Back in 2009, Disney bought Marvel for four billion dollars. Three years later, in 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm for four billion dollars. Ever since either of these deals, both of these studios have done nothing but thrived. There are many who believe that because it is popular now, this success will last for the next four decades or more. I, on the other hand, believe this thrill ride will end before 2025.
Before going further, I’d like to make it clear I am focusing strictly on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all the Star Wars movies after The Force Awakens. Marvel Comics and the original Star Wars trilogy have been going strong for decades and will continue to go strong for decades if the past is any indication of what’s to come. With the new series of Star Wars films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, there is very little past to predict what will come.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it stands today, has only existed for eight years and has films set for the next three. The Star Wars revival series has existed for less than a single year with another film set to release this December and three more known films to follow. This constant flow of films could be very dangerous, especially in Star Wars’ case.
From 1977 to 2005, almost a thirty year time period, there were only six total Star Wars movies ever releases. From 2015 to 2019, we’ll have had five more movies added to the franchise. This is going to be incredibly harmful to future Star Wars films because Star Wars, up until now, has always been an event. By having so few over such a long period of time, a hunger has been able to grow for Star Wars amongst fans. Through this hunger, The Force Awakens was able to become the most profitable movie of all time (domestically). Sadly, Disney doesn’t see the connection between Star Wars and event but only the connection between Star Wars and profit.
Thinking the brand is profitable because of its name alone has made Disney decide to release a new Star Wars movie every year for the rest of the years. On the surface, this does seem like a good idea as it is exactly what Marvel has been doing. Marvel itself has become the highest grossing franchise of all time through this strategy. But even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe is profitable, who really cares about it?
Despite being profitable, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has not been proven to be timeless. Already, after only eight years, the older Marvel films from Phase 1 have already been forgotten due to the constant bombardment of new releases. Even The Avengers (2012) is rarely discussed anymore as the awe of seeing all these characters come together in one movie no longer exists as it is in almost every Marvel film, as well DC movies, now. The uniqueness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when it started simply isn’t there anymore.
This problem of familiarity with Marvel films goes even more into the plot structure. When broken down, just about every Marvel movie is the same with a few exceptions. For example, an arrogant man becomes humble when given some sort of power. Is this Iron Man or Doctor Strange? Or perhaps, a man turns his life around when given a special suit. Iron Man or Ant-Man? A group of misfits come together with some reluctance to destroy an army of faceless soldiers. The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy? While I do love some Marvel movies (The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy especially), they’re all very similar in plot and tone with constant jokes and being very light (having no consequences).
Seeing as Marvel films have already lost their uniqueness due to oversaturation, what prevents the same from happening to Star Wars. As I said, Star Wars is an event that doesn’t happen regularly, so will that event aspect be gone with one every year? Most likely. While the original trilogy will continue to remain popular, it’s very likely to see The Force Awakens and following films to become less and less popular over time despite making tons of box office profit. This is what I like to think of as the Avatar situation.
Avatar (2009) is the highest grossing film (internationally) of all time. Despite making so much money, nobody cares about Avatar anymore. Virtually nobody can name a single character from the film or dresses up as the Na’vi for Halloween. There are no references anywhere in pop culture to Avatar unless it’s to discuss how little effect it has had on pop culture. Why is this?
Excellently broken down in Matt Singer’s Back to Pandora article, it comes down to a few things. One, the movie is a completely visual adventure. The story does not rely on dialogue so much as it does on the spectacle aspect. The second reason, expanding on the last point, the story is lacking. Nothing more than a retelling of Dances with Wolves (1990), Avatar brings little new to offer with its story. Finally, Avatar has very generic and bland characters. There’s the good and the bad and neither have very much depth.
Does this sound familiar in anyway to Marvel movies? Large spectacles with similar and reused stories. What about The Force Awakens? Large spectacle that basically repeated the original trilogy’s plot. Yet, even though these do the same thing, both Marvel and The Force Awakens have managed to create interesting and complex characters with many dimensions.
Although it can mostly be due to constantly being put out twice (soon to be thrice) a year, Marvel movies have been able to connect with audiences in ways that Avatar hasn’t on their interesting characters alone. The Force Awakens was able to do the same thing, especially with Kylo Ren and all his flaws. It also does help that we know more of these films are to come in the next few years so we can follow these characters and their story. But can interesting characters alone carry a film through decades? Not really.
Whether we’re talking Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), or Alien (1979), even though all of these movies have fascinating characters, there’s more to them than just that. These three movies are all something new and pushed forward with new stories. While Avatar and Marvel films definitely push technology forward, their stories certainly don’t and this, besides over saturation, will ultimately be most harmful to future Marvel and Star Wars films to come.
While I wasn’t able to put it as clear as I was hoping (I need to start making my articles more relaxed, anyway. This is a blog not an English class, after all), these are my concerns when moving forward. The stories will all be retellings of each other with both Marvel and Star Wars and the over saturation we’re receiving/going to receive in both franchises will dampen the uniqueness of either. There’s also the issue of the out of control blockbuster summer films that will harm Marvel and Star Wars that I didn’t even touch upon (maybe another entry?).
Now, of course, none of these are facts with statistics but rather casual observations and concerns, but they should be thought upon and noticed. These are just some of my ramblings on why I don’t believe that films such as the Han Solo stand alone or Thor will be remembered in forty years nor be continued to be made in forty years. Ultimately, I believe the demand will be worn out around the end of the decade.