Captain Marvel – Marvel’s most risky film to date.

Written by on February 10, 2019

With the release date of 8th March 2019 firmly set, and anticipation running high, it cannot be stated too highly how much is riding on the reception of Marvel’s next film – Captain Marvel. There are many reasons why this film is such a risk and one that could potentially make or break the cinematic universe. Below we discuss the reasons why the film itself is such a risk.

Release date

The release date for Captain Marvel has been changed on a number of occasions already, to accommodate other films in the franchise. Originally slated for release in summer 2018, before making way for Spiderman: Homecoming, and then moved from its spot in 2nd November 2018 to accommodate Ant Man the changes have meant that already the movie is not seen as a priority in the eyes of the company. This may seem like an odd leap, especially with the inclusion of the character in the final chapter of the current story arc – Avengers: Endgame.

Moving release dates around is not a new experience for Disney and wouldn’t be the first time this has happened in the MCU, however making way for films that were seen to be ‘more profitable’ when you are including such and important character seems like a strange move, especially one that is seen to be the most powerful in the new Avengers movie and able to ‘travel through time’ as per a comment from Samuel L Jackson recently.

Strangely there are positives to the release date being changed as well, upping the anticipation for the film and allowing time for a further teaser trailer to be released during the Superbowl. One would assume that this spot would have been taken up by Avengers: Endgame, however we got that too, so it doesn’t seem like much was lost. The assumption by almost everyone at this point is that Endgame will be seen by all and this may help Captain Marvel as people rush to get any new information they can about the new Avengers film before the April release of Endgame.

Avengers: Endgame

The importance of Captain Marvel to the story of Avengers: Endgame is something that is worrying a lot of Marvel fans. The character is being introduced to the Marvel MCU at the last minute, in fact due to Disney’s movie scheduling rules it would be impossible to introduce this character any later unless it was done in Endgame itself. There is a concern that the new Avenger will be elevated within the ranks of the more established, and loved, heroes in order to carry momentum through to the next phase of films. This would be a dangerous move at the best of times, but especially with the lack of character development and connection to the fan base who are looking for a conclusion to a story involving ten years of character arc than a quick fix as a result of a new character. Somewhat as a result of the character being described in the build up to Captain Marvel’s release date as ‘the most powerful in the MCU’ there is concern that the brand new character may be the most important character in the fight to resurrect the fallen Avengers, something that seems a bit disrespectful to the existing characters.

It must be mentioned of course that there have been no set pictures leaked of Captain Marvel with regards to the shots we have seen of Endgame, nor does she appear in the trailers and television spots for the film and in a scene where we seen the remaining avengers marching out of their compound it is Captain America that is leading the way. It seems implausible that the fan reaction to Captain Marvel could have an effect on the box office intake of Avengers: Endgame however, Captain Marvel is one of the flagship characters to take the MCU into the next stage and the entire future of the MCU may rest on this character being well received.

After Endgame

With Spiderman: Far from Home, Black Panther 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy 3, as well as the Eternals currently scheduled for release following Avengers: Endgame we know that there will be a continuation, if not an expansion of the MCU. There is a lot of pressure on the studio, not only to keep the momentum going in terms of quality of film and scope, but also in a sense to restart the momentum of the MCU. From Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame there is a clear story arc, everything so far has been leading to this, with big bad Thanos being an almost ever present threat to the MCU. Following Endgame however we have a generation of cinema goers who have seen the culmination of their storyline and now having a need to start another. Keeping the characters going and creating new stories is something that has been done in the comics for decades, however the introduction of every character so far seems to have been heading in one direction. Captain Marvel is the character that is essentially going to lead the charge past Endgame and into the new generation. As with Endgame it is difficult to see Spiderman, Black Panther or Guardians having a bad return at the box office, but after that everything seems a bit up in the air without the ever-present overarching narrative to catch them.

Series Fatigue

Although this has been used as a reason for the decline in the Star Wars franchise I do not see this being an issue with this film or the MCU, though if interest were to wane after Endgame I can see this being used rather than acknowledging that there was not enough interest generated in the new (I assume) overarching story, or the newer characters within it. Marvel have been releasing films at a prestigious rate, with varying reviews, and yet they are still hugely well regarded and better supported. This shows that the films are being made in line with the fans’ expectations and desires, unlike the Star Wars films.

Gender

There has been a lot made of the fact that Captain Marvel is the first female superhero in the MCU to have her own stand-alone film. The inclusion of a female superhero is not an issue in itself as the characters are well known and used in the comic book world and have their own fan base as such. Wonder Woman gained a great deal of media support based on her gender also, surviving an almost indescribably average film with high regard. This may also have been a reflection of the rock bottom expectations set by the rest of the films in the DCEU.

Overall female led films come under a lot of scrutiny and, especially in the social media worlds, there can be a lot of acrimony flying around. It seems that the characters and films do well as long as they are shown as more than just ‘a woman, meaning more than just putting a female on screen for the sake of being female. The character of Wonder Woman had character, developed over the course of the story and felt like an actual person, other films marketed as having an ‘all female cast’ feel as though the characters are secondary to the gender which seems a bit patronising. Any character is great or bland based on the writing of their character and their portrayal, with these done right they will be a success.

The above is one of the issues that has plagued Star Wars since the latest series of films were released. The character of Rey in The Force Awakens was seen to be ‘perfect’ from start to finish with no character development, no feeling of danger, not even so much as a training montage. Everything was possible and mastered instantly leaving the character boring straight out of the gates. Marvel avoid this obstacle by showing any sign of doubt or uncertainty in their character, or even a brief scene of trying to understand the powers they have. Something so simple will avoid the issues that Star Wars created for itself and possibly avoid a great deal of negative press as a result.

One of the major things that seems to have a great effect online is that any criticism of the film at all, with a female lead, is put down to sexism instead of admitting that there is anything wrong with the film. This begins early, as with all of the above films, and Captain Marvel is no exception. It would be nice to see either success or failure attributed to the film and its execution rather than the gender of the lead role, however having ventured onto Twitter recently I can’t see that being the case.

Overall

Overall I can see that there is a possibility of some issues with the film, especially since the release date of Endgame is far too close to walk anything back if Captain Marvel is poorly received. That being said I don’t imagine that after ten years of nearly perfect navigation of the cinema landscape and fan expectation that Marvel studios is going to veer off directly into the weeds at the last second. There is always that possibility but I don’t see that happening. The fact that any criticism of the film is being written off as sexism is simply a sad state of our online communication habits and admitting that the CGI seemed a little off during the Superbowl TV spot seems like a gender issue rather than a computer editing issue seems strange. That being said I haven’t seen things online being too bad as yet.

My main concern is with the films following Avengers: Endgame and what will be happening in the MCU, though that is not something that falls on the shoulders of Captain Marvel. That film will be used as a barometer though so it will be interesting to see what comes from that.

I can only see this film being a financial success, I sincerely hope that it is with fans as well. The MCU has changed cinema in its storytelling, character and world building and it would be a huge shame to see it marred by a poor response to its penultimate film. The 8th March 2019 can’t come fast enough and once it does everyone will be chomping at the bit for Endgame, the two seem inseparable at this point. What comes after we will have to wait and see but expecting anything other than great things from Marvel at this point seems like a losing bet.

 

 


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