Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why Won't Marvel Shut Up and Take My Money?

I know, I know. It was only four months ago that I wrote my love letter to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I look back at that woman and want to just shake my head and say, "oh, you sweet summer child." I was so full of hope. So sure that Marvel could do no wrong. Those hopes, dear readers, have been violently dashed over the last several months.

I'm not even going to talk about the lack of Black Widow, Princess Leia, and Gamora merchandise or their respective hashtag campaigns (or the fact that this is because Disney is under the impression that boys of all ages think girls are icky, so don't put Gamora on their t-shirts). Let's just talk about the movies.

First, they tore Edgar Wright's Ant-Man script to shreds and pushed him out of the project he has been attached to for eight years. It was Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman fiasco all over again. Wright's Ant-Man was going to be perfect (as all his films are) and that's a perfect film I am never going to see.

Then they offered the project to several writers/directors, many of whom turn the offer down because you don't do that to someone like Edgar Wright. The writers who do accept the job (Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari) have a shorter resume on IMDB than I do and the only reason Adam McKay is helping them pick up the pieces is because of Paul Rudd. To top it off, the director they eventually hired (Peyton Reed) is the mastermind behind classic comedies such as Bring it On, Down With Love, and The Breakup.

Then Kevin Feige had the balls to say (or didn't have the balls and stand up to Disney and not say) that Ant-Man is "in the best shape it's ever been" under Reed.

The more I hear about this film, the more I'm convinced it's going to be the worst film to come out of Marvel Studios.

But the real icing on this cake of disillusionment has been Feige's comments on the possibility of a female super hero movie. His "blowing smoke out of my ass" comments have gone back to 2012 when Avengers was released. (Thanks to Angie Han at SlashFilm for this compiled history of Feige quotes)

April 2012: Avengers is pretty much a Black Widow movie plus, we're busy.

"Well, I think you saw it in Avengers. I think that’s one of the many amazing things Joss Whedon can do. I think people are going to be surprised by how powerful Scarlett is in this movie, and how evolved her role is... A lot of it is that we’re only going to make two movies a year, maybe sometimes it’ll be one movie a year like this year, maybe someday it’ll be three movies a year just depending on what comes together. But really, it’s two movies. So there’s kind of a backup on the runway right now in terms of when can something go."

May 2013: It's just a matter of time but we're busy right now.

“We have a number of candidates from the comics and from the movies we've already made. It’s just a matter of finding the right storyline, the right filmmaker, the right time.” 

October 2013: We have ideas, but you already have Pepper Potts, Jane Foster, and Black Widow, and they'll have to tide you over, cause we're busy.

"I know we have numerous exciting female heroes, whether none of them are currently slated, some of them are in development -- frankly, you can look at what Jane Foster does in [Thor: The Dark World], look at Pepper Potts literally saving the day and defeating the bad guy in Iron Man 3, and I'd say we already have great female heroes that are showcased and play major roles in our universe now. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as you will see, features Black Widow in her biggest role yet in any of our films. In terms of a solo stand-alone female hero, I'm not sure when that will be. We make two movies a year, we've planned through 2015 and we have some ideas of what we're doing in 2016 and 2017, so we'll see what happens."

March 2014: Oh, we have better ideas than Black Widow, but we can't do any of them yet cause you know, we're busy.

"What people are really saying is 'When are you doing a standalone female superhero movie?' The answer is: I don’t know. We only do two a year, we know more or less what’s coming up through ‘16/’17... I’m very proud of the way the Marvel movies handle the female characters who are in all the movies we are making, as opposed to feeling the pressure of ‘When are you doing a female movie?’ We’re exploring a lot of Widow, and that’s going to continue with Age of Ultron in a big way... Frankly if we do a Black Widow movie after Age of Ultron, when she’s been central in three or four movies I don’t think we’d get the quote unquote credit for it. People would say ‘She’s already a big giant superhero!’ But if we had a great idea, we’d do it... I like the idea if we’re going to do a [female lead] do a new one. Do a wholly new character, do an origin story."

April 2014: Winter Soldier was basically a Black Widow film, and Ultron will be too, so...

"But people would ask me on the floor of the Thor: The Dark World junket, 'Are you’re doing a Black Widow movie?' And part of me wanted to say, 'Well, we did, and it’s called Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Wait until you see it!' The emphasis we put on our characters, and in particular our female leads in all our movies, is very important to us. And showcase extremely strong, intelligent woman that control the course of the entire movie and the entire plot, and that absolutely carries over into Scarlett’s role in Age of Ultron."

July 2014: STFU, fans. We do what we want. Plus we have TWO black people in our films. TWO! DIVERSITY! *fist pump*

"Well, yes. I don’t think J.J. Abrams or the ‘Star Wars’ people — I have no idea — but my guess is that they were not swayed by any backlash. We’re not going to be swayed by the backlash. We’re going to keep bringing the movies out the way we envision it and the way we believe in it — and that includes diversity in all of the active films. And certainly, on our development slate of many of the characters — some of which you just named — and always being conscious of that."

August 2014: We totes want to do a lady movie cuz we know it's gonna make us money, but srsly, we're super busy.

"I think it comes down to timing, which is what I've sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story. I very much believe in doing it. I very much believe that it's unfair to say, 'People don't want to see movies with female heroes,' then list five movies that were not very good, therefore, people didn't go to the movies because they weren't good movies, versus [because] they were female leads. And they don't mention "Hunger Games," "Frozen," "Divergent." You can go back to "Kill Bill" or "Aliens." These are all female-led movies. It can certainly be done. I hope we do it sooner rather than later. But we find ourselves in the very strange position of managing more franchises than most people have -- which is a very, very good thing and we don't take for granted, but is a challenging thing. You may notice from those release dates, we have three for 2017. And that's because just the timing worked on what was sort of gearing up. But it does mean you have to put one franchise on hold for three or four years in order to introduce a new one? I don't know. Those are the kinds of chess matches we're playing right now."

Look, I'm fine with Feige and Marvel holding off on a female super hero movie until it fits in with the story, but here's the thing - if you want her to fit in with the story, you have to write her into the story. Don't tell me Captain Marvel doesn't fit in right now, because she tends to hang around with both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I sometimes wonder how much of this is because of Disney and if Marvel really has the autonomy they said they would when Disney bought them in 2009. I do think that plays in with the Ant-Man fiasco, but Feige has successfully sold Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and freaking Dr. Strange to Disney execs. Captain Marvel certainly would be an easier sell, especially after Frozen. Or is that just me being optimistic?

I hope I'm wrong. I hope all this is just Marvel being coy and that one of the many release dates they have reserved is tied to a Captain Marvel or other female super hero movie. But given Hollywood's track record, I don't think it's irrational of me to assume that I'm right.

In conclusion, I would like to use a very special gif. I have historically reserved it only in instances where we discuss how "tricky" Wonder Woman is. However, given the circumstances, I'd say it's appropriate here.

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