We may not see Iron Man 4 or Black Panther 3 at the MCU | digital trends

The once mighty Marvel brand has taken a beating recently. While the studio’s latest film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, broke records and grossed over $120 million in its opening weekend, received generally negative reviews from critics and audiences alike, with subsequent weekends seeing a dramatic decline in attendance. The Paul Rudd/Jonathan Majors third is the rare Marvel movie to earn less than its predecessors, and some outlets, including Variety and Digital Trends, have openly questioned the value of the brand. Is Hollywood’s most successful studio finally experiencing audience fatigue?

That question was surprisingly answered, sort of, by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who recently gave a speech at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference. Regarding Marvel, Iger said that “sequels generally worked well for us. Do you need a third and a fourth, for example? Or is it time to turn to other characters? It’s a rhetorical question, of course, as the respected executive openly questions Marvel’s largely profitable strategy of producing three (from 2013) sequels. iron Man 3 to last month how many) and the strange fourquel (2022’s terrible Thor: Love and Thunder). But is he right? And if it isn’t, what should Marvel’s approach be after suffering a rare and very public flop?

Is Iron Man 4 off the table?

Taking Iger’s comments at face value, it’s clear he’s referring to the disappointing performance of the third Ant-Man movie. A lot of people questioned the need for a third Ant-Man movie even earlier. how many opened, and the lukewarm reception seemed to confirm those early fears.

Does this mean there won’t be any more sequels for other popular Marvel characters? Iron Man is dead, sure, but the multiverse can bring anyone back; just look at Loki and his fantastic Disney+ sci-fi show. Is iron man 4 starring in an alternate Tony Stark now impossible? Since its disastrous big-budget flop in 2020 dolittleDowney has remained low-key, preferring to produce high-profile hit TV shows like perry mason (now back for a second season on HBO Max) and Sweet tooth, which is the rare comic book adaptation hit to get a second season on the cancellation-hungry streamer. It’s not hard to imagine the actor returning to a role that a.) he clearly loved playing and b.) audiences loved watching.

In fact, let’s imagine it. Like almost all Marvel comic book characters, the Tony Stark version of Iron Man has had many iterations over the years. There are too many to list without this turning into some comic book nerd wormhole, but it’s not too hard to imagine Downey Jr. playing Iron Man Noir (set in an alternate universe with Iron Man living in the 1940s) or an Iron Man who becomes the Sorcerer Supreme.

Iron Man 2020 poses in a Marvel comic.

Hell, it’s plausible that the actor could play Arno Stark, a future relative of Tony’s, commonly known to fans as Iron Man 2020. Just imagine what a movie version of this would look like with Downey as Arno with a visionary director like Denis. Villeneuve in command of a cyberpunk version of the character. Through the intertwining miracles of the Marvel multiverse, CGI that can wipe decades of age, and a star whose box office record had been terrible since his departure from the MCU, anything It’s possible, so Downey’s return as Iron Man doesn’t seem too far-fetched. But if Iger has his way, iron man 4 it would be a failure; Tony is not a new character, and iron Man 3 It was not as well received by critics and the public as the first Iron Man.

Wakanda… never? Why Black Panther 3 Should Still Happen

Danai Gurira and Angela Bassett stare at each other in a scene from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

And what about a much more likely sequel, like black panther 3, who has already been teased by leading lady Letitia Wright? The first, and so far only, sequel to Black Panther, wakandan forever, grossed more than $850 million at the worldwide box office and earned Marvel its first Oscar nomination for Angela Bassett’s fiery performance as the grieving and fiery Queen Ramonda. Less prominent, but just as impressive, are the film’s other nominations for Best Costumes, Best Song, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects. It’s obvious, but I’ll point it out anyway: These nominations were all for a sequel. In his efforts to preserve the Marvel brand, is Iger killing his cash cow?

Technically, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever committed the same sins as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: both films made less money than their predecessors; fans were less happy with these follow-ups than they were with the originals; and critics were less enthusiastic about these installments than they were about the previous one.

However, what separates the sequel from Black Panther of how many it’s that it opens up the MCU to more intriguing storytelling possibilities while also honoring what audiences loved about those characters in the first place. It was always going to be impossible for Marvel and director Ryan Coogler to match the impact of the original due to the unfortunate passing of Chadwick Boseman and the unique nature of the type of him who Black Panther owned when it was released in February 2018.

Namor descending to his throne in the underwater city of Talokan in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

So instead of trying to imitate the original, they decided to expand the scope of Wakanda by presenting Namor and his underwater kingdom as compelling and sympathetic antagonists, giving Ironheart a spotlight to shine, and emphasizing the power and intelligence of the leading women. and Wakanda warriors. wakandan forever it did what all sequels should do: expand on what was built on in the original and introduce enough new elements to make things interesting. When the credits rolled after the movie, I wanted more, a feeling I didn’t get afterwards. how many luckily it ended.

All that progress and thoughtful world-building would be for nothing if black panther 3 it’s canned due to Iger’s new edict of “no aftermath.” Shuri’s continued evolution as the new Black Panther, Nakia’s newfound role as the mother of T’Challa’s child, and a Wakanda without Ramonda and facing the constant threat of Namor will not be explored on the big canvas, and the small screen. it is too. Well, little one, consigning these characters and stories to a six-episode Disney+ series. The Black Panther franchise should not pay the price for ant man 3The flops of and should be allowed a theatrical platform to explore the narrative seeds it planted in the first two films.

The way forward for the UCM

Kang walks on a battlefield in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

In his efforts to defend one of Disney’s most prized assets, Iger emphasized that all is well with the MCU. “There is nothing inherently out of place in terms of the Marvel brand,” Iger said. “I think we just have to see what characters and stories we’re pulling, and you look at Marvel’s trajectory over the next five years, you’ll see a lot of firsts. We’re going back to the Avengers franchise, but with a completely different set of Avengers.”

Iger is not entirely wrong here; It’s always worth adding new characters into the mix to keep everything fresh. However, the new characters are not the antidote to what ails Marvel; After all, no one wants to watch a D-Man movie or a Great Lakes Avengers miniseries. [Editor’s note: I’d actually love to see a Great Lakes Avengers series, but I fully realize this is a niche interest that few, if any, share.] It would be in Marvel’s best interest to look at what has worked in the past and make movies, whether original or fourth and fifth installments, that stay true to what made those characters so compelling in the first place.

And no, that doesn’t mean just more Avengers movies, either. It’s not the fact that Ant-Man has a second sequel that’s inherently wrong; it’s just what Marvel decided to do with him that turned out to be a disaster. Marvel forgot that Ant-Man works best when the stakes are smaller than huge. The first two Ant-Man movies had a charm in that the world, let alone the multiverse, was not at stake; instead, he focused on Scott’s desire to be a better man and father to his little girl. In their quest to expand the multiverse and promote Kang as a Thanos-level bad guy, Marvel sacrificed a character and intellectual property that didn’t really need to change.

Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

So who decides which movie gets a sequel, and which hero is worthy enough to merit a feature-length exhibition? Well, Iger, of course, and Kevin Feige and all the higher-ups at Marvel, but fans, if they’re vocal enough, get their say too. I personally want a iron man 4to black panther 3and a shangchi 2. And even though he was lukewarm in his previous installments, I can be down with a eternal 2 or even a Thor 5 as long as Marvel stays true to their characters and doesn’t make them into something they’re not.

I know I keep repeating myself here, but it keeps repeating itself because I think Marvel is learning the wrong lesson here. It’s not the fallout from B-grade characters that’s the problem; is what they are doing with them that is. Don’t make an Ant-Man trio that’s really a cheap Fantastic Four movie in disguise and don’t make a Thor trio that shows contempt for the characters. The MCU worked, and it worked for a long time because there was enthusiasm and respect for the source material. Thatit’s what’s been missing, and that’s what Iger should fix if the MCU has any chance of a stable future.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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