Kevin Feige who has been a producer on every Marvel cinematic release was having a movie run like no other and although the pandemic did not help the momentum of the Marvel films, releasing back to back movies (Shang-Chi & The Eternals) with new characters non-comic readers likely did not know was more of a problem than the pandemic for the movies. The slow down started with Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson, a movie that was definitely impacted by the pandemic and is now the holder of the lowest gross of any Marvel movie worldwide. The movie was good, but with so much time passing since the last Marvel film audiences had to think harder about what was going on within the entire universe. Last time we saw this character she was jumping to her death, so the first thing movie goers had to figure out was whether she had come back from the dead or when is this movie taking place?
Next came Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings starring Canadian martial artist Simu Liu and the ubiquitous Awkwafina. Even non-comic book fans could understand how you can add a martial artist to the Marvel Universe, but instead of focusing on his martial arts skills, Marvel chose to give more screen time to Awkwafina’s comedy act and made this feel like a DC movie than the MCU. Putting Benedict Wong in one scene and adding a confusing post-credit scene wasn’t enough to make this feel like the Marvel Universe pre-pandemic.
Right on the heels of adding a new character to possibly replace an Avenger we lost, Marvel made the choice to bombard us with The Eternals and ten new characters! As I write this, I cannot remember the names of even two of them. Not sure whose idea it was to follow a movie introducing a brand new character (Shang-Chi) with one featuring ten new characters; none of whom seem very memorable. Did Kevin Feige, who masterfully guided the Marvel Universe with 25 solid outings, suddenly forget how to bring new characters into the mix? At the same time we have Thor, Hulk, Guardians, et al. just waiting in the wings? Did someone at Disney say “you know we need some new Avengers. Let’s make back to back movies and throw a bunch of characters in so we don’t suddenly run out.” “Great Idea Mr. Chapek!” I’m not sure whose decision it was, but I am confused.
Then they follow up with good ole dependable Spider-Man. I predicted months ago this would be the biggest movie of the year (money-wise), but I never said it was going to be the best. With all the rumors swirling around about bringing back all three former Spider-Men and seeing the villains from the older movies, it definitely made people curious. But the movie seemed a bit flat and I honestly just wanted to survive it more than enjoy it. We also have to remember that Spider-Man belongs to Sony not Marvel. With Tom Holland having fulfilled his five movie commitment to play Spider-Man, will he even return? And where were the Eternal cameos in Spider-Man: No Way Home?