Thomas Roach on whether Marvel Studios can sustain the Cinematic Universe without the original line-up of characters…
Marvel Studios is still going strong and with the sucess of the rather obscure Guardians of the Galaxy many people now believe that the current characters will eventually be phased out in favor of new ones. The original Avengers line up will still likely be around until The Avengers 3 and are all set to appear in the highly anticpated Avengers: Age of Ultron which is set for release in May. Despite the sucess of Guardians of the Galaxy, saying goodbye to these much loved characters who have featured since the inception of the MCU may be more difficult.
Something that keeps getting brought up is the actors as well as the characters. Robert Downey Jr. esepcially is loved by so many fans who will go and see a film for him instead of the character of Iron Man. Downey has said that he won’t play the character forever and Kevin Feige has stated that the character could be recast or reinvented. Some have suggested that James Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, could take up the Iron Man mantle once Robert Downey Jr. leaves. There has also been indications that Chris Evans will give up the Captain America character in the near future. Many have speculated that Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier will take on the role of Captain America after Chris Evans leaves, or even Sam Wilson / Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie.
This may or may not work as we are attached to the actors as much as we are attached to the characters themselves. If the current roster of superheroes is replaced with characters in the existing universe then fans may feel cheated. Frankly it may be better off to recast the actors, but have the characters themselves stay the same. Many people who see the films are not so immersed in the source material and frankly they are the largest audience for Marvel. Essentially comic book fans are a niche in some ways when these films do so well at the box office. People will see the films as it is a summer blockbuster rather than being huge fans of the comic books.
Even if new these iconic characters are not replaced / recast, new heroes are being introduced. In Avengers: Age of Ultron we are set to see Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch as well as The Vision. These characters will likely appear in future Marvel films – either standalone or in future Avengers/team up movies. There is also a great deal of talk around the characters Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Ms. Marvel becoming full time Avengers in the future and this will push out some of the characters from the existing line up.
Whilst these characters may end up being loved when introduced to a new generation of cinema goers, not having the original line up of Avengers present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe may harm the brand. Marvel would like to think that once we see characters such as Doctor Strange and Black Panther that we will like them a lot more that Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. We have got to know the current roster of characters over several films now, and by the time new heroes have been introduced they will still be as likeable as ever. Even with the sucess of Guardians of the Galaxy, we still need to get to know the characters more before they reach the level of Iron Man and company. So, it’s a good thing that a sequel for Guardians of the Galaxy is already on its way.
If Marvel do decide to phase out their original roster, I think audiences will have a tough time letting go of characters that they have built a relationship with since Iron Man back in 2008. In a way, it is too early to tell how the new characters will be recieved. Some are calling Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) the new Iron Man, so maybe it is nothing to worry about. However would you happily say goodbye to Tony Stark for Peter Quill, or would you rather have both? Marvel may struggle to intergrate new characters and replace iconic ones, but we could be pleasantly surprised by how much we like these new characters when the time comes.
Let us know how you would react to saying goodbye to much loved characters such as Iron Man and Captain America…