Are you suffering from ailment-of-the-moment ‘franchise fatigue’? Find your eyes rolling uncontrollably when you hear talk of new expanded movie universes, surprise prequels or narratively linked spin-offs? Getting the shakes at the idea of the next 25 years of actors earnestly talking about the acting challenges of pretending to hit a nasty alien with their big foam weapon?
Well, you may be in luck – because coming up, two of the world’s biggest and most successful franchises are taking a little break.
Following the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home in July we won’t be getting any new Marvel superhero movies until next summer, an apparent attempt to let huge crossover movie Avengers: Endgame “sit” for a bit before the studio’s new paradigm – a bunch of films not based around the Avengers, the Infinity Stones, Iron Man or Captain America – is unveiled to the world.
While it’s less than a year between Far From Home and the next Marvel movie (the release date, if not the film itself, has been confirmed) hardly a “gap” by any traditional standards, Marvel’s recent model has been to release at least three movies a year, so fans have rarely had to face more than a few months at a time without a release.
In this period, fans will be far from bereft when it comes to Star Wars and Marvel content, with new Disney+ streaming series set to include a Star Wars western called the Mandalorian, a spy drama including some characters from 2016’s Rogue One. Marvel characters like Loki, Falcon and the Winter Soldier are also getting their own shows on the small screen. Perhaps the slight breather for both franchises (obviously more pronounced for Star Wars) is at least partially an attempt to increase focus on these new streaming products.
Still, I personally can’t wait to have a bit of a break from first Marvel, then Star Wars. As a kid, the idea of TOO MUCH of the exciting big-screen stories I loved would be unimaginable, but then again, I could never possibly have imagined that popular culture would be so dominated by my slightly niche interest in extended Star Wars stories and B-list superheroes (Iron Man was NOT exactly top-tier, popularity-wise).
Now, I feel like my brain – and the box office – needs something a little like Glastonbury’s fallow year, allowing the metaphorical grass of audience expectation and enjoyment to recover and return to normal levels before starting things all over again.
Star Wars in particular could use a bit of a break, following – to torture this analogy even further – a slightly scorched-earth policy of releasing more movies in half a decade than the franchise had previously managed in 20 years.
After the comparatively poor showing for Solo: A Star Wars story (following a troubled production that also made it unusually expensive) LucasFilm reportedly canned a few planned movie projects to rethink their strategy, and even if “Star Wars fatigue” isn’t necessarily real – personally I just don’t think the film was well-marketed – it can’t hurt to try out the old “absence makes the heart grow fonder” routine.
In short, I don’t think we need a break because any of these films are bad, or that they’re bad for cinema. I think we need to give the films a break to keep them as good and enjoyable as they are. If anything I wouldn’t have minded an even longer rest for the MCU – rumour has it Marvel wanted to leave Endgame as its own statement for at least a year, but Sony (who release Spider-Man with Marvel) wanted a release of their own.
Now, all I need to do is find something to watch this autumn and early next year. Anyone for the Downton Abbey Extended Universe?
Spider-Man: Far From Home is released on the 2nd July