Avengers: Endgame succeeded as a blockbuster juggernaut, but it seems as though the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a way to avoid any kind of future Avengers fatigue. Spider-Man: Far From Home will mark the end of Phase 3, but the next scheduled slate of films is rumored to introduce fresh faces to the franchise. By rejuvenating the MCU with Phase 4, Marvel could step away from the notion that superhero team-up movies have worn out their welcome.
There are several upcoming Marvel movies releasing within the next few years. Although the release schedule has yet to be confirmed, the MCU is expected to feature the Black Widow solo movie, The Eternals, Shang-Chi, as well as sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy. We also wouldn't be surprised if Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has a few surprises up his sleeves in terms of upcoming MCU movies.
But how can Marvel avoid the much-discussed fatigue caused by superhero-focused movies drowning the box office? It's difficult to believe that audiences are tired of the genre considering how many box office records were broken by Endgame. Many viewers are even planning to see the film again to check out the new credits scenes featured in the theatrical re-release. Endgame was over a decade in the making and became one of the biggest pop culture events in history. Marvel now needs a way to live up to its past accomplishments while they also find ways to get audiences to crave their new movies.
Marvel's Biggest Threat Isn't Superhero Fatigue - It's Avengers Fatigue
The superhero fatigue debate has existed for years, but the genre is showing no signs of slowing down. Superhero movies within the MCU and DCEU continue to be some of the most-anticipated movies each year. The problem that Marvel should focus on can't be superhero fatigue, it should be Avengers fatigue.
Avengers movies are a segment of the superhero genre but it's a more specific type of movie. By featuring a number of characters like Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man teaming up, the stakes for the movies are ultimately higher. But how can a studio take the plot higher than dozens of characters coming together to fight a cosmic being like Thanos? It would be too risky to create another Avengers team-up film with a much smaller threat, at least in the near future.
It's clear that viewers are still willing to watch movies that center on fresh characters. Even with a varying amount of buzz, audiences packed theaters to watch comic book movies focused on characters such as Shazam, Aquaman, Venom, and Deadpool. As long as studios like Marvel shorten the focus on brand-new stories, they should have no worries regarding fatigue.
Marvel Phase 4 Is Shaping Up To Be More Standalone
Based on the rumored titles to make up Phase 4 of the MCU, it seems as though Marvel will focus back their attention to standalone solo movies. Natasha Romanoff was killed in Avengers: Endgame, which all but guarantees that the Black Widow movie will be a prequel. This will presumably bring an end to her character in the MCU, something that viewers won't want to miss.
Characters such as Black Panther and Doctor Strange, who will also reportedly be prominent heroes featured in Phase 4, will always be connected with the Avengers, but they're no longer in the big picture. They each have their own storylines to explore without the involvement of other big superheroes. Black Panther 2 plans to explore T'Challa's role as king whereas Doctor Strange 2 will focus on the Sorcerer Supreme's emerging powers.
Marvel is following suit with DC's recent plan of stepping away from crossover event films. Even though the Avengers films have been far more successful than movies like Justice League in terms of box office numbers, DC's step back approach has been working. Of course, there may still be small character crossovers in Marvel's plan, but it won't be the core hook to grab audiences. It would be interesting to see if Thor is involved in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as a way to give the character a return to the MCU without a major Avengers film.
Marvel Phase 4 Will Go From Street Level To Cosmic
One of the current rumors surrounding the MCU's future is that the focus will exist in two forms - street level and cosmic. Most of the presumed MCU Phase 4 slate can be fit into each of those categories. This essentially allows Marvel to focus on two corresponding franchises within the MCU. More importantly, it forces variety into Marvel's future. If a character moves from one setting to the other, a crossover would be a much bigger deal.
Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Black Panther 2 would probably keep the heroes on their respected home planets. On the other side, movies like Doctor Stranger 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would predominately feature a cosmic setting. A handful of movies that exist on a cosmic level also allows for Marvel to introduce a wide set of never-before-seen characters. This could open doors for the MCU down the line if they ever revert the focus back to major superhero team-ups.
Will Marvel Do Avengers Sub-Teams?
The MCU could, of course, introduce smaller sub-teams of the Avengers as a way to dodge fatigue. Viewers have been vocal about wanting to see other versions of the Avengers on the big screen. Marvel could easily create the Young Avengers, the Dark Avengers, or the Secret Avengers for a feature film. There has also been a lot of requests for an A-Force, which would feature the MCU's mightiest female heroes. By having multiple, small group films, it would satisfy viewers without adding to any notion of large-scale fatigue.
Involving too many characters in one film can often make the overall story convoluted and rushed. By focusing on some of the lesser known Marvel characters, it would give the studio a chance at telling more in-depth stories. The heroes would get an appropriate amount of time to tell their solo stories. There's still an element of variety but it would continue building to something for the future. It seems likely that another gigantic MCU event will occur in the future but it's important for Marvel to slow down and build up unfamiliar storylines.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019