I’m sure many geeks would agree that this is a pretty good time to be a superhero fan. Superhero films seem to be breaking box office records left and right, and we’re seeing a diverse array of superhero stories portrayed on both the big screen and on TV.
If all this somehow stopped right now, and we never got another superhero film or TV show, we still would have a wonderful wealth of content to look back on. I’d keep watching “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” over and over and over again (which is pretty much what I already do right now).
However, of course superhero films aren’t going away anytime soon, because they continue to make a boatload of money. So, what does the future look like for the two big franchises, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe (and outliers like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four)?
For the MCU, I’m very curious to see what happens (or doesn’t happen) in “Endgame,” and if this film really will serve as a reset of sorts.
Before I say what I’m going to say next, I feel like I have to repeat that I am a big MCU fan and I love all these characters. That being said, I do feel it’s time for “Endgame” to drop a big, shocking twist and send the MCU in a new direction.
Maybe that means retiring certain characters — or even killing them off, as long as it’s done in a narratively satisfying way. I love Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc., but I’m curious to see some movies with a new line-up of heroes, like Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange. I really loved the character of Carol Danvers, and I can definitely see her as the new head of the Avengers.
I’ve mentioned this before but going forward, I’d like the MCU to steer the narrative in a more cosmic direction. We’ve seen plenty of Earth-based superhero films; I want to see heroes like Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange adventuring into space or other dimensions. I want to the MCU to really blend the sci-fi and superhero genres.
I’d also like to see character-driven, smaller-scale adventures like “Spider-Man: Homecoming” that feature lower-stakes villains. “Spider-Man: Far from Home” looks like a ton of fun, and I want more of that.
It will be interesting to see if the MCU remains a box office powerhouse after “Endgame” or if interest will level off a bit. Historically, there really hasn’t been a franchise quite like the MCU, so I don’t know that we can make a prediction.
My personal guess? It’s going to take a while to build up to “Endgame”-level hype again, but I think that’s okay. Like I said, I’d love to see some smaller or more creatively risky films (like “Guardians of the Galaxy” initially was). And hey, if these films *only* make $1 billion at the box office instead of $2 billion, that’s still pretty darn good.
I do want to see an MCU Fantastic Four film eventually; there’s a ton of possibility there, and quite a bit of demand from fans to see these characters again (in a film that serves their story better). As for the X-Men, I’d actually prefer that they let that franchise rest for a while. I enjoyed the originals with Hugh Jackman, and I have also enjoyed the prequels with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. I don’t really want to see an X-Men reboot for a while, regardless of how “Dark Phoenix” turns out. Maybe they should take a break for a decade or so and then come back and revisit the characters (although Disney will probably not want to wait that long after acquiring Fox).
While the DC Extended Universe has had a more troubled trajectory than the MCU, I feel like they’re finally starting to find their footing. I loved “Wonder Woman,” and it’s one of my all-time favorite movies. I’m already hyped for the sequel. And even though “Aquaman” had its flaws, it was a lot of fun. I’m hearing good initial buzz about “Shazam!” and if it’s a hit, the DCEU is going to be in a pretty good position.
I actually don’t mind if the DCEU steers away from big team-ups like “Justice League.” The MCU does great team-up movies, but the DCEU doesn’t have to copy that or necessarily have this expansive, interconnected universe where every film is intricately tied into one overarching narrative.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of 2016’s “Suicide Squad” but I am intrigued by the notion of former “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn taking on possible writing and directing duties. Apparently he’s been rehired for the Guardians franchise, which is good news, but I also don’t want him to abandon the Suicide Squad reboot because I think he’d be a really great fit for that project. Especially if the rumors are true and Idris Elba will be joining the film.
It does sound like Ben Affleck is officially out as Batman, which makes me sad because I thought he was one of the best things about the early DCEU and is actually my favorite cinematic Batman. His solo film could have been something truly special, but Hollywood projects don’t always work out. I’ll always remember you, Batfleck!
I’m not really excited about the solo “Joker” film coming later this year; one of my geek confessions is that I’ve never really been a fan of the Joker as a character, so a standalone movie doesn’t interest me much. However, it does look like an interesting concept (it’s also separate from the DCEU), and I’m excited for those who are big fans of the character.
Finally, “Birds of Prey” looks pretty cool. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was probably the best performance in “Suicide Squad,” and a female supervillain/anti-hero team-up sounds like tons of fun.
In short, there’s a lot of superhero stuff to look forward to in the coming months and years. I guess my biggest hope is that these franchises don’t get stuck in a rut. They need to keep innovating and finding ways to make the material feel fresh. Even though “Thor: Ragnarok” wasn’t my personal favorite MCU film, I want to see these studios continue to experiment with styles and tones.