The Editor’s Notes is an opinion column allowing our writers to express their honest feelings about comic books, the comic book industry, and all that it inspires. The views expressed within belong solely to their author.
Marvel Studios’ man in charge, Kevin Feige recently made comments implying that movies based on Black Panther and Ms./Captain Marvel are in development. Fegie said this was due not just to the viability of the properties as films, but largely due to fan enthusiasm:
“They’re both characters that we like, that development work has been done on and continues to be done on and certainly the public… it’s a question I get asked more than anything else. More than Iron Man 4. More than The Avengers 3. And that’s sort of the fist time that’s really happened to us so I think that makes a difference. I think that’s something we have to pay attention to… I think it is a groundswell. I think it does. I think it means something substantial.”
Fans, naturally, have rejoiced. Totally logical – I mean, this is Kevin Feige, guys! He who signs the paychecks and makes the decisions at Marvel Studios! He thinks what we want is substantial. If he’s got people on it, it’s gonna get done.
Probably not, though.
Looking at Kevin Feige’s recent history and his hands-on approach with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this announcement is likely little more than an empty statement meant to placate fans through acknowledgement of desire, and not a genuine statement of intent.
This doesn’t mean T’Challa and Carol will never show up in the MCU. They almost certainly will – each are rumored for cameos in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and previous films have set things up to allow for their introduction. But there is any number of reasons we wouldn’t be getting Carol and T’Challa solo movies.
The conventional wisdom that you just need a white dude as the face of your action movie for Mainstream America to care. That many of the 2000s superheroine/female-led action movies – Catwoman, Elektra, Aeon Flux, Ultraviolet – underperformed at the box office, and in doing so destroyed Black Widow while that was in development, years before Iron Man was a twinkle in anyone’s eye (no, really). That although Blade was huge, Mainstream America can and will more easily accept a black man as a criminal than a genius and king.
At the end of the day those are going to be justifications for not making Ms. Marvel and Black Panther movies – justifications Kevin Feige probably considered when planning the MCU. But even if those were not justifications, chances are we still won’t get those films in the near future. Not because Kevin Feige is a part of Hollywood’s racist and sexist system – but because he probably doesn’t actually want to.
I’m not saying Feige would rather salt the earth than put Carol Danvers or T’Challa on screen. He would probably go see those movies in a heartbeat since he got his start on X-Men for being such a fanboy nerd in the first place. But Kevin Feige is, more than anything, a man with a plan. Specifically, a plan that has movies slated through 2028. This is practically unheard of – basically no one has films set up fourteen years in the future because it’s impossible to predict the marketplace fourteen years in the future. But Kevin Feige is doing it anyway, and there is no logical reason for him to mess with a plan that has served him well to the tune billions of dollars internationally. The guy even said so, right after putting that nice shiny carrot in front of us:
“I’ve always said we have our plan and it served us very well and there hasn’t been anything that has made us deviate or change from that based on opinion because opinions online change and they alter, and they’re based on sort of limited information they have towards what’s going on behind-the-scenes.”
There you have it – we hear you loud and clear, but don’t think we’re gonna lose sleep over it.
Even if the demands for Carol and T’Challa continue and grow louder, it’s still unlikely that Feige cares enough to give the production a greenlight. He has been gaining a reputation for being… “hands on” with his films recently. Thor: The Dark World was was hacked to bits in the editing room, and for the worse – much to the displeasure of director Alan Taylor. Edgar Wright, the champion of Ant-Man for nine years, left the project over creative differences – rumored to be a watered down script and the promise of less and less control over the movie he had stuck with for nearly a decade. Wright’s only comment was a now-deleted tweet of a photograph of Buster Keaton. Keaton famously said his greatest mistake was giving up his own studio to work under MGM’s controlling thumb, which destroyed his creative autonomy and eventually his career.
The intended parallel is hard to miss.
Furthermore, fans have clamored for a Black Widow movie for years – a property arguably more currently viable than Ms. Marvel or Black Panther, as Natasha has appeared in three successful movies and her presence and popularity has only grown each time. Yet, when asked directly about a Black Widow solo film earlier this year, a fan was told instead to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier – as if playing #2 in someone else’s film is an adequate replacement for a independent, headlining role.
None of this is to say that Carol and T’Challa will never appear in a Marvel film. They will, and probably sooner rather than later. It’s also possible that within the next fourteen years, Carol and T’Challa will be headliners, if not franchise-makers. But Marvel Studios’ history says not to hold your breath for it. If Kevin Feige were willing to give up his level of control, Edgar Wright would still be on Ant-Man, Thor 2 wouldn’t have been hacked to bits, and we would already be seeing a Black Widow movie.