With the Disney streaming service loading up on Avengers spinoff TV series, this could make Marvel TV more important than the MCU movies in 2020. The just-announced Winter Soldier and Falcon team-up miniseries joins Scarlet Witch and Loki as major Marvel Cinematic Universe movie characters who are planned to receive spinoff limited series on Disney's streaming service, with the actors from the films reprising their roles. But what does this mean for the MCU movies in 2020?
Marvel Studios may be gambling their current movie dominance with their Disney TV spinoffs. 2019 looks solid, with the trifecta of Captain Marvel in March, Avengers 4 in May, and Spider-Man: Far From Home in July. However, 2020 appears iffier; Disney's schedule scrapped a third planned Marvel film (rumored to be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), leaving only two currently unannounced Marvel films that year, which are expected to be Black Widow and The Eternals. However, both of those projects are prequels, which means that after next year's Spider-Man sequel, fans may have to wait until 2021 to see the MCU's story continue - unless they subscribe to Disney's streaming service.
Part of the enjoyment of the MCU is how it's an ongoing macro-narrative audiences have been following since Iron Man in 2008 - one that built up to Avengers: Infinity War, with an epic cliffhanger to be concluded in Avengers 4. Spider-Man: Far From Home is said to pick up immediately after Avengers 4 ends, with Peter Parker and friends going on a European vacation that will involve Nick Fury. However, if Black Widow and The Eternals are indeed Marvel Studios' 2020 films, that means the MCU continuing narrative of the MCU fans have grown accustomed to flocking to the movies for will suddenly stop with Spider-Man's sequel.
Marvel and Disney have conditioned their massive global fanbase to get two or three MCU "fixes" a year at their local theater. Soon, however, they will have to persuade fans to subscribe to the Disney streaming service in order to watch the Avengers characters in a forward-focused narrative continue in 2020. But what, in turn, will this mean for the MCU's movie offerings that year?
Will 2020 Have The First MCU Movies That Are "Inessential"?
If Black Widow and The Eternals are the MCU's 2020 films, that means both will be about the past. Black Widow is reportedly going to tell the tale of how Natasha became a deadly assassin and joined S.H.I.E.L.D. The Eternals, meanwhile, is going back even further; it's rumored to be set millions of years ago and could be a prequel to the entire MCU. As the Eternals is arguably an even lesser known property than Guardians of the Galaxy was in 2014, it could require all of Disney's marketing might to get fans interested to watch a movie about some of Marvel Comics' most obscure characters.
All of this may backfire for Marvel; 2020 could become the first time MCU movies are looked at as "inessential" by fans, especially if they can stay home instead to watch the continuing adventures of the other Avengers. A similar problem hit Lucasfilm with this year's Solo: A Star Wars Story, which wasn't regarded as a "must-see" because it unnecessarily filled in the blanks of Han Solo's life, information that most fans already felt they knew. At least, unlike with Solo recasting Harrison Ford, Black Widow benefits from Scarlett Johansson reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff, a founding MCU hero who audiences have watched since Iron Man 2 in 2010. Still, while fans have been clamoring for years for a Black Widow solo film, it may not match the box office numbers of Black Panther.
The Eternals, while an unknown quantity, do of course have wider cosmic influence and, now coming before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, are even more important in expanding this corner of the MCU. If this is a core part of that movie, it could see the movies gain importance, albeit more on the promise of what's to come.
Ultimately, a break for the movies is no bad thing. By 2020, Marvel will be entering its second decade of constant releases and coming off the epic two-part Infinity War. Perhaps a change-up, with some less grandiose movies in a narrative sense and a pivot to TV, is just what Kevin Feige and co. need.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019