Marvel Will Stop Wasting Secondary Characters
Loki proved to be a stand-out character from the first Thor movie and became the primary antagonist of The Avengers. However, despite Tom Hiddleston’s enduring popularity with fans, the franchise hasn’t put the character to good use for a while, retiring him to secondary status as the films expanded beyond the core cast. Scarlet Witch doesn't even have that; she's always been referred to as one of the main characters the films yet is usually reserved as a plot motivator. For someone who is such an icon in the comics, she’s used to little effect in the franchise, struggling for screen time as the ensemble has become larger. This is not unique to Wanda: think of War Machine or Bucky Barnes or break-out characters from Black Panther like Shuri.
It’s an inevitable downside of such a gargantuan franchise for many secondary characters, even beloved ones, to be sidelined in favor of bigger characters or establishing new heroes. A lot of these heroes are also less likely to receive solo movies because, even though Marvel is essentially a guaranteed hit-maker these days, some risks are still not worth taking. That’s what makes a new Marvel Studios TV operation so striking.
It’s a chance to give those under-served characters real focus. A Loki series that delves into some of the truly bonkers elements of his comics runs could be brilliant, or a Scarlet Witch show where she’s front and center for the first time. The possibilities are as endless as their films.
Marvel Can Finally Make Mid-Range Projects
Marvel movies are pricey endeavors, with the most recent Avengers film, Infinity War, having an estimated production cost as high as $400 million. Even a “smaller” MCU movie, such as Ant-Man and The Wasp, still carried a budget of around $150 million. Once upon a time, such numbers would have been considered unprecedented: now, it’s business as usual. The flipside of this is that it's looking increasingly unlikely for them to make smaller stories.
The new shows could change that, allowing for more mid-range budgeted projects. The chances are that Marvel Studios not going to make, say, a $55 million movie in the way Warner Bros. and DC are doing with their solo Joker movie. Television could be a new way into that, or at least the Disney streaming service offers a new platform where such things are possible. TV shows aren’t cheap to make and budgets are only getting bigger – Netflix’s The Crown, for example, costs around $100 million a season – but compared to rising costs for film, it’s still a viable option for a lower budget. Indeed, while the report has suggested that these new TV series will have “hefty” budgets, they'll not match the big-screen counterparts.
Going forward, there could be immense potential for Disney to use their streaming platform for smaller projects. That would allow for a more intimate variation in storytelling and character focus in the MCU, the kind of stuff that’s not typically a priority in blockbuster cinema that prides spectacle as its primary selling point. The expectation with such a franchise is for everything to keep getting bigger and bigger, but a chance to scale back would serve Marvel well.
Little is known about the Disney streaming service beyond a handful of upcoming exclusive shows and movies – such as a new Star Wars series helmed by Jon Favreau – but the potential is almost as exciting as what has been offered so far. The main issues with the MCU have stemmed from its needlessly confusing film and TV divide and its constant need to get more epic, often at the cost of certain characters and stories. Creating new TV series under the Marvel Studios umbrella can’t fix all those issues but they can go a great way to dealing with inherent flaws in their system.
- 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 02, 2019