After a decade of releasing the highest-grossing films of the year, the studio has seen a downturn in ticket sales – and general enthusiasm – since the release of Avengers: Endgame in 2019. The blockbuster was billed as the conclusion to a “22-movie arc”.
Since then, Marvel has launched fresh franchises led by new characters on both the big and small screen, including Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), the Eternals (including Angelina Jolie and Gemma Chan) and Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight.
However, even Disney CEO Bob Iger said this was too much, arguing that the quantity of shows has “diluted” audience interest in the spin-offs. Many fans have struggled to keep up with the output, with general interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) seemingly at an all-time low.
Advance ticket sales are reportedly down for Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, which is set to be released next week. One reason for this could be that the sequel is not just a continuation of Captain Marvel, but will be also serve as a follow-up to TV shows WandaVision and Ms Marvel.
While the MCU’s impressive continuity is something many fans loved initially, it seems Marvel has cottoned on to the fact that viewers now feel intimidated by the amount of information they need to know before going into a new release.
With this in mind, Marvel is launching a new sub-category of projects named Marvel Spotlight, which will be heralded by a new theme composed by Michael Giacchino.
This intro, which was announced at a screening of forthcoming series Echo, will serve as a disclaimer alerting fans that the film or TV show they’re about to watch can be enjoyed on its own merit without needing to have seen anything beforehand.
Marvel.com reported that Marvel Studios’s Head of Streaming, Brad Winderbaum, said: “Marvel Spotlight gives us a platform to bring more grounded, character-driven stories to the screen, and in the case of Echo, focusing on street-level stakes over larger MCU continuity.”
This sub-category is inspired by an anthology seres of Marvel Comics, also called Marvel Spotlight, that were first released in 1971.
Winderbaum continued: “Just like comics fans didn’t need to read Avengers or Fantastic Four to enjoy a Ghost Rider Spotlight comic, our audience doesn’t need to have seen other Marvel series to understand what’s happening in Maya’s story.”
Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), who is the main character in Echo, was first introduced in TV show Hawkeye. The series will also bring back Vincent D’Onoforio’s villainous Kingpin, who was first seen in Netflix’s cancelled Daredevil series, and then again in Hawkeye.
While it remains unknown whether Maya will appear in another future series, Daredevil: Born Again, D’Onofrio ha been confirmed to reprise the role of Kingpin once again so, while these shows will be able to be enjoyed as standalones, it’s likely there will be details to spot for the die-hards who watch every project.
Whether this will lead to an uptick in interest remains to be seen. The Marvels will be released in cinemas on 10 November, with all 10 episodes of Echo set to be unveiled at once on 10 January. A release date for Daredevi: Born Again is yet to be announced.