If Kevin Feige's recent interview is to be believed, Marvel Studios is already hard at work on their fourth wave of movies - After the first wave of Iron Man and Incredible Hulk, second wave of Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers and the mysterious third wave of Runaways, Ant Man and whatever else may be in the pipeline. The problem? Well, the size of this new range, for one thing.
Feige said that, following Avengers,
Thor will go off into a new adventure, and Captain America will continue to explore the modern world in another film of his own. We hope that holds true for the characters appearing in that film — Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the spy organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. —all of whom are more than worthy and capable of carrying their own films. And, we've got a lot of other characters we're prepping and getting ready for film debuts: the world of martial arts, these great cosmic space fantasies, Dr. Strange, and the magic side of the Marvel Universe. There are many, many stories to be mined.
So, wait: Sequels for Thor and Cap, that was pretty much expected. A SHIELD movie has been rumored for awhile, with Samuel L. Jackson fanning those flames as he likes to, but solo movies for Black Widow and Hawkeye? Really? Perhaps I'm biased by my years of comic experience and seeing titles featuring those characters crash and burn with spectacular speed (Hawkeye and Mockingbird, we hardly knew you), but the idea that either character is actually strong enough to carry a film by themselves feels a little like wishful thinking or overextending the brand - better, surely, to let one or both characters anchor the SHIELD movie alongside Nick Fury?
But that's not all: Feige also hints at movies for Iron Fist (presumably the "martial arts" movie, considering rumors of a script already being developed for the character), "great cosmic space fantasies" (Nova, perhaps? Although whether a movie audience would be able to look beyond the similarities to Green Lantern would be an interesting experiment) and Doctor Strange, on top of the Avengers sequel which would appear to be inevitable. Doesn't that seem like a lot of movies for a studio that's so far seemed to only be able a workload of two movies at a time? Less than a fourth wave, the seeming suggestion of nine movies makes this latest batch into a tsunami or sorts.
Interestingly enough, though, the non-Avengers-related movies all seem to be moving away from the superheroic elements to an extent, and into other genres. It's a smart move, and one that may keep the company afloat when the superhero bubble bursts, but I can't help but wonder whether audiences will respond in a positive way to something outside of Marvel's sweet spot when that's already on offer from every other major studio. Once Marvel loses its home court advantage, will audiences really care? And if not, will we see a contraction of plans to concentrate only on what it knows best, again?