Saturday, November 22, 2014

Marvel Studios takes chances with Phase III movies

Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and the Inhumans -- oh my!

No, that's not a team-up of some of Marvel Comics' C-list heroes; those will be the stars of individual films released by Marvel Studios respectively in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Pretty daring, huh?!?

Aside from avid Marvel fans, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel aren't exactly household names. And the Inhumans' leader is a mute. Wow. Daring or stupid? Time -- and box office results -- will tell.

Honestly, I'm disappointed Marvel didn't name its "Captain Marvel" film "Ms. Marvel." Why not advertise you're releasing a solo film starring a female superhero? Why leave it to the Marvel Comics nerds to notify Joe and Jane Public -- and even some genre fans -- that the star of "Captain Marvel" is Carol Danvers and not the male Kree warrior who first had that identity (at least in the Marvel Universe)? Why not be upfront about it?

Of course, it's possible "Captain Marvel" will include a backstory in which Mar-Vell dies of cancer and passes the title to Danvers, who might be called Ms. Marvel at that point. That might please the diehards and educate the newcomers to the Captain Marvel legacy.

Before I get into the wisdom of when some of Marvel Studios' movies are being released, here's the schedule:

  • "Captain America: Civil War" (May 6, 2016)
  • "Doctor Strange" (Nov. 4, 2016)
  • "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" (May 5, 2017)
  • "Thor: Ragnarok" (July 28, 2017)
  • "Black Panther" (Nov. 3, 2017)
  • "Avengers: Infinity War Part One" (May 4, 2018)
  • "Captain Marvel" (July 6, 2018)
  •  "Inhumans" (Nov. 2, 2018)
  • "Avengers: Infinity War Part Two" (May 3, 2019)

Releasing "Doctor Strange," "Black Panther" and "Inhumans" in November is a smart strategy. Since these characters are relatively unknown in the greater scheme of pop culture, the fall release is a safe choice. But brilliant. If these flicks don't perform at the box office as well as expected or hoped, it's a matter of no-harm, no-foul. On the other hand, if these movies do well -- or even better, beyond boc-office and/or critical expectations and they get a lot buzz there's a greater chance of staying in the theaters. And in that case, those flicks make more money and draws more  attention to those characters. Marvel Studios then gets recrowned brilliant decision makers.

(In an earlier post, I gave my thoughts about the "Black Panther" film -- and how Marvel pulled a sneaky one on its "distinguished competition.")

Obviously, Marvel has scheduled its proven big dogs to open the summer seasons of 2016 through 2019. The third "Captain America" film, the "Guardians" sequel and the two-part "Avengers" films will generate big bucks. Being proven moneymakers, they will start off their respective summers with a bang.

Since the first "Guardians" film was the king of the 2014 box office (almost $330.6 domestically and $770 million overall) with an August release date -- usually the wasteland of the summer season, the sequel has earned the right to open the 2017 summer season.

Speaking of shifting schedules, the third "Thor" film will open in late July 2017 — giving the franchise the peculiar honor of opening in May, November and now just before the height of the summer season ends. Marvel must hope the third installment will succeed in late July and grab some "late" summer bucks. But the date obviously avoids the release times for other genre films and/or DC Entertainment flicks.

Back to what I call the Ms. Marvel movie, "Captain Marvel." I wouldn't be surprised if Danvers' first appears onscreen in the first "Infinity War" film. That should pave the way for fans to be primed to see her in a solo flick two months later. Ultimately, I bet Ms. Marvel, I mean Captain Marvel, will be part of The Avengers' roster in the second "Infinity War."

Finally, Marvel Studios is following the trend of breaking a story into two films. I can't say I'm surprised as that's obviously the in-thing to do with movie franchises.

Marvel is trying to milk the most out of its greatest ensemble by following the two=film conclusion to the "Harry Potter," "Twilight" and "Hunger Games" franchises. But using the weak and less than memorable, lame-a** 1992 "Infinity War" six-issue storyline?!? I'm not sure if that's stupid or daring.

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