and original (hence they are supervising all the REMAKES at MGM!). 😉
I understand. Ok: Downey was expensive, too and has many other projects he can play around with now, applying the full range of his thespian talents. Marvel is a business and no longer ‘needs’ to rely on one set of characters now that Disney, a parent company own EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD!
And yet: Stark and Iron Man were a kind of invisible buffer /support/prop, throughout ALL of this cinematic universe’s properties. He was ‘there’, even when not ‘there’ onscreen and his presence / iconography/imagery propped up and propelled every property, from day one til the ‘Endgame’.
Without Downey /Iron Man: there would be no Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s that simple.
Now, I’m not saying that the new /existing other IP cannot sustain the brand; what I’m saying, if I’m saying anything at all, is that they have ALL lost a MASSIVE injection of charisma, charm, rock-star level street-cred, class, talent, sex appeal, style and yep, box office possibility, by lacking Tony Stark or at least some heavy hitting counterpart /successor.
Lovely that they tried to imply the likes of Cumberbatch/Dr Strange are now at similar level of appeal: cheering crowds, Benedict holding comic-con court like he’s cool and so on. And he’s a nice boy: works hard, very talented, consummate actor. And I loved him in Infinity War..notably, the scenes where he shared the screen with..you guessed it..Stark/Iron Man/Downey. Strange on his own is basically like your local Vicar, only the Vicar is more fun and you can have Tea and a chat with him.
Marvel is now a kingdom without a King, a ship without an anchor, a shrine without a God at the helm. And whilst it will of course survive and even thrive on its own? That’s a risk they need not have taken or at least should be compensating for with greater vigilance to star power and charm and the good will that sometimes cannot be recaptured.
Downey as Stark SHOULD be, at the very least, your new Stan Lee cameo good luck charm /continuity thread. And that could and indeed should have gone on and on for as long as Marvel made movies. Marvel: you have a massive charisma vacuum at the centre of your universe now and whilst it can be plugged, there may well be some minor character / IP franchises that get sucked into obscurity through the wake.
Factory Floor and Playing ‘WOKE’ Bait
Once again, I apologise for the blasphemy I am about to commit here. But ETERNALS sounds DULL. I know, God(s) forgive me. It’s just that I can predicts its probable pattern: Richard Madden plays down on luck everyman but he has an inner GOD awaiting its awakening. Enter ANGELINA JOLIE (supported by William Hague, no doubt?!) who teaches him to find his secret power and save the world/universe? Basically, what Jolie did a decade ago and better in WANTED : a movie that deserved, dearly, its own series of sequels but lacked the franchise power that a company like Marvel can bring.
Maleficent aside, I did not think Jolie now ‘did’ commercial popcorn based entertainment anymore? Isn’t she busy saving the world in real life now? Does she not feel somewhat ‘above’ this sort of material, given her status as part time academic lecturer? Vexing. Still: welcome to the franchise factor floor, Angelina. A very BUSY and PROLIFIC factory. The television wing alone will put NetFlix out of business (stock drop this week surely influenced by these Marvel announcements: everyone flocking to Disney Plus?).
We can all look forward to the more minor, obscure and least exciting characters in the catalogue all getting very detailed spin-offs. I know lots of people REALLY wanted more HAWKEYE, WANDA, FALCON..yep. No sarcasm there, I promise. There is nothing wrong with following formulae, of course. The safety and certainty of a brand are part of what makes it thrive. Establish a structure and experiment within that. But here? Even the daring departures are themselves safe.
It is thought /RUMOURED that the delightful Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie character will now be ‘LGBTQ’ in the next THOR movie (titled LOVE AND THUNDER). That would be fine! Except that the lady established a beautiful chemistry with Chris Hemsworth’s THOR!
There was ZERO hint of ANY gay sub-plot and conjuring one from nowhere smacks of gimmicks. All that will do is bait an army of pathetic basement dwelling online commentator pond-scum twits into speaking for mankind against what they see as ‘woke’ (ie compassionate, inclusive) story-telling. They will probably target poor Tessa in their trolling efforts but thankfully she can more than capably handle their unwanted attentions, I suspect. That said? One would be forgiven for suspecting it’s a needless twist/plot contrivance, brought into facilitate the return of NATALIE PORTMAN AS THOR?!
That move alone, beggars belief, frankly. Natalie, much like Jolie, makes much of her academic / serious status. And that’s great! But it also explains why Ms Portman looked a bit lost in her previous contributions to the Thor movies and why bringing her back at all, let alone as a new Thor (as mooted?) seems a BIT of a stretch.
But there’s always Lady Sif and Kat Dennings available for Thor 5 and 6 should part ‘4or’ fail to fly.
What DID lure Portman back, I wonder? I heard a rumour that she has script approval and is drafting her own lines. in RUSSIAN (Nat is a linguist, you see: double first from HARVARD and YALE: something she NEVER MENTIONED AT ALL). It is thought that Natalie will collaborate in the translation..with TOM HIDDLESTON.
MARVEL’S MANY NEW PROJECTS WILL BE RELEASED WITHIN THE NEXT TWO YEARS. WE WILL COVER SOME OF THOSE. IN OUR SLEEP. :
NB: This is a news opinion /commentary with a satirical element.