Yesterday Disney showed a multi-year line-up of movies as part of its ongoing merger with 21st Century Fox. There is plenty to see on the list as the studio owns Star Wars, the Marcel Cinematic universe, its own well-stocked lineup and Avatar. For the latter it has been announced that the first of FOUR sequels will be released in 2021 – with a 2 year release cadence. All this news gives me mixed feelings – which I intend to discuss below.
Star Wars + Disney
Star Wars is with me on an almost daily basis. That has been the case since my childhood. Currently I am listening to Master and Apprentice, a novel set before The Phantom Menace. It features the relationship of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. What I guessed would be another mediocre book has so far turned out to be quite good. Expect a review by the end of the week.
Meanwhile Disney continues to bet on Star Wars in a big time. From Episode 9 to an entire theme land. The movie studio has long ago announced there would be another trilogy after this one. And from the multi-year planning it becomes clear this trilogy will start in 2022. It is unclear who might be helming it, it could be Rian Johnson, but my money is on David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
So far there have been plenty of missteps with the new sequel trilogy. While I am not in the amp of trashing it I also don’t think it is particularly good. It suffers from too many convenient twists and turns, and I don’t care much for the primary characters beyond Kylo Ren and Rey. Add to that a poor video game strategy and a so-so canon and I am wondering if by 2022 I will have left the franchise, let alone 2024 and 2026 when the sequels are released.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
With Avengers Endgame the Russo Brothers proved that subverting expectations can work. It was probably one of the best movies I have ever seen. That from a franchise which while thoroughly enjoyable could not be said to be great. With 22 movies the franchise had it ups and downs. Though over time it only become better. I became a solid fan after the Winter Soldier in 2014 and Civil War in 2016 sealed it. But now the third and final phase of the MCU is over.
Technically there is still Spider-Man Far From Home this summer but there is debate as to whether it counts. And yet Marvel will be back. Kevin Feige has stated that there won’t be any ‘phases’, instead there will be a series of standalone movies that might become part of a larger story down the road. That feels like a return to the early years of the MCU. With movies such as Black Widow, Dr. Strange 2 and Black Panther 2 there is plenty of name recognition. Maybe there is too much. I personally also want to see Ant-Man 3 (or a Wasp standalone) and Captain Marvel 2. No doubt these are in the pipeline, but if there are 2 or 3 Marvel movies per year you could end up having to wait a while for your favorite hero to appear on the big screen.
It has been 10 years since James Cameron’s movie Avatar was released. I remember looking forward to that movie since the first rumors started in the mid 90s. James Cameron is a fantastic director, but his release schedule has significant gaps in it.
I have to be honest with myself. Am I really looking forward to Avatar 2, or 3, or 4, or 5? Not really, the first movie was good. It had fantastic special effect, a good cast and it reminded me of a sci-fi novel – The Reality Dysfuntion by Peter F. Hamilton. Yet, the movie was a quite silly. In my opinion the story of tied up neatly leaving little need for a sequel let alone 4.
And yet, Disney is betting on heavily on Avatar. The original made over 2.5 billion so who wouldn’t to try that again. I know a movie studio starting with capital D that would. Besides the original cast of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Signourney Weaver and Stephen Lang the cast has been extended with Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh and Oona Chaplin. That makes things better. though I fear to an extent that the Avatar movies will become variations on a theme.
So is Disney on the right track with these franchises. According to some they are simply giving the audience what they want, while accusation is milking it are also never far away.