The Star Wars franchise is arguably the most well-known brand in terms of the films, toys, video games, novels, TV series and comic books. Are fans growing tired of the galaxy far, far away? Let’s discuss all things Star Wars.
Last month, news reports began to surface regarding 21st Century FOX interested in selling off the majority of their film & TV properties to Disney. Though said talks eventually stalled, they began to heat up again recently and the blockbuster announcement was finally made this past Thursday (December 14th 2017).
The deal, reported at $66 billion, will send properties like the X-Men, Fantastic Four & Deadpool back to Disney along with Avatar, The Simpsons, The Alien franchise & many more. When the initial talks first surfaced, I wrote an article about whether the comic properties would be a good fit in the MCU. Though most fanboys and fangirls everywhere will welcome these heroes with open arms, the question of fit is certainly an interesting one to ponder. Let’s take a look at how Disney can fit these newly acquired properties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Let’s start out with the merc with a mouth, Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds did an amazing job portraying the potty-mouthed mutant in the first solo film back in 2016, making a solid $783 million worldwide. The hard R-rating didn’t stop fans from coming out in droves to see a different kind of superhero movie. With Deadpool coming into the MCU, would he still be the same Deadpool we’ve grown to love?
After the acquisition, Disney CEO Bob Iger assured us all that Deadpool would remain an R-rated property, which is what the fans want. But how will he fit into a shared universe with the rest of the Avengers? In terms of simply putting him into the universe, Deadpool’s case could be one of the simplest ones. Deadpool is a character that frequently breaks the fourth wall in the comics and in his first film. He knows that he’s a comic book character and mentions relevant pop cultural happenings. Simply plopping Deadpool into the current MCU will be an easy transition in terms of the universe he inhabits. Things could get messy if he appears in a team-up style film with other PG-13 characters, but it’s a fun problem to have. Expect plenty of vulgar Mickey Mouse and Disney Princess jokes after Deadpool arrives into the MCU after Deadpool 2, which is hitting theatres next June.
Fans were made to sit through two terrible Tim Story-directed Fantastic Four movies in 2005 and 2007, respectively, but things got even worse when Josh Trank attempted to revitalize the franchise in 2015. Now that the First Family of Marvel is heading back home, how will they be introduced?
The backstory regarding how Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben got their powers revolves around them traveling into space and being exposed to cosmic radiation. This event could take place either in current time or set in the past. If set in the past, the team could be shown to have gotten trapped in the parallel universe known as the Negative Zone in the comics, preventing them from returning to earth after initially gaining their powers.
Going back to the premise that their introduction is set in current time, the prospect of having the Avengers Tower becoming the Baxter Building is very intriguing. As shown in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony Stark has sold Avengers Tower, as their new base of operations is now in upstate New York. But who did he sell to? Could it become Oscorp? Tying the Fantastic Four into this universe could reveal that it has been sold to Reed Richards.
Along with the main team, the Fantasic Four property also includes characters like Silver Surfer, Galactus and Doctor Doom, among others. With Thanos being the biggest big bad in the current MCU, what will the future hold after Thanos is (assumedly) defeated? A cosmic villain like Galactus would be a perfect fit to replace the Mad Titan atop the hierarchy of threats to the universe. On a smaller scale, Doctor Doom could be an incredible foil to any and all heroes in the MCU.
With James Gunn continuing the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and spearheading future space-based Marvel films, the Silver Surfer is a perfect addition to what’s to come. Incorporating him into storylines with the likes of alien races like the Kree, Chitauri, Badoon, and Skrulls, the possibilities for more cosmic-centric films has increased exponentially.
The X-Men franchise has seen its share of ups and downs since it first debuted back in 2000. While films like the original X-Men, X-2, First Class, Days of Future Past and Logan have been very solid films, the converse can be said about X-3, Origins and Apocalypse. With new X-films set to release next year with the likes of Dark Phoneix, Deadpool 2 and New Mutants, putting these characters into the MCU as they currently are would be nearly impossible.
As with Fantastic Four and Deadpool, the X-Men occupy a completely separate universe. Though there are “powered people” and Inhumans in the MCU, the term “mutant” is not in the dictionary. Kevin Feige cannot simply drop the X-Men as they are right into the mix. Characters like Apocalypse, Magneto and Wolverine have been around for a very long time. Knowing this fact, how could they be explained away as to have always been in this world?
The only logical way to put the current X-Men into the current MCU would be some sort of reality-changing event. With Avengers: Infinity War releasing next May and Avengers 4 the year after, it is conceivable that Thanos warps reality with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet and accompanying stones. The premise of multiple worlds and parallel universes has been discussed in the MCU by Dr. Erik Selvig in Thor: The Dark World and even on the current season of Agents of SHIELD. Though this could be an easy fix, it could also cause logistical problems. Does Kevin Feige WANT the current actors and actresses reprising their roles? Does he WANT the previous X-continuity to remain canon? And what about the two different versions of Quicksilver?
If the answer is no, the only other option would be to completely reboot the X-Men. Introducing a completely new roster of mutants would be the only way to go on this one. The X-gene will have to be something completely new, coming by way of genetic manipulation, a virus, or something extra-terrestrial. All mutants in this scenario would have to just be getting their powers, so expansive backstories for Magneto and Wolverine would not exist as we know them.
The MCU Post-Infinity War
Before this deal went through, Kevin Feige previously stated that there are currently 20 new films in development. After next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, we’re getting Ant-Man & The Wasp, Captain Marvel and the currently untitled Avengers 4. Keeping the trend of sequels going, one would assume that Black Panther will at least get a sequel if not a trilogy. The same can be said for Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy (which is getting a third film).
With current plans for a giant slate of upcoming films, would Feige and Marvel/Disney want to reboot the entire universe to accommodate for the newly acquired properties? The complexity of this new process of fitting these new additions is extremely difficult and will take a lot of hard work.
There are a lot of moving parts to all of this and it will be a lot of fun to follow over the next few years. Each upcoming Comic-Con and D-23 events will most likely be our look into Kevin Feige’s plans. Though fitting all of these new characters into the MCU in some capacity will be a problem, it’s certainly a good problem to have.
If the MCU is rebooted entirely, fans should take time to appreciate what we have gotten since 2008 when Iron Man first hit the big screen. This expansive world has given us hours and hours of enjoyment in both film and television form (except for Inhumans). The time of speculation is now upon us all.
Now that the news has broken, how do you see these new characters fitting into the MCU? Do you want the current X-Men ushered in? Do you want to see these properties rebooted? Does the MCU need to be burnt down and rise from the ashes like a phoenix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.
Earlier this week, reports from CNBC surfaced stating that Disney has been in talks to buy film & television properties from 21st Century Fox. Though said talks have seemingly stalled, the premise of having characters like the X-Men, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four is immediately intriguing to Marvel fans everywhere. Whether or not a deal of this magnitude comes to fruition, it was certainly a shocking headline to come across.
A large portion of Marvel fans would be absolutely delighted to see Wolverine sharing screen time with the Avengers or a full-fledged version of the Illuminati, but would these characters fit into the MCU in an organic way? Last year, I wrote an article about my issues with the X-Men film franchise. Their continuity issues and general lack of regard for cohesion has driven fans of the franchise crazy for more than a decade. However, there are also plenty of fans that truly enjoy the X-Men films for what they are and don’t want to see them “return home” to Marvel Studios. Though Fox has done a great job with some of their X-Men films and Deadpool, films like X-3, Apocalypse, X-Men: Origins and every Fantastic Four movie have been huge disappointments to fans.
In this article, I will highlight my reasons for and against adding Fox’s roster of Marvel characters into the MCU and how their inclusion could and could not work in a way that feels both seemless and fluid.
Let’s start out with the positive side of things. The opportunity for Marvel exec Kevin Feige to truly have uninhibited access to the complete roster of Marvel characters is certainly enough to sell anyone on the issue. The MCU has had to make backdoor deals with studios like Fox and Sony in order to be allowed to incorporate different characters into their films. The deal allowing Spider-Man to swing into the MCU was a groundbreaking feat.
No longer would the term “mutant” be banned. No more would we need multiple versions of the same character in different universes like that of Quicksilver. No more changed storylines and character usages because of rights issues. We’ll finally have the opportunity to have more faithful comic adaptations using these characters in the ways they were meant to be used.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Hugh Jackman at the press screening for Logan. I asked Hugh if he would be interested in appearing in an Avengers movie, to which he replied that he would. Though he has retired from the role of Wolverine, he could be enticed to return with this new opportunity. After all, he is the Wolverine we deserve.
Think of all the amazing storylines and films that we could see: Avengers vs. X-Men, House of M, Civil War 2, and even an Infinity Gauntlet the way it was meant to be done. In the comics, characters like Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four are imperative to some of the major story arcs. Villains like Galactus and Doctor Doom would be incredible foils in a post-Thanos MCU.
Stepping aside from the film world, the opportunity for various TV series is also a major plus. Some of the offshoot X-Men teams would be prime candidates for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Building a cohesive universe in all areas of visual media is such a wonderful thing to think about and would truly unite the characters we’ve grown up reading and watching.
With all of the positives out of the way, let’s talk about some of the negatives. The inclusion of Fox’s Marvel characters would most likely require rebooting. There’s no logical way that I can think of to have the current roster of X-Men suddenly appear in the current MCU. The X-Men are very much intertwined with political and human rights issues that would have shaped the way society thinks of super-powered beings. It wasn’t until Captain America: Civil War that the Sokovia Accords came into existence to keep track of our heroes, so adding a stable of mutants into the mix just would not fit. Characters like Magneto, Apocalypse and Wolverine have been around for a very long time; having them suddenly appear in the MCU wouldn’t make much sense.
The tone of the Fox universe is also vastly different from that of the MCU. We’ve gotten R-rated movies in Logan and Deadpool that wouldn’t mesh well with the more comedic stylings that the MCU has to offer with properties like the Guardians of the Galaxy or even with the newly-released Thor: Ragnarok. If Deadpool were to pop up in a film with Spider-Man, would he still be the foul-mouthed mercenary we fell in love with last year? Figuring out a way to mesh these different tones would be a difficult task for sure.
Having different properties at different movie studios also gives fans the opportunity to have a greater number of these films. This year, we were given Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Logan. In the coming years, we’re getting two more Avengers films, Ant-Man & The Wasp, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Gambit, New Mutants, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Deadpool 2, X-Force, Venom, Silver & Black and two more Spider-Man films. This is a huge workload for one studio to undertake (though Sony is still in the mix). Having a huge slate of films under a single studio could mean a smaller output of film releases in a calendar year.
There are certainly many pros and cons to having all of our heroes together under one unified branch. Where do you stand on a possible merger? What team-ups would you like to see? What are your ideas as to how Fox’s Marvel characters could be introduced into the MCU? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!
After our very special 1st birthday episode with special guest Steve Morrison of the Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR (which was just voted as the greatest rock station of all time), Steve gave us a “butt plug” on their show today. We’ve also been featured on WMMR’s website!
(Click “play” to hear our “butt plug”
Ever since Robert Downey Jr. first suited up for Iron Man back in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their slew of directors have had a daunting task of mixing various elements of action, adventure, science fiction and comedy into their plethora of super hero films.
Despite the alien invasions, civil wars, and intergalactic settings, comedy has always been a mainstay in the MCU. Whether it’s Tony Stark throwing out off-handed jabs, Rocket Raccoon stealing limbs or Thor smashing cups, MCU head honcho Kevin Feige and his underlings have made it a point to break the tension with these comedic tones. Each film in this shared universe always diverts from the main storyline to add in one-liners and laughs for fans of all ages, which inertly isn’t a bad thing. But is too much comedy in these films, especially with growing stakes heading into Avengers: Infinity War, too much?
Let’s explore a number of instances from various MCU films, starting off with the most recent addition in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tom Holland certainly made an impact when he debuted in Captain America: Civil War, bringing a sense of youth to Peter Parker/Spider-Man that had been sorely missed in both Sam Raimi’s and Marc Webb’s attempts at bringing the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the big screen. Seeing Holland on-screen in Homecoming was refreshing and the comedic aspects to that film were well-warranted. Spider-Man has always been a smart ass kid, often talking trash to his adversaries during battle. It was a no-brainer that comedy would be a big part of this film, and rightfully so. At no point did these moments take me out of the film, as this element is a core essential characteristic of Spider-Man. The storyline was nicely plotted out and the comedy blended well within the overall film. I had no issue with comedy in this film.
On the flip side of this argument, jump back a month to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Not only did I not enjoy this film for it’s story, the film was loaded with cheap comedic moments that wholly took me out of the film. Whether it was repeated beats from the first film, Drax making poop jokes, Baby Groot being shoved down our throats or how much Mantis was dumbed down as a character, this film spent way too much time trying to get cheap laughs and it really deterred from making this film great, especially with how well James Gunn did with the first film (even with Star Lord’s dance off with Ronan, yikes). A huge miss on this one.
There are plenty of other instances of badly used humor throughout the MCU, such as Kat Dennings’ terrible character of Darcy Lewis and her calling Mjolnir “meow meow” in the Thor films, Quicksilver’s “You didn’t see that coming?” babble in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Trevor Slattery’s mere existence in Iron Man 3, or Kaecilius getting beat up by the Cloak of Levitation in Doctor Strange. I could go through each film and pick out the most cringe-worthy moments, but it would take entirely too long to do. The bottom line here is that I believe Marvel is trying to cater to the casual fan too much.
Obviously, the point in releasing these films is to make money. The MCU has to cater to an extremely large range of fans worldwide, not just the casual fan. Trying to make strict adaptations of these comic stories for the big screen is not a feasible business practice. A film like Ant-Man has to appeal to both comic readers and audience goers that have never heard of the character, so adding humor is certainly a great way to bridge the gap in these instances. The formula that Marvel & Disney have implemented cannot be disputed financially, as these films have gone on to gross billions of dollars for the studio. But is there a point where enough is enough?
When Avengers: Infinity War hits theatres next year, the fate of the entire (cinematic) universe will be in jeopardy. Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet literally have the power to destroy everything in existence. As the roster of characters pretty much includes every hero we’ve ever seen so far, what are we going to expect: Rocket, Star Lord and Iron Man cracking jokes as Thanos is throwing pieces of destroyed planets at them? Feige and the Russo Brothers need to understand the dire straits our heroes will find themselves in and reign back the use of humor a bit. That’s not to say there can’t be any kind of humor added in, but the circumstances need to dictate the banter going on in a way that doesn’t make it feel like it’s made for a 5-year-old.
Before I end this rant, I’d like to point out a quote from Thor: Ragnarok director Taiki Waititi from his recent interview with the LA Times on this very topic:
“If we were taking things a little too seriously, I would say, ‘Never forget that we’re making a cosmic adventure with a space Viking,’” said the director by phone. “That sort of captures it all. We’ve got the Incredible Hulk, and a giant woman with antlers. We’ve got aliens and spaceships. It’s almost like a bunch of kids were asked what they wanted to put into a movie, and then we just did that.”
While Waitit’s comments make sense within the context that these characters are mere figments of the imagination, it angers me a bit to think that these directors may not be giving these characters the treatment that hardcore fans think they deserve. I feel for the most part that the use of humor has been more positive than negative, but the highlighted instances have done a lot to make me fearful for the future of these franchises. I don’t want to see our heroes acting silly when things are at their bleakest.
Now I turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on the use of humor in the MCU? Do you think it needs to be toned down heading into film’s like Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War? What have been your favorite and least favorite comedic moments so far?
Cinematic universes, or shared universes, are not a new thing when it comes to the film world.
Dating back to 1931, the Universal Monster Universe featuring characters like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man have all shown up in each other’s films to create a cohesive world that saw familiar characters interact with each other. Having these characters being portrayed by the same actor or actress adds that extra bit of connective tissue that can make “standalone” films blend together in a much bigger way.
While universes like the Universal Monsters, Planet of the Apes, or James Bond (to a certain degree), have been around for decades, the modern version of this trend is one that has some fans voicing their displeasure. There seems to be a line being drawn in the sand when it comes to incorporating multiple characters and films under one roof in terms of how fans are reacting, but why?
As a kid, I loved seeing my favorite superheroes working together in comics and TV shows. Spider-Man got to hang out with the X-Men, Batman and Superman had their own cartoon, and even the Power Rangers got to meet up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though the bulk of these crossovers I enjoyed came in the form of cartoons and TV shows, I always longed to see them together on the silver screen.
The late 90s/early 2000s ushered in a new age of comic book movies with films like X-Men, Blade, Spider-Man and the Dark Knight series, but something was missing. How come our heroes couldn’t meet up with each other? How come Batman didn’t have any help from the rest of the Justice League? Where are the other Avengers in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films?
One of the largest obstacles to overcome when crafting these cinematic universes has been the issue of film rights. When Marvel had to sell off a huge portion of their character film rights just to stay afloat, the prospect of ever seeing their champions together onscreen became nearly impossible. As Marvel had eventually been bought by Disney and gained financial stability, Kevin Feige had begun crafting what we now know and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the time, he only had a small roster of lesser characters to choose from, though subsequent deals to re-acquire characters like Blade, Ghost Rider and Daredevil would be made. After the Sony hacks back in 2015, word began spreading about their uncertain financial future and an agreement to allow Marvel include Spider-Man in their universe was eventually made, as Spider-Man: Homecoming was released earlier this year and he appeared in Captain America: Civil War.
2008 saw Iron Man make his debut with then-shamed actor Robert Downey Jr donning the iron suit. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury would meet with Stark, where he referenced the Avengers Initiative in a post-credits scene for the film. The Incredible Hulk would follow just a month later after a post-credit scene saw Tony Stark conversing with Thunderbolt Ross, who would also appear later in Captain America: Civil War. Since that time, we’ve seen characters like Captain America, Thor, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange get their own standalone films, sequels, and teamups in this shared universe. Though these heroes have had their own origin stories and adventures, Feige & Co. have carefully developed (for the most part) an all-encompassing world that sees these characters, plots and storylines woven together in a way that tells an overall story across the current 16-film epic with no end in sight. In the coming years we’re getting new characters added in with Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and the huge number of characters set to appear in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Moving on to the DC front, the Joel Schumacher Batman films had all but killed the World’s Greatest Detective until Christopher Nolan resurrected him with 2005’s Batman Begins. Gone were the days of neon lights, bat nipples and “cool” puns, as Christian Bale portrayed Batman in a grounded, gritty way. Though completing his trilogy, Nolan had no inclusion of any of the other heroes in the DC pantheon, nor did we see any connection from Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns in 2006. It wasn’t until 2013’s Man of Steel did we see seeds being planted for a cinematic universe consisting of the DC gods.
Three years would go by until we finally got the crossover we’d all been waiting for when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theatres and showed us glimpses of the upcoming Justice League. We finally got to see The Flash, Aquaman, Batman, Superman and Cyborg share screen time, though many fans didn’t quite get what they expected. We also got a Suicide Squad film that was not well-received at all, consisting of DC‘s villains in a weird teamup. Wonder Woman made her solo debut earlier this year and Aquaman is coming next year after Justice League hits this November.
Though DC is developing their own cinematic universe, it had been riddled in turmoil nearly from the start. They began having numerous issues with directors leaving projects, script rewrites, and speculation of Ben Affleck leaving his role of Batman. Most recently, director Matt Reeves made waves when he said that Batman would be a complete standalone film outside of the DCEU, only to recant his statements a day later. DC has also had an issue, in this writer’s opinion, of announcing too many upcoming projects before really having any concrete plan laid out. This week alone we had two different Joker films announced, with one reportedly recasting Jared Leto as the Clown Prince of Crime.
The state of disarray that seems to be taking place in the DCEU has led to rampant rumors and speculation of problems throughout the entire universe. It’s disheartening to have things announced only to have things being shifted, changed or scrapped. Why can’t DC just relax a bit and focus on making a few good films before going crazy and announcing so many other projects? The majority of their currently released films have been divisive at best and we really haven’t seen anything spectacular, in my opinion, though Wonder Woman was probably the best-received film to-date. Hopefully DC can figure out their issues and build something great, something that the fans can fully love and embrace. We’ve waited long enough to see these heroes be portrayed in a way that is both faithful and entertaining.
The debate over which of these two studios is doing a better job is not the topic of discussion here. Though I thoroughly enjoy most of the MCU, I have plenty of issues with some of their films that I won’t get into here. Feel free to spout out your “fanboy favoritism” in the comments, but know that I want all of these properties to be good and do well.
With all of these examples being laid out, let’s finally get into the topic at hand. What’s the deal with these cinematic universes? How is it that fans have gotten exactly what they’ve wanted for so long, only to start complaining about it? We’re getting huge tent pole teamup films, yet people complain that “not everything has to be connected” or “why can’t we just have standalone films? or “why didn’t this guy show up to help the other guy in that movie?”
Honestly, I’m not sure what people want. When we get Matt Reeves‘ standalone Batman, according to him now, it will be purely a Batman film with no inclusion of the other DC heroes. That’s fine, I have no problem with that. There’s nothing wrong with doing standalone films within a larger universe. Not every hero has to cameo in each other’s films. As long as there is connective tissue bringing them together in subtle ways without beating audiences over the head, I don’t see an issue.
In my opinion, I’m a fan of these cinematic universes and crossovers. I feel it adds gravitas and flavor to these films in a way that keeps me coming back for more. It’s certainly a challenge for these directors and bigwigs to paint such a large picture years in advance, which ultimately leads to plot holes and inconsistencies, which is understandable. I believe a level of caution needs to be exercised before announcing a slate of film years in advance, as there are so many moving parts.
Now I want to hear from you. Where do you stand on cinematic universes? Are they a good thing? What are some of your favorite ones? What films or characters would you like to see be crossed over into something new? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!