1944-1990 | 1998-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014 | 2015-2016 | 2017-2019
Despite constant predictions that the superhero film bubble would burst, superhero films continued to dominate the box office throughout the end of the 2010s. This was in part because of a rivalry between the two main American superhero comic book companies, DC and Marvel, but also competition between many Marvel characters.
In the 1990s Marvel comics had sold off the film rights to many of their titles. While most had reverted over the years to Marvel Studios, now owned by Disney, there were still other studios owning the film rights to popular Marvel characters. Universal Studios held the distribution rights to films purely based on the Incredible Hulk. Columbia Pictures had the rights to Spider-Man and associated characters, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) had shown them struggling to turn their lucrative rights into money-making films. The biggest competitor to Disney's Marvel Studios was 20th Century Fox, who held film rights not only to Fantastic Four but also X-Men and associated characters. As long as they kept making films featuring those characters before the rights expired, their film rights were extended. This had allowed them to make a series of X-Men films followed by a recast, prequel series that had begun in 2011:
- X-Men (2000)
- X-Men 2 (2003)
- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
- X-Men: First Class (2011)
- The Wolverine (2013)
- X-Men: Days of Futures Past (2014)
- Deadpool (2016)
- X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Yet by far the most successful studio making films featuring Marvel characters was, appropriately enough, Marvel Studios. Their Marvel Cinematic Universe contained inter-connected characters, with each impacting on events on the next. Marvel also conceived their films as having over-reaching story arcs and grouped their films into 'phases'. By 2016 the Marvel Cinematic Universe consisted of the following films:
|Phase 1:||Phase 2:||Phase 3:|
1. Iron Man (2008)|
2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
3. Iron Man 2 (2010)
4. Thor (2011)
5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
6. Avengers Assemble (2012)
7. Iron Man 3 (2013) |
8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
12. Ant-Man (2015)
13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)|
14. Doctor Strange (2016)
Listed below are all the Marvel film adaptations made during 2017-19, with recurring actors and characters who appear in other films shown in Bold. Also mentioned is whether the films pass the Bechdel Test. This can be summarised as whether the film involves two or more female characters who have a conversation together that does not focus on men in general or specific male characters.
|Studio||20th Century Fox|
|Plot||In 2029 mutants are dying off, with no new mutants having been born for 25 years. Logan, formerly called Wolverine, is hiding in Mexico where he cares for the frail and elderly Charles Xavier, who, due to his age, is losing control of his abilities, as well as his mind. Logan himself is slowly dying of adamantium poisoning when he is hired by a nurse to take her and an 11-year-old girl called Laura to a place called 'Eden' in North Dakota, which is really a story from a comic book. After accepting, the nurse is murdered, and Logan learns that Laura is a mutant created from his DNA by a team of scientists who are hunting her down. Can Logan and Xavier take her to safety?|
|Setting||Mexico and America 2029, in a world all-but free of mutants|
|Post-Credits scene||None, although some showings also feature short-film Deadpool: No Good Deed|
This was intended to be the final X-Men film starring original cast members Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 (2017)
|Plot||The Guardians of the Galaxy are hired by Ayesha, High Priestess of the Sovereign race, to protect the Sovereign's power source or batteries from attack, after which they are given the outlawed Nebula as payment. Bored, Rocket steals some of the batteries, incurring the wrath of the Sovereign who pursue and damage their ship, which crashes. The Guardians are rescued by a powerful, mysterious figure claiming to be Quill's father, Ego. While Rocket and Groot guard Nebula and repair the ship, the others travel to Ego's planet where he reveals that he has godlike powers, which Quill has probably inherited. Meanwhile, Ayesha hires Yondu and his Ravagers to capture the Guardians. However, as Yondu has been expelled from the Ravager Community, his crew, led by Taserface, mutiny. Will Rocket, Groot and Yondu be able to escape? What will Nebula do next? What is Ego's secret and what does he have in store for Quill?|
|Setting||Marvel Cinematic Universe: Earth, Ego's planet|
|Guardians of the Galaxy|
|Related Films||All Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
|Stan Lee cameo||Astronaut talking to the Watchers|
|Post-Credits scene||Yes, both mid-credits and post-credits|
Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)
|Studio||Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios|
|Plot||After the Battle of New York (Avengers Assemble) Adrian Toomes invests heavily in his salvage company, expecting to clear up the city, only to be forced out of business by Tony Stark's US Department of Damage Control. Seeking revenge, he plans to use what he has salvaged so far to make weapons to sell on the black market. Years later, Tony Stark asks a young boy called Peter Parker who has spider-like abilities help him fight Captain America (Captain America: Civil War), but then ignores his calls. Wishing to impress the Avengers, Parker decides to discover who is behind the alien weapons and stop them himself. Yet the more time he spends as Spider-Man, the more his school life suffers and the more the girl of his dreams eludes him.|
|Setting||Marvel Cinematic Universe: New York, Washington DC and Maryland|
|Related Films||Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:|
|Bechdel Test||Narrow pass|
|Stan Lee cameo||Gary, annoyed man in an apartment|
|Post-Credits scene||Yes, one mid-credits and one post-credits|
By far the most famous Marvel character is Spider-Man. Although Marvel Studios longed to make a Spider-Man film, since 1985 the film rights had been owned by Columbia Pictures, a company owned by Sony. After the disappointing performance of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Sony decided that, rather than try to compete against the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, they would work with it. While keeping the film rights to the character, they allowed Spider-Man to appear in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, starting with Captain America: Civil War, and in exchange would co-produce a Spider-Man film with Marvel Studios which would include characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Tony Stark.
The 'Homecoming' of the title reflects the fact that Marvel Studios have made a Spider-Man film, which they consider to be a homecoming, as well as an American school tradition that briefly appears in the film. A much younger, school-age Peter Parker was cast to differentiate him from the character played in previous films, and other Marvel superheroes. Instead of facing an all-powerful, evil villain, he faced a much more down-to-earth foe who was simply trying to earn enough money to raise his family, but using illegal means to do so. The Vulture was played by Michael Keaton, who had famously played Batman in the 1989 film of the same name, and had more recently won acclaim in Birdman (2014) for playing an actor struggling to get work after playing a superhero.
The film did attract some criticism for casting 52-year-old Marisa Tomei as Aunt May Parker, as many fans felt that the actress was too young. Marvel defended their decision on the grounds that most 15-year-olds' aunts are likely to be roughly the age of their parents give or take a few years, so 40-55 is a more realistic age range than over 80.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor is busy fighting demons who claim that Asgard will soon be destroyed during Ragnarok, as Odin is no longer ruling. Thor returns to Asgard and discovers that Loki has been impersonating Odin. The two of them are helped by Dr Strange to locate him in a town in Norway. Odin warns them that he is dying and his death will free his oldest child, Hela, from her prison.
Hela, unleashed, destroys Thor's hammer Mjolnir and Thor and Loki end up on Sakaar, a galactic rubbish dump ruled by the Grandmaster who watches gladiatorial games. There Thor is enslaved by a Valkyrie, a surviving warrior from the last war against Hela, and befriends fellow gladiators Korg and Miek. He is also reunited with Hulk.
Can Thor, Loki and Hulk return to Asgard and stop Hela from resurrecting the dead and conquering the universe, and what will be the cost?
|Setting||Marvel Cinematic Universe: Planets Sakaar and Asgard|
|Related Films||All Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
|Stan Lee cameo||Grandmaster's servant/barber|
|Post-Credits scene||One mid-credits scene, one post-credits scene|
Jaime Alexander was unable to return to play Sif due to scheduling conflicts. Cate Blanchett as Hela plays the series' first female villain. Matt Damon, who cameos as an actor playing Loki, had previously played a different character named Loki in Dogma.
Black Panther (2018)
The African kingdom of Wakanda is built on the remains of a vibranium meteorite that has allowed them, over the centuries, to become the most advanced country, but hidden from the rest of the world, with four of the five tribes in alliance and the fifth living in the mountains. A special herb allows the ruler of Wakanda to become super-strong and be known as the Black Panther. After the death of T'Chaka, his son T'Challa inherits the throne after winning a ritual combat with the Jabari tribe's leader, M'Baku.
Soon afterwards he captures arms dealer/terrorist Ulysses Klaue, the only man who had penetrated Wakanda's secret and stolen vibranium in order to make weapons. He has been freed by a man named Killmonger, who has a claim to the throne and hopes to defeat T'Challa and use Wakanda's technology to arm the downtrodden of African descent to rise up around the world. Can T'Challa, with his sister, mother and girlfriend, discover his secret?
|Setting||California in 1992 and 'present day' (ie 2018) South Korea, London and Wakanda, fictional hidden country in Africa, immediately after events of Captain America: Civil War.|
|Related Films||All Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War|
|Stan Lee cameo||Gambler in a casino in South Korea|
|Post-Credits scene||Both Mid-Credits and Post-credits|
The fictional country of Wakanda seems to be located in South Sudan and the language spoken is predominantly the real South African language of Xhosa, with other words and phrases used to imply a pan-African nation. Yet the country of Wakanda was based on Native American legends about the Creator's homeland where conflicts no longer exist, and became associated with Africa when popularised by Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan serialised story The Man-Eater (1915), and film adaptation Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). The Marvel Comics character of Black Panther was created in July 1966, before the Black Panther movement was founded in October 1966. Like many of their popular characters Marvel sold the film rights on. Throughout the 1990s, Wesley Snipes tried to get a film adaptation made, only to make Blade instead. The film rights to Black Panther reverted to Marvel in 2005. As both Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman had appeared in The Hobbit trilogy, they were apparently nicknamed on set as the 'Tolkien White Guys'. This was briefly the eighth-most successful film of all time before being nudged down into ninth place by Avengers: Infinity War, and went on to win three Oscars2.
Shockingly, Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer in 2020 aged only 43.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
|Directors||Anthony and Joe Russo|
|Plot||Thanos seeks to gather the six infinity stones from their hiding places3, planning to use them to destroy half of all life in the universe, while the Avengers across the universe seek to stop him. It all comes down to a final showdown in the advanced African country of Wakanda. Who will survive?|
|Setting||Deep Space, Edinburgh, New York, Knowhere, Vormir, Titan, Wakanda, Across the Universe|
|Related Films||All Marvel Cinematic Universe|
|Stan Lee cameo||School bus driver|
|Post-Credits scene||Yes, featuring Nick Fury and Maria Hill|
On release this was the fourth most successful film of all time, behind only Avatar (2009), Titanic (1997) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). It was released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Deadpool 2 (2018)
|Studio||20th Century Fox|
After his fiancée Vanessa is killed on the day that they decided to start a family, Wade Wilson aka Deadpool tries to commit suicide but is saved by Colossus. Deadpool decides to join the X-Men and go on a mission to capture unstable teenage mutant Russell Collins aka Firefist. Russell is seeking revenge against the 'Mutant Re-Education Centre' orphanage run by the Essex Corporation where he had been abused. Deadpool kills one of the abusive staff and both he and Russell are taken to the Ice Box, a prison for mutants. There he is forced to wear a collar that prevents him from using his powers.
Meanwhile, Cable, a soldier from the future, travels to their time to kill Russell, who in the future kills Cable's wife and daughter. His attempts to break into the Ice Box to kill Russell instead frees Russell and Deadpool. Despite denying that he cares, in a remark overheard by Russell, Deadpool decides to adopt him and defend him from Cable. He runs auditions for superheroes to join his 'X-Force' team. Yet Russell seeks revenge against the orphanage headmaster. Can Deadpool convince Russell to change his path from that of anger and villainy and live a better life?
|Setting||Early 21st Century United States|
|Extended Version||The Super Duper $#%!#& Cut is 12 minutes longer, but not widely available|
|Post-Credits scene||Yes, saving Peter and referring to X-Men Origins: Wolverine|
The film incorporates cameo footage that was filmed during the production of X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019). This film was released shortly before TJ Miller was implicated in sexual abuse allegations and making false bomb threat claims. It has since been stated that Miller would not be appearing in any further Deadpool films. Following Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox it is uncertain whether the family-friendly company would be interested in making more adult superhero films, even though Deadpool 2 was the most successful R-rated film ever on release. That said, it is expected that Deadpool will be the only character from the X-Men series that Disney will continue with.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Scott Lang has been under house arrest for almost two years after breaking the Sokovia Accords4, with only a few days to go before he is free. Yet when Hank Pym attempts to rescue his wife Janet from the Quantum Realm, the subatomic state that she has been trapped in since 1987, a realm that Lang is the only living being to have returned from, Lang sees a vision of her. Despite having previously angered Pym by supporting Captain America and forcing Pym to flee from the authorities, Lang agrees to help him and his daughter Hope to rescue Janet. All they need is one final component from black market tech dealer Sonny Burch to build a stable quantum tunnel.
While Lang tries to avoid being caught breaking house arrest, Pym and Hope's plans are complicated by Burch and his hoodlums' attempts to steal their technology. They are also haunted by attacks from the 'Ghost'. They learn from Pym's former colleague that the Ghost is Ava Starr who, as a child, was rendered quantumly-unstable by a failed scientific experiment that left her able to phase through solid objects. SHIELD trained her to be an assassin but, aware that she only has days to live, she is prepared to do anything to extend her life.
|Setting||Prelude: 1987, Main Film: San Francisco two years after Captain America: Civil War|
|Related Films||All Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially Ant-Man (2018) and Captain America: Civil War (2016)|
|Stan Lee cameo||Man whose car is accidentally shrunk|
|Post-Credits scene||Mid-Credits related to Avengers: Infinity War and Post-Credits|
This film is set at the same time as Avengers: Infinity War. Randall Park would reprise his role of Agent Jimmy Woo in Disney+ series WandaVision (2021).
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
|Directors||Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman|
|Studio||Columbia Pictures & Sony Pictures Animation|
Teenage genius Miles Morales is struggling to find his place in the world, particularly when his parents transfer him from his school to a boarding school because they feel it would give him better opportunities. He hero-worships Spider-Man, whom his father disapproves of, and his uncle Aaron, who he feels is the only one he can relate to. When he is out painting graffiti in an abandoned tunnel he is bitten by a strange spider. Following this he begins exhibiting strange new abilities that he cannot control.
When trying to investigate what happened to him, he discovers that the tunnel was next to where Kingpin had built a Super Collider intended to cross different parallel universes and reunite him with his dead family. Spider-Man Peter Parker tries to stop Kingpin, believing the collider endangers New York but, after being briefly plunged into the collider, he is killed. He gives Miles a USB stick before he dies, but Miles inadvertently damages it.
Meanwhile other Spider-Men are brought into this dimension, one of whom, Peter B Parker, promises to train Miles into how to be Spider-Man. He is aided at first by Spider-Woman and others from different dimensions, who understand the burden and responsibility of being Spider-Man. Peter B Parker is particularly jaded, having broken up with the love of his life, Mary Jane, because he did not feel ready to have children.
How long can the travellers from parallel universes remain in this dimension before dying? How will Miles react when he discovers that his uncle is trying to kill him? Is Miles ready to face Kingpin? Can Miles also teach those who are aiding him, showing Gwen the value of friendship, and will the experience in training Miles prepare Peter B Parker for the responsibility of becoming a father?
|Setting||New York City and across the Spider-Verse, different dimensions containing a Spider-Man or equivalent|
|Bechdel Test||Narrow Pass|
|Stan Lee cameo||Stan, seller of Spider-Man costumes|
One of the best animated superhero films of all time, this was a worthy winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar and was even rated as among the best films of the decade by critics. Its unique, distinct style effectively resembles a comic book but the film is enthused with character and realism, not to mention one of the greatest ever cartoon pigs.
This film contains one of Stan Lee's last cameos, recorded shortly before his death. It is dedicated to both of Spider-Man's creators, artist Steve Ditko who died on 6 July, 2018, and writer Stan Lee, who died on 12 November, 2018.
Journalist Brock is investigating reports that Carlton Drake, head of San Francisco's Life Foundation, is experimenting on humans to develop pharmaceutical cures and drugs. His fiancée Anne is a lawyer working for the same legal team as Drake's lawyer. Brock hacks into Anne's computer, in an attempt to expose Drake, which results in her getting fired and ending their relationship.
Drake is secretly using his space programme to gather alien life forms and experimenting on combining them with humans. When Brock investigates this he becomes bonded with an alien symbiote named Venom, who gives him strength and power but causes him to act bizarrely. Drake becomes obsessed with finding Venom after all the other alien life he has gathered dies, until he himself becomes infected with the alien leader, Riot.
Can Venom and Brock work together to stop Drake and Riot's plan to lead an invasion of Earth that will result in all humanity becoming enslaved?
|Setting||San Francisco, early 21st Century|
|Cameos||Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) in mid-credits scene|
|Stan Lee cameo||Man walking his dog|
|Post-Credits scene||Mid-Credits scene setting up a sequel|
Post-Credits scene essentially a trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
A Venom script had been in existence ever since the character appeared in Spider-Man 3 ten years earlier. Though Columbia were willing to work with Marvel Studios on Spider-Man, they still hoped to launch their own film series based on other related characters that they had the rights to, choosing Venom to be the first in a standalone series that would feature characters from the Spider-Man stories, but not Spider-Man himself due to their contract with Marvel Studios. A sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, was in post-production and delayed by 2020's COVID-19 virus outbreak.
Captain Marvel (2019)
|Directors||Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck|
Vers is a member of the Kree Empire's elite Starforce squad, having been trained by Starforce commander Yon-Rogg. She only remembers the last six years, but has incredible powers. On a mission against the Kree's enemies the Skrulls, who are able to shapeshift, Vers is captured and her forgotten memories are probed, particularly those regarding Dr Wendy Lawson who was the designer of joint NASA-USAAF Project Pegasus. After escaping and landing on Earth, Vers believes that the Skrulls are planning to assassinate Lawson and steal her work.
On Earth Vers encounters SHIELD agents Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. Fury aids her in finding Project Pegasus. They learn that Lawson had died six years earlier in 1989 during a test flight, and photographs show that Vers was the pilot. Her real name was Carol Danvers, and her pilot nametag was cut in half with 'Carol Dan' remaining on Earth and 'Vers' being taken by the Kree, who had shot the aircraft down.
If everything she believed is a lie, what is the truth behind the Kree-Skrull war? Who can be trusted in the presence of aliens who can shapeshift? If she is human, how did she gain her superpowers? Can Carol's best friend Maria Rambeau help her discover who she is? And just how did Nick Fury lose his eye?
|Setting||Kree Empire's homeworld of Hala and Los Angeles, 1995|
|Related Films||All Marvel Cinematic Universe|
|Stan Lee cameo||Himself trying to read and memorise his lines in Mallrats|
|Post-Credits scene||Both mid-credits scene linking Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame and post-credits vignette|
As Stan Lee passed away while this film was being made, the opening logo has been changed so that, instead of showing a range of Marvel characters, it shows Stan Lee and his many cameos. The actors playing Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, a character who would often encounter the Kree in spin-off television series Agents of SHIELD, were digitally de-aged by 25 years so that their appearance would be consistent with the film's period setting compared to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film reveals that the Tesseract or Blue Space Stone, previously appearing in Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers Assemble, had caused Carol Danvers to gain her powers, though she is not known as 'Captain Marvel' in this film.
The title 'Captain Marvel' has a complex history. The first comic character by that name was created by Fawcett Comics in 1939, who published his adventures until 1953 when DC Comics sued for copyright infringement, claiming Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman. In 1967 Marvel Comics bought the copyright of the name 'Captain Marvel' from Fawcett Comics and developed their own superheroes who use that name. This includes the male Kree Captain Mar-Vell, also known as Dr Walter Lawson (the original Captain Marvel), followed by Monica Rambeau. Carol Danvers, created in 1968, was originally Ms Marvel and Mar-Vell's girlfriend before becoming the sixth Captain Marvel in her own right. DC, meanwhile, bought the character rights for the original Captain Marvel in 1972 and also released a film in 2019, Shazam!, based upon him. Similarly 'Carol Danvers' should not be confused with 'Kara Danvers', which since 1961 is the Earth name of Superman's cousin Supergirl.
This was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to focus on a female superhero, after Wonder Woman (2017) had finally dispelled the myth that all female superhero films flop5. Another huge success for Marvel, it made over a billion dollars and was the fifth highest-grossing film of 2019.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
|Directors||Anthony and Joe Russo|
|Studio||Marvel Cinematic Universe|
|Plot||In the aftermath of their defeat by Thanos, the surviving Avengers locate the tyrant, hoping to use the Infinity Stones to bring back the dead, only to discover that Thanos has destroyed all the Stones. Thor kills Thanos. Five years later Scott Lang escapes from the quantum realm, explaining that for him he had merely been trapped for hours. After conjecture that the quantum realm can allow time travel, the survivors plan to build a time machine and collect all the Infinity Stones from the past, create a new Infinity Glove, reverse Thanos' acts and then return the stones back to their points in the past to prevent the timeline being corrupted. Can the heroes do all this, and will those who will willingly sacrifice themselves to save others be able to allow each other to make that sacrifice?|
|Setting||Five years after Avengers: Infinity War|
|Related Films||All Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly Avengers: Infinity War|
|Stan Lee cameo||Car driver in 1970|
|Post-Credits scene||Yes, and Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer|
This overtook Avatar (2009) to become the most successful film of all time, earning over $2.8 billion. It is also the fifth biggest film of all time in the UK (where The Avengers will always be associated with John Steed and Emma Peel) behind Star Wars; The Force Awakens, Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, and Avatar. Natalie Portman had publicly stated that she did not wish to reprise her role as Jane for this film, but was included through the use of a deleted scene from Thor: The Dark World. Anyone feeling that this film contains a ridiculous number of characters would be right.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
|Studio||20th Century Fox|
During a space rescue mission undertaken by the X-Men, Jean Grey is struck by a living space flare. Absorbing the energy, she gains immense power that she struggles to control, hurting those around her after remembering how she accidentally killed her mother in 1975. Grey develops two conflicting personalities, with the arrogant, powerful Phoenix seemingly under the energy's control. Meanwhile a race of aliens known as the D'Bari seek the energy for their own ends, hoping to take over the world.
|Setting||Earth orbit, America in 1992|
|X-Men & Mutants|
Following 20th Century Fox's takeover by Disney, it was revealed that this would be the last X-Men film to be made and the final one featuring established X-Men characters6. Although the Phoenix plot had featured in X-Men: The Last Stand, it was felt that it had been relegated to a backstory and had not been properly explored. Yet, though the film is also known simply as Dark Phoenix in the USA, Sophie Turner who actually plays Jean Grey aka Phoenix is credited fifth. This is the first X-Men film not to include Hugh Jackman as Logan.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
|Studio||Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios|
Restored to life, Peter Parker feels pressured to be always ready to save the world when all he wants to be is a helpful, neighbourhood spider-man. On a school trip to Europe he plans to tell MJ how he feels about her, but his idea is disrupted by a global crisis. Nick Fury turns up and reveals that he is needed to help save the world from Elementals, beings of Earth, Air, Water and Fire. They have crossed over from a parallel world which was destroyed, the only survivor being Quentin Beck who is soon nicknamed 'Mysterio'. Parker also learns that Stark has left him control of EDITH, a powerful AI that can control all the weapons and other tech developed by Stark Industries, particularly flying robot drones.
Forced to save lives while on his holiday, Parker wears a dark suit and adopts the nickname 'Monkey' to try to stop his classmates realising that he is Spider-Man. Can Parker decide to save the day even though it means abandoning his plan to get the girl?
|Setting||Ixtenco Mexico, Queens in New York City, Venice, Prague, Berlin, the Netherlands and London|
|Related Films||Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:|
|Post-Credits scene||Both mid-credits scene and post-credits scene|
This is the last film in Marvel's Phase Three and, once again, Columbia are effectively hiring Marvel Studios to make a Spider-Man film for them, allowing established Marvel characters such as Nick Fury and Hogan to appear. JK Simmons briefly cameos as J Jonah Jameson, having played the role in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy (2002-07). Following this film Marvel and Sony, Columbia's parent company, had a disagreement over the use of Spider-Man which led to fears that the character would not be featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet in late September 2019 it was announced that an agreement had been reached.
Into the Future
The rate at which superhero films were hitting the cinema was truly unprecedented; more Marvel superhero films were released in 2018 alone than in the whole of the 20th Century. There were signs that this was the peak and the rate would gradually reduce, yet in 2019 no-one could have predicted that cinema releases would grind to a halt in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in cinema closures worldwide from late March 2020. Few films were released when they were allowed to reopen in many nations during autumn 2020, as many cinema chains remained closed.
In early 2019 Disney finished negotiating the purchase of its fierce competitor 20th Century Fox. This enabled the film rights Fox held to Marvel properties, such as the X-Men, to be reunited with Marvel Studios, another part of the Disney Empire. Once this purchase had been completed Disney announced that they had no intention of making X-Men films in the near future, at least not in the next five years. The rate of superhero film releases was in part driven by competition between Disney and Fox and, in the blockbuster business, a failure can cost hundreds of millions. Although no more X-Men films were planned, the related, and much cheaper, character of Deadpool remains popular and attracts an older audience, so, as it is not competing for the family audience, it is likely to continue as long as it proves popular.
There was one final 20th Century Fox film that remains unreleased: although filming on The New Mutants ended in September 2017, the trailer met with a lacklustre reception. The original expected release date was for January 2018, then it was moved to later that year, then some reshoots were scheduled to take place in summer 2018 for an early 2019 release, which became a late 2019 release. After much publicity that it would be released in April 2020, the closure of cinemas worldwide led to it being delayed once more. This is the first superhero film to prominently feature two gay characters in a relationship. Many suspected Disney would not give it a cinematic release at all and instead use it to promote their new streaming service, Disney+. Despite this it was finally released in August/September 2020 and, with cinema audiences still low due to the pandemic, it bombed7.
Meanwhile the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to develop and grow. With four of the recent films making the top ten most successful films of all time list (unadjusted for inflation), the audience is still there. Yet with many of the original actors and characters in the series moving on to other things, films based on new characters will need to replace the already existing established favourites. Will they prove as popular? In the short term would the superheroes be defeated not by a villain, but by a virus?