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When Marvel Studios released James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2014, they did much more than just introduce an amazing group of new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The blockbuster was also the first legitimate step for Marvel Cosmic on the big screen. After nine primarily Earthbound stories, audiences had the chance to go far beyond even the nine realms featured in the Thor movies and start to learn about the vast variety of life that lives in the far reaches of the universe.
Guardians of the Galaxy quickly became one of the most popular brands in the Marvel world, opening up endless potential for cosmic cinematic stories in the franchise – but there is a hitch that comes with that success. There are only so many blockbusters that can be released in a given year, and the studio has to weigh demand for both material on Earth, and out in outer space. It’s a complication that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is definitely aware of, as I learned sitting down with him for an interview last week:
It's always a balance, and it's always led by the journey of whatever character we're bringing to the screen. And I love that we can do both. And I love that Doctor Strange goes to another place, and I love that Ant-Man And The Wasp goes to another place. So it all is just the embarrassment of riches of the Marvel Comics at our disposal.
I spoke with Kevin Feige during the Los Angeles press day for Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s upcoming Captain Marvel, and it felt like a perfect setting to bring up the subject – given that Carol Danvers as a character who has one foot here on our home planet, and the other beyond the stars. And while the situation presented is one that certainly offers challenges from an executive position, Feige definitely sees the positives in it, as it means that the mainstream audiences are excited to travel to all the crazy worlds to which the heroes take us.
As has been emphasized many times in recent years, Marvel Studios is not officially announcing their plans beyond the films released in 2019 until their films in 2019 have been released – but we have certainly learned about material they have cooking, and it does include a mix of both cosmic and Earthbound material. In the former category we have both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (which is currently looking for a director to replace James Gunn) and Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals; and in the latter there is Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther 2, Cate Shorthand’s Black Widow, and Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange 2.
All things considered, and knowing there are still many more projects coming our way, that’s pretty balanced – but it should be noted that the specific numbers aren’t exactly meant to ultimately be exact. Kevin Feige stressed that they aren’t creating columns and tally marks – but also added that the history of Marvel Comics have seen even numbers of both cosmic and Earth-set stories. Said the filmmaker,
I wouldn't say it's that we have to sit and go, 'Wait a minute, there are three space [stories], so we need two Earth [stories].' It's not like that. But I think because the stories in the comics are relatively balanced in terms of both that that's what we end up seeing in the movies.
Considering this as someone who has read a lot of those relatively balanced space and Earth comics, it’s exciting to think about what’s possible for the big screen in the future. Take, for example, the year 2006 for Marvel Comics, which was a period that saw the company execute two massive events in the pages of their various magazines: Civil War and Annihilation. This was possible because there was no real overlap between them; one was a massive conflict that played out entirely on Earth, and the other was exclusively in space. It’s not unimaginable that we could see Marvel Studios someday execute something very similar, going as far as to establish two disparate epic storylines, each involving multiple series, that culminate at the same time offering two completely different experiences for audiences.
It’s not only fun to think about what’s coming in the distant future, however, as Marvel Studios has some greatness coming your way very, very soon. Specifically, Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Lashana Lynch, Jude Law, Annette Bening, and Ben Mendelsohn, is now just a little over a week away, set to hit theaters on March 5th. I’ll have plenty more for you from my interview with Kevin Feige between now and then, so be on the look out here on CinemaBlend.