There seems to be a constant deluge of spandex as superhero movies clog up the box office and advertising airtime for much of the year. But, even when the MCU was becoming the behemoth it is today, this wasn’t always the case. Why has Marvel doubled-down on its superhero offerings? One of the best sources to answer that question has spoken up.
“It's one of the reasons we've expanded to three films a year,” Feige said, “is so that we could do the sequels to films that people have responded to — because we love to make continuing stories with characters people have responded to — but also keep doing the stuff that nobody's ever heard of, and people go, 'Why are you doing that?'” How else would Groot become one of the most beloved characters in superhero cinema history? That blend of mainstays and new, introductory fun has been the engine driving the MCU.
“That's what Phase One was built on, Phase Two was built on, Phase Three was built on,” Feige continued. “Whenever we announce the next year, two years, three years, five years, whatever we're going to announce, there will be plenty of those that, maybe people in the know like yourself will know what they are, but the world at large will go, 'What is it? Why are they doing that?' That's exciting, for sure.” That’s anticipating a crazy amount of movies in the future, however. Exponential growth as more and more superheroes are announced, connect with audiences, and earn trilogies of their own.
So “when you've got, what is it now, six, seven separate franchises?” explains Feige, “it's part of the scheduling process.” When determining what heroes get which movies when - which can mean deeper story arcs, better characters, and more importance for key actors - it all comes down to timing. “How many years between movies can you have? You know, [Thor:] Ragnarok was four years” after the previous Thor film, Feige said. “He had an appearance in between there. So that seems to be maybe okay - sometimes, though, you want it to be less. Sometimes it can be more.” That’s been the case for Doctor Strange, for example. His sequel isn’t coming for a bit, so his role in Infinity War was a good way to tide fans over.
Juggling the appetites of specific superheroes’ fans, the narrative concerns of the larger story, and the ever-expanding roster of heroes will inevitably make the MCU a complicated network to navigate - and it sounds like Feige is already feeling the constraints to growth as it becomes more and more complex.